11 Health Leaders React to House Passing Health Reform

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , March 22, 2010

"Without reform, tens of millions of Americans stood to lose access to affordable health care and out-of-control spending would have triggered an unprecedented fiscal and budgetary crisis.

"The legislation includes some important first steps to begin to reverse a catastrophic shortage of primary care physicians, but more will need to be done to ensure that patients will have timely access to care by an internist or other primary care physician of their choice.

"We will continue to urge Congress to make improvements through subsequent legislation, including additional reforms to support the value of care provided by internists in a Patient-Centered Medical Home, to make permanent improvements in Medicare and Medicaid payments, to reduce the costs of defensive medicine, and to end the permanent cycle of Medicare (SGR) physician payment cuts.

"However, health reform is a process, and enactment of this package is an essential beginning, but not an end, of our continued effort to reform America's healthcare system consistent with ACP policies."

"The U.S. Senate should promptly enact the improvements included in the 'corrections' legislation including increasing the subsidies to making coverage affordable, providing equitable support to all states to cover the cost of expanding Medicaid, eliminating the Medicare Part D doughnut hole, and increasing Medicaid payments for primary care physicians."

Tim Size
Executive Director
Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative

"The healthcare legislation that looks headed to the President's desk is not ideal. It couldn't be otherwise given our country's deeply held and contradictory values. But the fact that tens of millions of Americans are uninsured and most of the rest of us are just one lost job from the same dilemma, drove this train.


"A majority in the Senate, and now the House, have decided they couldn't lose another generation in pursuit of the perfect bill.

"Assuring universal coverage for the rest of America was widely believed to be right around the corner. It has been a long corner. It took us the greater part of 20 years to work through challenges caused, but not anticipated, when the Medicare Prospective Payment System began in 1983. It will take at least that long for all of us to digest this new change. From a rural perspective, here are some of the priority areas that will need our attention:

"Protecting access to local care is a high priority as we address the systemic changes this legislation will incentivize. Equally a threat to access is the soon to explode retirement of baby boomers, leading to worsening of the current mal-distribution of healthcare professionals.

"Given the history of rural health voices being underrepresented on the current Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an even more powerful commission is potentially threatening to rural equity and will require even greater vigilance.

"Health reform's first installment was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and its focus on health information technology. Unfortunately, it appears that many decisions to date, by Congress and the Administration, are leading to an increase in the rural-urban digital divide."

Blair Childs
Senior vice president of Public Affairs
Premier healthcare alliance

"On behalf of 2,300 nonprofit hospitals across the country, members of the Premier healthcare alliance applaud Congress for passing important reforms that will help improve healthcare quality and reduce costs.


"While there are many initiatives our alliance members can undertake on their own to improve the quality, safety, and affordability of community healthcare, we needed this government action to fix perverse Medicare payment incentives. Delivery system reforms, such as the expansion of hospital value-based purchasing, creation of Medicare-based Accountable Care Organizations that also allow CMS to join ACOs in the private market, and national pilots to test the effectiveness of bundled payments, will go far to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of healthcare.

"Similarly, the creation of an independent comparative effectiveness research institute, establishment of a CMS Innovation Center, increased investment in the development of quality measures, and the disclosure of payments of value to physicians will increase transparency, reduce care variation, and avoid unnecessary healthcare costs.

"As a nation, we have taken a significant step to enact health reforms that will create system-wide sustainability and improve the quality of care for all Americans, and we look forward to working with the Senate to now pass the reconciliation package."

Ken Johnson
Senior Vice President
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PrRMA)

"We continue to believe that comprehensive healthcare reform will benefit patients and the future of America. That's why we have been involved in this important public policy debate for more than a year and why we support action by the House to approve the Senate-passed bill along with the amendments found in the reconciliation legislation.


"The existing barriers to quality healthcare simply are not acceptable. Today's important and historic vote in the House will help to expand healthcare coverage and services to tens of millions of Americans who are uninsured and often forced to forego needed medical treatments.

"Our commitment to help pay for healthcare reform will require all of our companies to make some difficult choices moving forward—on top of already losing more than 150,000 jobs since 2007 because of the recession and other economic factors.

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