CMS joins national groups to urge Congress to “protect patients first” in federal health care reform debate
by Kate Alfano, CMS Communications Coordinator
Featured in the July/August 2017 Colorado Medicine.
The Colorado Medical Society joined several leading national organizations, including the American Medical Association, AARP, American Heart Association, and American Cancer Society, among others, to urge lawmakers to “Protect Patients First” in the federal health care debate. In a media event at the Colorado state capitol on June 27, the groups highlighted shortcomings in four main areas: affordability of insurance, access to essential care, protection for those on Medicaid, and protections for those with employer-sponsored health insurance.
CMS President Katie Lozano, MD, FACR, moderated the event. In her opening remarks, she suggested, “At a minimum, Congress should first do no harm. The Senate bill needs to be methodically thought through, not hurried.” She also summarized the highlights of a CMS-member poll conducted June 23-26, noting that “79 percent of CMS members disapprove of the approach U.S. Senate and House leaders are taking with the nation’s health delivery system. Should this legislation pass as written, many doctors could be forced into early retirement, stop investments in practice infrastructure, and be left unable to spend enough time with patients to deliver proper care.”
Read a summary of the survey results here.
Brian Eades, MD, an OB/GYN in Delta County, also spoke at the media event and at Fox 31 Denver. “In our hospital, 85 percent of the patients are on Medicaid or Medicare. This bill could force rural hospitals to close, forcing Delta County residents to drive 40-60 miles to see a doctor, which means they will delay needed care or won’t see a doctor at all…. Ultimately this bill could end up closing facilities up and down the Western Slope, leaving Coloradans without the care they need.”
Also on June 27, the AMA released poll data of registered voters in Colorado that shows strong disapproval of policies currently under consideration – particularly Medicaid cuts and narrowed coverage plans. A vote on the Senate health reform bill has been delayed until after the July 4 congressional recess.
The AMA poll found that nearly half of Coloradans polled (47 percent) believe the ACA is a good idea; 36 percent believe it is a bad idea. A majority of voters (58 percent) believe the House health care legislation is a bad idea; 17 percent believe it is a good idea.
On June 26, the AMA sent a letter to Senate leaders outlining its opposition to the bill. Throughout the federal health care reform debate, the AMA has urged that reforms not result in individuals with health insurance losing access to affordable, quality coverage; that Medicaid, CHIP and other safety net programs be adequately funded; and that key market reforms, such as pre-existing conditions, be maintained. After analysis of the Senate draft, the AMA asserts that it violates many of those principles. Read more on the AMA’s federal health reform website, www.patientsbeforepolitics.org.