Welcome to The ACP Advocate.
Our first story this week is about developments in Congress that will likely determine the fate of health care reform.
Yesterday, Congress released the final bill to be voted on, which includes a number of improvements over the version passed by the Senate on December 24. The House is expected to vote on it as early as Sunday, and if it passes the House, the Senate would take it up and try to complete action before the Easter break. If the legislation does not pass the House, it likely will spell the end of health reform.
The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the final bill would provide coverage to 32 million people, or 95% of all legal residents, and reduce the deficit by $130 billion over the next 10 years and by more than a trillion dollars over the next 20.
Around the same time you’re receiving this newsletter you should also be receiving an e-mail from ACP President Joseph W. Stubbs, MD, FACP, explaining ACP’s position on the final bill. He points out that ACP makes its decisions based strictly on how legislation advances our policies, not on the politics or process involved. ACP has concluded that the final bill, although imperfect, deserves a yes vote in Congress, because it advances ACP’s priorities on making affordable coverage available to many more patients and by beginning to put in place policies to address the growing shortage of primary care physicians.
Our second story today is about the March report that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released earlier this month. MedPAC is the committee that makes recommendations to Congress on payment issues. In their latest report the Commission recommended only a modest increase in payment rates for 2011, however they did also note that accessing primary care is a problem and payments need to be adjusted to correct that.
Our final story looks at a new report from the AMA that shows that competition is fast disappearing in the private insurance market and what the lack of competition could mean for you and your patients. (The health reform bill would introduce many more competitive insurance options in many of these markets.)
For more coverage of health care reform and what’s happening in Washington, take a look at my award-winning blog, The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty.
And, as always, please send your feedback and suggestions on this newsletter to: TheACPAdvocate@acponline.org.
Senior Vice President
Governmental Affairs and Public Policy
American College of Physicians