Provider groups back reform bill—with caveats
As the final pieces fell into place last week on a $940 billion legislative package that could reshape the nation’s healthcare system, interest groups made their final push for or against the House bill.
Providers largely came out in support of the legislation. Most had previously championed some type of reform, although some differed on how to achieve it.
“No legislation is perfect,” said Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, which endorsed the reform measures on March 18. “Congress will revisit this legislation as it has most reform (bills) again and again.”
While the federation, which represents investor-owned hospitals, and others have focused sharply on getting legislation signed by President Barack Obama, they have also pledged to their member organizations that they would continue to tweak provisions either on Capitol Hill or at the agency level. “We’ll look at its effects,” Kahn said. “We’ll have views and probably want something to evolve.”
Physician groups sounded a similar mantra. While not necessarily pleased with all of the bill’s provisions, for the most part they agreed that the greater effort to get more Americans insured and control costs overrode the bill’s imperfections. The schedule at deadline called for the House to vote on the legislation on March 21 and for the Senate vote to take place after that, possibly late this week.
On March 19, the American Medical Association, which opposed reform efforts in the past century, announced “qualified support” for the latest proposal.
“The pending bill is imperfect, but we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to something as important as the health of Americans,” AMA President J. James Rohack said in a written statement. “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.”
His qualified endorsement was echoed by Jack Lewin, CEO of the American College of Cardiology.
“We have been urging Congress to fix the access-to-care problem, to come up with legislation to promote quality of care and payment reforms, to make coverage affordable to those who can’t afford it, to address chronic disease management, prevention and wellness,” Lewin said. He noted that to that end, the legislative package contains additional funding for children and adults with congenital heart disease.
What physicians are likely to oppose is the inclusion of an “onerous” independent payment advisory board that excludes all other healthcare sectors except for doctors, he said. “I don’t think it’s a very good mechanism” for determining reimbursement, he said.
Rohack: “We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”