Lonesome Tree in Sandhills

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Health Care Reform: Part II - Physicians Support Health Care Reform

The MAJOR BATTLE over Health Care Reform is being fought between physicians and insurance companies, HMO's and PPO Networks -- not in town hall skirmishes. The nation's FAMILY DOCTORS believe our current health care system IS dysfunctional and that significant benefits in patient care and cost reduction can be realized from a system built on primary care and diagnostic skills.

Now those 450,000 physicians want YOU to know THEY SUPPORT the HEALTH CARE REFORM PLAN proposed by Congress and President Obama, to overhaul the financing, delivery and reach of health insurance - especially a vigorous assault on unnecessary, unproductive and complex administrative requirements imposed by multiple level requirements of the current health care system. They have tried to make their support abundantly clear through the following efforts:

1.   American Academy of Family Physicians - Statement of Support
"The American Academy of Family Physicians agrees with President Barack Obama that the American people cannot wait for health care reform. Family physicians see first hand the fallout from our broken system, as more patients are priced out of health care coverage or lose health insurance and forgo needed health care services. -- Our nation must redesign the way we deliver health care so that we pay for quality of care, not the quantity of tests and procedures performed. We must have a health care system that fosters the doctor-patient relationship and ensures the preventive care that saves lives and money."
The AAFP was organized in 1947 and represents 94,000 family physicians.  AAFP is a member of the Herndon Alliance, a coalition of more than 200 nonpartisan organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Nurses Association, the AARP, the Mayo Clinic and the Families USA.

2.   Physicians Launch: Heal Health Care Now
The AAFP & Herndon Alliance launched Heal Health Care Now as an online information resource to counter the most potent anti-reform arguments with their most trusted spokespersons. Primary care FAMILY DOCTORS describe how health care reform will improve their care of patients by:  a) increased quality, affordability and access of care; b) assuring the patient's choice of doctor and health plan; and c) bringing insurance in line with what is medically best for patients. (See video in sidebar)

3.   Letter of Support for Reform to U.S. Senate.
Organizations representing 450,000 doctors signed and delivered a joint letter supporting the Health Care Reform Plan to leaders of the Senate. The doctors are members of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American College of Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association, the American Medical Student Association, Doctors for America and the National Physicians Alliance. Their letter reads in part:
"We are confident that the reforms being proposed will allow us to provide better quality care to our patients, while preserving patient choice of plan and doctor."
4.   Medical Management Coalition Plan: Voluntarily Reduce Red Tape & Costs.
Healthcare Administrative Simplification Coalition (HASC) released its report:  
"Bringing Better Value: Recommendations to Address the Costs and Causes
of Administrative Complexity in the Nation’s Healthcare System
The 34-pg. report outlines HASC's nationwide plan to reduce bureacratic red tape causing treatment delays and costly paperwork largely related to billing and payment. HASC estimates that 25% of all health spending is wasted by unnecessary duplication and complex administration requirements. Their plan would save an estimated $50 billion a year - $500 billion over 10 years - and permit physicians to spend more time on patient services.  Expected savings represents 1/2 of the estimated costs of the Health Care Reform Plan - $1 trillion cost over 10 years.  The Report can be download here

HASC's Plan calls for physician practices, hospitals, insurance payers, benefits managers and others to voluntarily adopt coordinated nationwide key administrative processes. The Report focuses on provider credentialing, eligibility verification, patient IDs and prior authorization:
* Physician and Clinician Credentialing: One standardized credentialing form to eliminate administrative costs of completing multiple different forms for insurance payers, hospitals and others.
* Patient Eligibility for Insurance: Adoption of an industry-wide standard for interchangeable electronic data to quickly and accurately verify a patient's insurance coverage.
* Patient Identity Cards: Standardized machine-readable patient ID cards to significantly reduce costly errors and delays in the medical claims billing process.
* Prior Authorization of Radiology and Pharmacy:  Standardized request and receipt of patient eligibility for radiology and pharmacy services to reduce treatment delays and costly paperwork.
HASC was organized in 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). HASC now includes some of the nation’s leading physician and hospital organizations, health and benefits plans, employers, government agencies, and other groups that share the goals of simplifying administrative processes in the nation’s public and private health care financing programs.

FAMILY PHYSICIANS are the cornerstone of a health care system increasingly fragmented by specialties.  The number of family physicians in training has drastically declined - a significant need addressed by the Health Care Reform Plan.

AAFP provides charts and graphs on family physician primary care. AAFP Media Center at: www.aafp.org

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