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Obama's Former Doctor Opposes Health Care Plan, Calls for Single-Payer System

Opposition to President Obama's plan to overhaul the health care system is getting personal.

Obama's former doctor, David Scheiner, is among the growing number of opponents to the president's health care plan, he says because it doesn't go far enough in having government run the system.

Scheiner, who treated Obama for more than two decades in Chicago, is calling for a government-run program like Medicare, arguing that it would reduce costs by cutting out administrative costs.

"We know under single-payer, eventually people will pay less," Scheiner said Thursday during a news conference at the National Press Club.

Scheiner was among the scheduled featured speakers at a rally Thursday in Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to pass legislation that includes a single-payer health care system.

A coalition of a couple of dozen of health care advocacy groups called "Healthcare--NOW" organized the event. Several liberal members of Congress attended, including Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Obama has hit the road in an effort to win public support and pressure Congress to pass his top domestic priority. While Obama has said a government-run "single-payer" health care system works well in some countries, he doesn't believe it would be appropriate in the United States because so many people get insurance through their employers working with private companies.

Lawmakers facing a hesitant public, also note that support is slim for a program that denies any competition. Seventy percent of those with coverage now rate it as good or excellent, according to a recent poll. 

"We've got to make certain at the end of the day, that we allow people to choose their own doctors and their own hospitals, and their own health insurance plans and to keep the health insurance plan they have if they want too," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Obama does support a government-run "public option" to compete with private insurers, a plan that most Republicans strongly oppose.

At the National Press Club, Scheiner criticized Obama's health care plan as too weak and argued that as long as health care reform includes private insurers, it will not work.

"I think no bill is better than this bill," he said.

Scheiner took on those who say they don't want the government interfering with their health care.

"People don't know what they're actually paying. Even people who don't have any health insurance are paying a lot of money to the health care system and they're not getting their money's worth," he said, noting that the United States is ranked 35th in the world. "I mean that's an abomination."

Scheiner said he hasn't spoken to Obama about his opposition to health care plan and the only effort he has made to let him know is through an e-mail he sent to the White House that was never answered. Scheiner said he didn't want to misuse his prior relationship with Obama to get his message to him.

Democratic leaders in Congress hope to pass health care legislation by the end of the year. Obama had to extend a deadline to get it passed by the August recess when conservative Democrats slowed the process down with their concerns over the cost. Of the five congressional committees working on the legislation, three have passed versions of it.