The End-Game on Health Care Reform

The ACP Advocate

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March 19, 2010
In this issue
» Health-Care Reform Nearing Final Vote in House

» Medicare Commission Advocates for Change in Fees

» More States Have Fewer Insurers, New Report Reveals

About this newsletter

The ACP Advocate is an e-newsletter, edited by the College's Washington, DC governmental affairs division, created to provide you, our members, with succinct news about public policy issues affecting internal medicine and patient care. To learn more about ACP's Advocacy and to access the ACP Advocate archives, go to

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:

Yours truly,

Bob Doherty
Senior Vice President
Governmental Affairs and Public Policy
American College of Physicians


In the news
» Health-Care Reform Nearing Final Vote in House
  ACP joins health organizations in getting out the 'yes' vote

A final vote on health-care reform could come as early as Sunday.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives released a package of legislative adjustments that, combined with the bill passed by the Senate in December, will form the final legisla... » Click to read the full article

» Medicare Commission Advocates for Change in Fees
  Annual report to Congress also assesses access to care

Congress should raise Medicare payments for physician services by 1 percent in 2011, urges a new report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent agency that advises Congress on issues affecting Medicare.

Physicia... » Click to read the full article

» More States Have Fewer Insurers, New Report Reveals
  A wave of uncontested mergers is blamed for the drop in competition

Competition in the health insurance industry is dwindling, with most U.S. markets dominated by just one or two insurers, according to a new report from the American Medical Association.

In 24 of 43 states, the two largest insurers had a comb... » Click to read the full article

In focus
Health Professionals to March in Support of Health Care Reform
ACP has lent its support to physicians and other health professionals who will be gathering in Washington to rally for health care reform on Monday, March 22. Participants will gather at Freedom Plaza near the White House and listen to a series of speakers before marching to the Capitol building. The Chair of ACP’s Board of Regents, Frederick E. Turton, FACP, will be among the speakers addressing the critical need for health care reform. Information about how to participate is online.

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