OSMA Opposes Current Draft of H.R. 3962, the "Affordable Health Care for America Act"

The Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) has expressed its opposition to H.R. 3962, the "Affordable Health Care for America Act," a current draft of health system reform legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"As physicians, we understand better than many others that the status quo of the health care delivery system is unsustainable," said OSMA President Roy H. Thomas, MD. "The OSMA supports many of the goals of this bill. However, the total proposal lacks many of the critical elements necessary for successfully reforming America's health care delivery system and strengthening the physician-patient relationship."

The OSMA sent a letter to Ohio's Congressional Delegation voicing several concerns on several parts of the bill. Specifically, the bill does not include a permanent fix to the flawed Medicare payment formula, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR). On Jan. 1, 2010, Medicare physician payments are scheduled to be cut by 21.2 percent, with projected cuts of 40 percent or more anticipated in future years. Any legislation that fails to eliminate the SGR formula, or proposes another short-term patch that leaves the underlying problem in place will continue to build upon a faulty foundation and will jeopardize seniors' access to care.

H.R. 3962 also does not include health care cost saving measures such as comprehensive federal medical liability reforms, similar to those enacted in Ohio. The measure also expands enrollment in an already overburdened and strained Medicaid program by increasing eligibility to 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In addition, H.R. 3962 places unnecessary restrictions on physician-owned hospitals, among other concerns.

"We sincerely hope that the deficiencies in the current draft of the bill can be addressed and that the OSMA will be able to support a final bill, which deals with problems in our health care delivery system not yet addressed in the current proposal," Thomas said.

The OSMA supports many of the health system reform goals of H.R. 3962. These goals include access for all Americans to affordable health insurance coverage, the establishment of a health insurance exchange, the elimination of health insurers' ability to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, investment in prevention and wellness services, funding of patient centered medical homes and other initiatives to expand access to care.