Physician groups call for healthcare reform

Ten of the nation's leading physician associations have jointly releases 11 principles to reform the U.S. healthcare system. This united effort has been undertaken to drive bipartisan Congressional action to cover the uninsured. The groups have focused on the fact that many new faces in Congress got their seats, in part, by campaigning for healthcare reform. Essentially, physicians view the time as ripe for change in the industry.

"Doctors want Congress to take action on health system reform this year," said Rick Kellerman, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a practicing family physician in Wichita, Kan. "Physicians are coming together to support these principles because they want the best care for their patients and if these principles are adopted, patients will be the main beneficiaries."

The physician groups come from numerous specialties, emphasizing the broad support for the principles.

"All patients deserve access to quality care, and national efforts to address healthcare quality must proceed in parallel to efforts to expand coverage and access," said Steven E. Nissen, MD, FACC, president of the American College of Cardiology (ACC). "We have an obligation to improve healthcare by delivering appropriate and quality medical services using evidence-based medicine. The ACC is committed to this fundamental principal and, in turn, ensuring that all employers, individuals and families have access to affordable health coverage."

The Principles For Reform of the U.S. Health Care System call for the following actions, according to a joint release from the groups:

  • 1.  Healthcare coverage for all is needed to ensure quality of care and to improve the health status of Americans.

  • 2.  The healthcare system in the U.S. must provide appropriate healthcare to all people within the U.S. borders, without unreasonable financial barriers to care.

  • 3.  Individuals and families must have catastrophic health coverage to provide protection from financial ruin.

  • 4.  Improvement of health care quality and safety must be the goal of all health interventions, so that we can assure optimal outcomes for the resources expended.

  • 5.  In reforming the healthcare system, we as a society must respect the ethical imperative of providing healthcare to individuals, responsible stewardship of community resources, and the importance of personal health responsibility.

  • 6.  Access to and financing for appropriate health services must be a shared public/private cooperative effort, and a system which will allow individuals/employers to purchase additional services or insurance.

  • 7.  Cost management by all stakeholders, consistent with achieving quality health care, is critical to attaining a workable, affordable and sustainable healthcare system.

  • 8.  Less complicated administrative systems are essential to reduce costs, create a more efficient healthcare system, and maximize funding for healthcare services.

  • 9.  Sufficient funds must be available for research (basic, clinical, translational and health services), medical education, and comprehensive health information technology infrastructure and implementation.

  • 10. Sufficient funds must be available for public health and other essential medical services to include, but not be limited to, preventive services, trauma care and mental health services.

  • 11. Comprehensive medical liability reform is essential to ensure access to quality healthcare.