Critical Condition

The New York Times Questions the President

Some factchecking

WASHINGTON — President Obama showed great fluency in the intricate details of health policy at his news conference on Wednesday night, but experts said some of his points were debatable.

Mr. Obama said doctors, nurses, hospitals, drug companies and AARP had supported efforts to overhaul health care.

While it is true the American Medical Association has endorsed a bill drafted by House Democratic leaders, a half-dozen state medical societies have sharply criticized provisions that would establish a new government-run health insurance plan.

Likewise, Mr. Obama said Medicare could save large amounts of money by creating “an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency” and hold down the annual increases in payments to health care providers.

Far from supporting this proposal, the American Hospital Association is urging hospital executives to lobby against it.

Of the proposed new cost-control agency, Mr. Obama said: “It’s not going to reduce Medicare benefits. What it’s going to do is to change how those benefits are delivered so that they’re more efficient.”

Hospitals say the cuts could indeed cut services in some rural areas and from teaching hospitals, which receive extra payments because of higher costs.

In seeking to portray health legislation as bipartisan, Mr. Obama said that 160 Republican amendments were adopted in a bill approved last week by the Senate health committee. Republicans said many of the amendments involved technical provisions and did not alter the fundamental features of the bill.

The president said that health insurance companies were making “record profits.” America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main lobby for insurers, contends that “for every $1 spent on health care in America, approximately one penny goes to health plans’ profits.”