Texas Doctors: “Senate Health Plan Bad Medicine for Our Patients”

For immediate release
Nov. 21, 2009

   

Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807

Pam Udall

 

Contact: Steve Levine
phone: (512) 370-1380
cell: (512) 750-0971

Steve Levine

 


 

After careful analysis of both the good and bad provisions of the U.S. Senate health system reform bill (HR 3590), the Texas Medical Association has determined that it will not support the bill until it undergoes some necessary and significant changes.

“We know that our patients – insured and uninsured, elderly and poor – need a much more efficient, effective, and accountable health care system,” said TMA President William H. Fleming III, MD. “But, on the whole, the Senate health plan is bad medicine for our patients.”

As health system reform legislation continues to move through the U.S. Congress, the TMA message to our senators and representatives remains constant: “Fix What’s Broken and Keep What’s Good.” The association is basing its assessment on a 17-point set of principles the TMA House of Delegates adopted earlier this year.

“The Senate proposal makes some great strides for our patients, such as providing incentives for primary care, requiring health insurance companies to be more accountable, streamlining insurance paperwork, and enhancing physicians’ access to information technology,” Dr. Fleming said. “Our patients are frustrated with paying higher and higher insurance premiums each year while receiving less and less in return. Certainly physicians and our office staffs are frustrated with the everyday hassles of dealing with insurance companies that constantly come between us and our patients.”

The Senate bill, however, does nothing to correct a flawed Medicare payment formula that Congress created in 1997. That formula is directly responsible for the slow erosion of access to care for seniors and the poor.

“Ultimately, what good is health system reform if our patients cannot find a physician?” Dr. Fleming said.

TMA also is requesting elimination of provisions in HR 3590 that:

  • Would increase the cost of health insurance for our patients and deliver even less in return;
  • Would quadruple federal government interference, bureaucracy, and red tape for patients and physicians;
  • Would create incentives for patients to pay a fine for not having insurance rather than pay an unrealistic amount for insurance coverage;
  • Would neither protect Texas’ liability reforms nor expand those protections to patients and physicians in other states; and
  • Would impose untested and arbitrary treatment standards that do not improve the quality of patient care.

“Despite the partisan quagmire in Washington, we will work in coming weeks with our two U.S. senators to correct these and many other problems we see in the Senate bill,” Dr. Fleming said. “Right now, it’s simply bad medicine for our patients.”

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 44,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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