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AMA Responds to President Obama's State of the Union

AMA Renews Call for Health System Reform, Permanent Medicare Physician Payment Reform

For immediate release:
Jan. 27, 2010

Statement Attributable to:
J. James Rohack, MD
President, American Medical Association

“Tonight, President Obama reminded our nation what’s at stake for our country if Congress does not help Americans have health care security and stability.  Dedicated physicians are the backbone of our health care system, and we need to strengthen what works and fix what’s broken to help them continue to provide high-quality care to patients

“The AMA applauds President Obama for his ongoing commitment to health system reform and we second his call to ‘Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.’  Every American will benefit from health insurance market reforms that eliminate unfair business practices like denials for pre-existing medical conditions.  It is a tragedy that millions of Americans live sicker and die younger solely because they lack health coverage – every American should have affordable, high-quality health coverage. The pressures on our health care system have not abated; people are losing their health coverage along with their jobs and the rising cost of premiums is putting pressure on employers and families.

“This week, the AMA sent a letter to President Obama and members of Congress to encourage them to continue efforts to enact meaningful health reform this year. The letter outlined eight critical elements of health reform, based on long-standing AMA policy, that include: providing health coverage to all Americans; enacting market reforms that eliminate denials for pre-existing conditions; assuring that health care decisions are made by patients and their physicians and allow them to privately contract without penalty.  In addition, the AMA supports initiatives that: provide for quality improvement, prevention, and wellness; implement medical liability reforms to reduce the cost of defensive medicine; streamline and standardize insurance claims to eliminate unnecessary costs and administrative burdens and modify antitrust enforcement policies to empower physicians to improve quality and integration.

“As we work on health reform, Congress faces a March 1 deadline to permanently repeal the broken Medicare physician payment formula that puts access to care and choice of physician at risk for seniors, military families and baby boomers.  On March 1, physicians caring for seniors and military families face a 21 percent cut because of the flawed payment formula, which will force them to make tough decisions. The U.S. Senate must once and for all fix the broken formula to preserve the physician foundation of Medicare for current and future seniors who rely on the program.

“We are pleased that Mrs. Obama will shine a spotlight on the problem of childhood obesity, and we look forward to working with the White House on this important public health issue for America's families.”

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Read the AMA’s full letter to President Obama and Congress

Media contact:
Katherine Hatwell
American Medical Association
202-789-7419
katherine.hatwell@ama-assn.org

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