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Monday, November 23, 2009

TMA ANNOUNCES: “SENATE HEALTH PLAN BAD MEDICINE FOR OUR PATIENT”

With extensive input from our Task Force on Health System Reform and the Council on Legislation, the TMA Board of Trustees determined that the association will not support the U.S. Senate’s draft health reform bill (HR 3590) 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,” TMA President Bill Fleming, MD, said in a news release we issued before the Senate’s initial vote on Saturday. “But, on the whole, the Senate health plan is bad medicine for our patients.” TMA based its analysis on the 17-point set of principles the House of Delegates adopted this year and on the results of an extensive survey of physician members conducted last week. Here are the pieces we like and support in HR 3590:
  • It would provide incentives for primary care,
  • It would require health insurance companies to be more accountable,
  • It would streamline insurance paperwork, and
  • It would enhance physicians’ access to information technology.
The bill, however, does nothing to correct Medicare’s flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that is mandating a 21-percent cut in physician payments effective Jan. 1. It also would:
Increase the cost of health insurance for our patients and deliver even less in return;
Quadruple federal government interference, bureaucracy, and red tape for patients and physicians;
  • Create incentives for patients to pay a fine for not having insurance rather than pay an unrealistic amount for insurance coverage;
  • Neither protect Texas’ liability reforms nor expand those protections to patients and physicians in other states; and
  • Impose untested and arbitrary treatment standards that do not improve the quality of patient care.
Look for additional information and TMA action alerts to write our two U.S. senators in the coming weeks as the Senate debate continues.

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