AMA Endorsement of Senate Healthcare Reform Misguided
Statement by Joseph Reichman, MD, President of the Medical Society of New Jersey
The Medical Society of New Jersey is deeply troubled by the recent AMA approval of healthcare reform legislation emerging from the US Senate. This legislation is significantly flawed and contains very few of the important reforms physicians consider critical to a meaningful overhaul of the US healthcare system.
The Senate measure provides no substantive payment reform. The AMA and MSNJ have placed a high priority on permanently fixing the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate formula for Medicare payments to physicians. It is shocking that a bill could gain AMA endorsement without such a fix. America’s physicians deserve more than unsecured promises from Congress on something as vital as healthcare payment reform.
Second, the Senate bill expands Medicaid to cover the uninsured. Unfortunately the New Jersey Medicaid Program pays so little for healthcare services that few physicians participate in the program. Healthcare reform based on Medicaid expansion will leave thousands of New Jersey residents with health insurance that the majority of practicing physicians cannot accept. It is no fix to roll the uninsured into a program where the cost to the physician to provide care exceeds the amount paid.
Finally, the Senate bill provides very little insurance reform. New Jersey is dominated by a few large health insurance plans that dominate the market place. These companies use their market power to increase premiums and force physicians and other healthcare providers to accept poor contract terms and lower payments. The Senate bill does very little to restrain the monopolistic behavior of these insurance companies.
We have little confidence that the American Medical Association is representing the interests of the practicing physician in New Jersey. The Medical Society of New Jersey will continue to advocate for meaningful reforms that help practicing physicians care for their patients.