By J. James Rohack, M.D.
President, American Medical Association
It is clear that the status quo is unacceptable. The AMA will continue to work for reform that makes the system work better for patients and physicians. We must seize this opportunity this year to achieve meaningful health reform for America’s patients and physicians.
The President outlined three essential goals that are vital to reform efforts in this country, including: ensuring the current system remains secure and stable for those who already have insurance coverage and are happy with it; making insurance coverage affordable and accessible to those who need it; and reducing unnecessary costs and waste in the current system.
The AMA believes these core goals are ones that the majority of the American people can and do support, and we urge Congress to find common ground in achieving them.
President Obama recognized what physicians have long known – that medical liability reform is needed to bring down the cost of health care, and he is directing the Department of Health and Human Services to take action now. Recognizing the critical need for medical liability reform is an important step toward reducing unnecessary costs. Everyday physicians across the country are forced to consider the broken medical liability system when making decisions, resulting in defensive medicine that adds to unnecessary health costs. We cannot ignore this problem if health-system reform is going to address the growing cost of care.
Just yesterday, the AMA sent a letter to President Obama and Congress urging them to reach agreement on health reform that includes seven critical elements. Health coverage for all Americans, insurance market reforms that expand choice and eliminate denials for pre-existing conditions, assurance that medical decisions will remain between the patient and physician, medical liability reforms to reduce the cost of defensive medicine, and repeal of the broken Medicare physicians payment formula that threatens seniors’ access to care are among them.
We have a historic opportunity to implement needed reforms to address shortcomings in the current system, while keeping in tact all that is working well. We will stay constructively engaged in the legislative process to ensure the final bill improves the health system for patients and the dedicated physicians who care for them.