OSMA Statement on the Passage of H.R. 3962, the "Affordable Health Care for America Act"

Roy H. Thomas, MD, president of the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA), issued the following statement in reaction to the passage of H.R. 3962, the “Affordable Health Care for America Act,” in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) has long advocated for changes to address the problems in our health care delivery system. As such, we supported many initiatives in H.R. 3962, the “Affordable Health Care for America Act,” that expand access to care. However, we took a position of opposition to the bill because of several glaring deficiencies in the proposal.

These deficiencies include the absence of a permanent fix to the flawed Medicare payment formula, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR) as well as a lack of comprehensive federal medical liability reforms. The bill also contains an unwise expansion of an already overburdened and strained Medicaid program and places unnecessary restrictions on physician-owned hospitals, among other concerns.

In the wake of the passage of H.R. 3962, we are urging members of the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately pass H.R. 3961, the “Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act.” H.R. 3961 provides a permanent fix to the outdated Medicare SGR formula.

As it stands now, Medicare physician payments are scheduled to be cut by 21.2 percent on Jan. 1 2010, with projected cuts of 40 percent or more anticipated in future years. Retaining this flawed and outdated formula runs contrary to the legislation passed by the House and will jeopardize seniors’ access to care.

As the legislative process moves forward, we call on elected leaders in the U.S. Senate to address the deficiencies in H.R. 3962 and draft a proposal that guarantee patients access to high-quality, cost-effective medical care. We look forward to providing continued input on this process. It is our hope to be able to support health system reform legislation that establishes a more efficient and complete health care delivery system, preserves the physician-patient relationship and deals with problems in our current system not addressed in H.R. 3962.”