White Coats in the Rose Garden, as Obama Rallies Doctors on Health Overhaul

As noted below, the group that supplied many of the doctors for the Rose Garden event, Doctors for America, is a nonprofit organization that grew out of Doctors for Obama, which worked to help elect the president. But it also appears to be working closely with Organizing for America, Mr. Obama’s political organization. Its members include physicians like Dr. Alice Chen, an internist at UCLA Medical Center, who said during an interview in the Rose Garden that she often feels as if ‘’my hands are tied’’ in trying to provide quality care to patients who lack insurance.

Dr. Chen said she intended to speak to fellow doctors and encourage them to write letters to the editor in support of Mr. Obama’s plan. She is currently doing just that on the Organizing for America Web site, which has posted a letter in which Dr. Chen asks fellow doctors to “help influence the debate at this crucial moment’’ by making their voices heard.

Here’s our original post on the Rose Garden event:

President Obama, seeking to pitch his plan for a health care overhaul as the Senate Finance Committee moves toward a critical vote, invited a group of white-coated doctors to the Rose Garden on Monday, telling them that “nobody has more credibility with the American people on this issue than you do.’’

In brief remarks to the doctors – all of whom support Mr. Obama’s plan and have vowed to fan out in their home states to advocate for it – the president sought to make the case that reforming the health care system would benefit the medical profession as much as patients.

He said the bills moving through Congress would streamline paperwork and let doctors spend more time caring for patients and less time haggling with insurance companies. Mr. Obama drew especially hearty applause when he said that the reforms would include “loan forgiveness for primary care physicians’’ who agree to work in rural or underserved areas.

The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote this week on health legislation, and the president is trying to use his platform to keep public attention on the effort.

The 150 doctors, representing all 50 states, were planning to do media interviews with home state newspapers and television stations about their White House visit — a kind of local marketing effort.

The White House said it assembled the group of doctors by working with several medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, which has publicly supported the president’s plan for an overhaul, as well as the American Osteopathic Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Many were members of Doctors for America, a new grassroots organization that has advocated a health care overhaul — and is an outgrowth of Doctors for Obama, which worked to help elect the president.

Dr. Vivek Murthy of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a founder of Doctors for America, said Mr. Obama ‘’understands that the current system isn’t working for patients, but it’s also not working for doctors.’’

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