MSNJ ASKS CONGRESS TO SAY “NO” ON TOMORROW’S HEALTHCARE REFORM VOTE
The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) urges the members of Congress to vote “no” tomorrow on House health reform bill H.R. 3962, The Affordable Health Care for America Act, while supporting H.R. 3961 to ensure the security and stability of Medicare.
“There is just too much left out of the current bill which, if approved, will severely impact the quality and access to care long-term,” stated Joseph H. Reichman, MD, President of the Medical Society of New Jersey. “The effect on the practice of medicine and the patients we serve could be devastating.”
Of particular concern to New Jersey, which has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement in the country, is the proposed addition of 15 million Americans to the under-funded program. “While it is encouraging to see some effort to adequately fund primary care for those relying on Medicaid, swelling the ranks of beneficiaries in New Jersey will only exacerbate the challenges facing our specialists and the hospitals they work in,” Reichman added.
“While MSNJ supports efforts to meaningfully address the broken Medicare funding formula in H.R. 3961, the decoupling of these efforts has led to fears that Congress is prepared to move forward without a permanent Medicare fix,” Reichman said. Last week, a similar bill was defeated in the Senate, adding to the unease.
The health reform debate has reached a critical juncture. MSNJ offers the following guidance to patients on what MSNJ considers the essential components for real, lasting, cost effective health reform.
MSNJ calls on Congress to deliver:
- Access to affordable health insurance coverage for all, tailored to individual needs and with individual responsibility for obtaining insurance and finding a medical home.
- Health insurance market reforms to help patients obtain and keep affordable health insurance and to remedy widely documented abusive insurer practices such as preexisting condition exclusions and denials of medically necessary care.
- Changes in antitrust law to promote information sharing and care coordination between doctors and to level the playing field in negotiations with health plans.
- Permanent correction of the fatally flawed Medicare physician sustainable growth rate formula which has restricted patient access to care.
- Strong and effective medical litigation reforms to reduce the costs of wasteful defensive medicine.
- Subsidies for low-income individuals and families to purchase private health insurance, as a means of covering the uninsured and as a market-based alternative to Medicaid expansion.
- Health education, prevention and wellness initiatives to improve patients’ overall health and reduce long-term costs.
- Initiatives and incentives to assure there will be enough physicians trained in the future to care for patients.
Not all reforms are good for patient care. MSNJ stands opposed to:
- Government-mandated treatment guidelines that interfere with doctors’ clinical decision-making and the doctor-patient relationship.
- A government-subsidized “public option” that would unfairly compete in the health insurance market.
- A single payor health system. MSNJ believes health system reform should improve and expand upon the current public-private system and focus on incremental, evolutionary change.
- Further expansion of Medicaid as a means of covering the uninsured. Given New Jersey’s track record of a woefully under-funded Medicaid program, we much prefer subsidies for the private purchase of health insurance by low-income patients.
“While we all support healthcare reform in the United States, we simply can’t ignore these important details that could be a detriment to the physician-patient relationship,” said Michael T. Kornett, CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey.