Obama trumpets AARP, AMA healthcare endorsements

The president drops in on a press briefing to revel in some good news for reform legislation's prospects

Published November 5, 2009 8:55PM (EST)

Supporters of healthcare reform got some very good news on Thursday: Two influential groups, the AARP and the American Medical Association both announced their official support for the House Democrats' bill, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network chimed in with its endorsement as well.

With President Obama having been through a rough few news cycles due to Tuesday's election results, the time was right for him to try to get a personal stake in the good news today. So he dropped in on White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' regular briefing in order to discuss the announcements and give a little preview of how they'll be used in pro-reform messaging from here on out.

"When it comes to the AARP, this is no small endorsement .... They are a non-partisan organization, and their board made their decision to endorse only after a careful, intensive, objective scrutiny of this bill," Obama said.

"They're endorsing this bill because they know it will strengthen Medicare, not jeopardize it. They know it will protect the benefits our seniors receive, not cut them. So I want everybody to remember that the next time you hear the same tired arguments to the contrary from the insurance companies and their lobbyists. And remember this endorsement the next time you see a bunch of misleading ads on television."

Turning to the AMA's support, which he portrayed as representing the nation's medical professionals generally -- true in that the AMA claims that mantle, but still something of an overstatement -- Obama said, "These are men and women who know our health care system best and have been watching this debate closely. They would not be supporting it if they really believed that it would lead to government bureaucrats making decisions that are best left to doctors. They would not be with us if they believed that reform would in any way damage the critical and sacred doctor-patient relationship."

The president closed his remarks by "urg[ing] Congress to listen to AARP, listen to the AMA, and pass this reform for hundreds of millions of Americans who will benefit from it." He left the briefing without taking questions.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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