Health reform: Website will help patients, physicians take action

Kevin B. O'Reilly
Editor
AMA Wire
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A website launched today will make it easier for patients and physicians to understand where the AMA stands on the health-system reform debate happening in Washington and give them tools to take part in the effort to protect health care coverage for millions of Americans.

The site, Patientsbeforepolitics.org, colorfully delineates the nine objectives that will guide the AMA in its discussions regarding ongoing efforts to improve the nation’s health system. The objectives were included in the letter that AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara, MD, wrote to Congressional leaders in January. They grow out of the AMA’s comprehensive vision for health-system reform.

That vision has been refined over more than two decades by the AMA’s House of Delegates, which is composed of representatives of more than 190 state and national specialty medical associations. The new site offers a convenient way for readers to understand the basis for these objectives, through links to relevant AMA Council on Medical Service reports and policy briefs.

The Patientsbeforepolitics.org website makes it easy for patients and physicians to write their elected Congressional representatives and urge them to protect Americans’ access to quality care. In the weeks and months to come, the site will be updated to offer more ways to take action on this critical issue. The site will also offer interactive features such as a way for users to design their own health care proposal and gain an appreciation for the complexity of this area of policymaking.

“Putting patients first is at the heart of everything we do as physicians,” said AMA President Andrew W. Gurman, MD. “That’s why we are committed to working with leadership in both parties to improve health insurance coverage and health care access so that patients receive timely, high-quality care, preventive services, medications and other necessary treatments. This new website will equip physicians and patients around the country with the information and tools they need so they can join us in urging Congress to put patients before politics and ensure every American has access to affordable, meaningful coverage and high-quality health care.”

The website launch comes at a time of great public interest in health-system reform as the U.S. House of Representatives considers the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In a letter to House committee leaders last week, Dr. Madara wrote that the AMA could not support the legislation in its current form, principally “because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations.”

In an AMA Wire® Viewpoints column about the AHCA, Dr. Gurman wrote that “the replacement bill, as written, would reverse the coverage gains achieved under the ACA, causing many Americans to lose the health care coverage they have come to depend upon.”

Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessed the budgetary and health care coverage impact of the AHCA, projecting that 14 million Americans who have gained coverage in recent years could lose it in 2018.

“For the AMA, that outcome is unacceptable,” Dr. Gurman said in reaction to news of the CBO report. “While the Affordable Care Act was an imperfect law, it was a significant improvement on the status quo at the time, and the AMA believes we need continued progress to expand coverage for the uninsured. Unfortunately, the current proposal—as the CBO analysis shows—would result in the most vulnerable population losing their coverage.

“Importantly, we hope the CBO estimates will motivate all members of Congress to find a pathway to work together on significantly improving  proposed health reform legislation so it is more focused on serving the very real needs of patients and improving the health of our nation,” Dr. Gurman added.

If you agree with putting patients before politics, join this vital fight to help protect health insurance coverage for millions of patients and become an AMA member today.

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