Doctors Lobby Endorses ‘Imperfect’ Health Reform Bill
With a good number of reservations, the American Medical Association, the country’s largest doctors lobby, today put its significant weight behind the health reform bills the House will take up this weekend.
By extending health coverage to the vast majority of the uninsured, improving competition and choice in the insurance marketplace, promoting prevention and wellness, reducing administrative burdens, and promoting clinical comparative effectiveness research, this bill will help patients and their physicians.
This was never a sure thing. The doctors have complained for years about Congress’ failure to scrap the flawed formula that dictates their Medicare rates (a formula that would result in a 21 percent Medicare pay cut for doctors next month without congressional action). And while the House health reform bill scrapped that formula and provided the doctors with more realistic pay updates, the Senate bill did not. That means that Congress will have to return to the issue later this year, if only to kick the problem down the road with yet another short-term fix.
It’s not AMA’s only concern. The lobbying group also has reservations about a provision of the Senate bill that creates an independent commission that will suggest Medicare reforms — and could force Congress to vote on them. The doctors — indeed, almost everyone who’s part of the nation’s $2.3 trillion medical-industrial complex — have concerns that the panel would make suggestions that, as AMA said today, “could result in misguided payment cuts that undermine access to care and destabilize health care delivery.” That is, cuts that would reduce federal payments to them.
Meantime, though, AMA is supporting the bill, which the Democrats hope to pass in the House on Sunday.