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Obama Incorporates Republican Ideas to Health Reform Proposal

President Obama is determined to get health reform legislation passed and has incorporated into his plan four Republican-generated ideas from last week’s Health Summit.  In a letter sent to Congressional leaders, the president outlined items related to fraud, malpractice, reimbursements, and health savings accounts.  Obama will hit the road next week to garner support for his proposal.  He is scheduled for appearances in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

J. James Rohack, MD, president of the AMA, said “As we reach the final stage of health system reform, the AMA is pleased that President Obama has offered some additional proposals, including expanding medical liability reforms, raising Medicaid payment rates to improve access to care for vulnerable patients and expanding the availability of health savings accounts.”

Click here for the full text of President Obama’s letter. Following is an excerpt regarding his four “Republican” ideas:

  1. “Although the proposal I released last week included a comprehensive set of initiatives to combat fraud, waste, and abuse, Senator Coburn had an interesting suggestion that we engage medical professionals to conduct random undercover investigations of health care providers that receive reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid, and other Federal programs.
  2. My proposal also included a provision from the Senate health reform bill that authorizes funding to states for demonstrations of alternatives to resolving medical malpractice disputes, including health courts. Last Thursday, we discussed the provision in the bills cosponsored by Senators Coburn and Burr and Representatives Ryan and Nunes (S. 1099) that provides a similar program of grants to states for demonstration projects. Senator Enzi offered a similar proposal in a health insurance reform bill he sponsored in the last Congress. As we discussed, my Administration is already moving forward in funding demonstration projects through the Department of Health and Human Services, and Secretary Sebelius will be awarding $23 million for these grants in the near future. However, in order to advance our shared interest in incentivizing states to explore what works in this arena, I am open to including an appropriation of $50 million in my proposal for additional grants. Currently there is only an authorization, which does not guarantee that the grants will be funded.
  3. At the meeting, Senator Grassley raised a concern, shared by many Democrats, that Medicaid reimbursements to doctors are inadequate in many states, and that if Medicaid is expanded to cover more people, we should consider increasing doctor reimbursement. I’m open to exploring ways to address this issue in a fiscally responsible manner.
  4. Senator Barrasso raised a suggestion that we expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). I know many Republicans believe that HSAs, when used in conjunction with high-deductible health plans, are a good vehicle to encourage more cost-consciousness in consumers’ use of health care services. I believe that high-deductible health plans could be offered in the exchange under my proposal, and I’m open to including language to ensure that is clear. This could help to encourage more people to take advantage of HSAs.”

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