Health care policy

Physician groups urge senators to prioritize affordable health care access

The AOA joined with four other physician groups in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to urge senators to maintain affordable access to health care.

As Congress considers changes to the Affordable Care Act, the AOA joined with four other physician groups in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to urge senators to maintain affordable access to health care.

The coalition, representing the interests of more than 500,000 U.S. physicians, met with senators from both parties to express their joint priorities to protect patients.

“Every new Congress has the opportunity to improve existing legislation,” said William Burke, DO, AOA Trustee. “We hope lawmakers will continue or enhance their constituents’ access to health care as they evolve the system in place today.

“Keeping the emphasis on primary and preventive care is the best prescription for the nation. Our collective organizations seek proposals that ensure Americans receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time … at a cost they can afford.”

In addressing reporters at a media briefing prior to the Senate visits, Burke noted that his barber, a healthy 60-year-old man, recently saw his premium increase 10% to roughly $1,200 a month.

“Anyone can understand how that’s an issue for a single man who’s a small-business owner,” Burke said.

Legislative recommendations

Accompanying the AOA in its advocacy efforts on Thursday, the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also support affordable health care access.

During Senate visits, the coalition urged lawmakers to adopt the following legislative recommendations:

  • Do not increase the number of uninsured. Patients who currently have health insurance should not become uninsured because of any legislative or administrative actions.
  • Ensure a viable health care safety net. Continue universal, equitable access for low-income children, youth and adults, including those enrolled in Medicaid.
  • Ensure vital patient protections in the health insurance marketplace. Maintain free preventive services, make sure patients with pre-existing conditions continue to have access to health insurance, and extend rules against annual or lifetime caps.
  • Ensure sufficient premium assistance and cost-sharing reduction subsidies. Any proposals to end current subsidies should provide comparable assistance to make access affordable.
  • Protect individual and small group markets. Destabilizing the insurance market will cause insurers to struggle to offer family and individual plans, which many newly insured patients must use.

“America’s primary care physicians are standing together to send a strong message to Congress: Make sure reforms meet the needs of our patients,” said Thomas Gelhaus, MD, president of ACOG.

    2 comments

    1. Affordable access to care is of course a noble and worthwhile goal. This is important however this article seems to say that because of legislation enacted over the last 8 years that patients now have more access to care and also have more affordable care. I beg to differ. While I do not know all the numbers (keeping in mind numbers can be manipulated to say many things), in my professional experience I have seen a decrease in affordable access to care over the last 8 years. Patient have astronomical premiums, deductibles or 5,8,even 10+ thousand dollars, and complicated coverage limits and exclusions no one, especially the patient, understands. What I have also seen is that we work in one of the only professions where reimbursement for the same work gets reduced year after year after year, but cost for providing this care goes up. I do not propose that I have all the answers, but until we really start to intentionally dig in to what the actual problems are, there will never be a solution. If we don’t ask better questions, we will keep getting bad answers. In final thought I ask what issues as it relates to medicine and medical care and medical coverage have been solved through legislation? I would argue that not a single one has been successfully addressed as of yet. Legislation is not the sole solution. Until we are all held more personally responsible for our own health and well-being I argue that nothing will change. Something given for free has no value to the person receiving it, and unless there are consequences, both good and bad, for the choices we make there is zero reason to change. To quote Albert Einstein, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.”

      1. Insurance does not equal health care. A $5,000 deductible is hardly coverage that is usable for someone who makes $45,000. The AOA is leaning more and more liberal and certainly does not represent all physicians like it claims. Every healthcare service provided regardless of income should have some cost associated with it to make consumers use the services wisely. As in, do I really need to utilize emergency department services for my backache I have had for the last three years or a mild URI that I have had for the last two days. I have noticed a majority of low income patients find money for cigarettes and iphones. Don’t tell me they can’t afford to spend $20 (three packs of cigarettes) for an emergency room visit. In my state, if you have medicaid, then you pay $0 regardless of service. Charging $20-40 for the emergency department and $5-10 for a PCP would make some think twice. Oh, but the liberals will say this is not providing access. At some point, we need to have expectations that consumers will plan ahead, save money for emergencies, don’t have children if you can’t afford them….etc.

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