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.
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.