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In the Room for the President's Speech - an eye witness report


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Thank you to Dr. Zee Beams for representing Doctors for America last night at the President's speech and for sharing some of her thoughts about the whole experience.

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First, let me just say, what an honor to be in that large beautiful room for that one hour: watching and learning. Some unforgettable images:  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi with the Gavel; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the way senators gravitated to her like iron filings to a magnet; Ted Kennedy’s grandson taking his mother’s hand when the President described the late Senator’s commitment to the cause of universal health care.

The President made a bold start. He talked of how he believes that a universal coverage system with a single payer is the best and right way to provide health care. But that he also knows that this would be tumultuous and unsettling for our nation.

He reminded us that in 1943 Representative Dingle Senior first proposed legislation to provide universal health coverage for Americans. He reminded us that this debate is NOT about being a republican or a democrat. It is about real people- someone’s father, or mother, or best friend, or newborn child.

The President stood strong and confident on that podium. He made clear demands of some of the most powerful leaders in the world. Put aside your differences, he said, and work for what is good and right, and what we know must be done.

He put numbers behind the concepts. He told us exactly proposed reforms would benefit and protect small businesses, like mine and my mom’s. He told us how he is going to pay for his plans, and that he won’t allow deficit spending for Health Care Reform and that an exchange and a public option will increase competition among insurers.

And for us doctors, he made it a priority to address our fear of malpractice and the sense that we must practice defensive medicine.

It was great to be there with all those powerful people. It was generous of Congressman Hoyer to seat us with the Kennedy family and former Senator Daschle. It was exciting that I was across the room from Michelle Obama. The real honor, though, was representing my tribe. My Doctors for America. My 14,000 doctors who know health care is a human right, and providing health care for our fellow Americans is an honor and a privilege. My Doctors for America who stand with the President, and Nancy Pelosi, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Steny  Hoyer. My Doctors for America who stand up for all those sons and daughters and grandmothers and uncles and fathers who’ve suffered unnecessarily since 1943, 1965, 1994, and 2004.

President Obama made our job easy. He described a plan with a public option, and tort reform. Now let’s make his job a little easier. It’s time join the President and tell Congress to draft and pass a law for the President to sign before the year ends.

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