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Five Health Stakeholders Respond to Senate Reform Bill's Passage

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media, December 24, 2009

Politicians and pundits are opining about the Senate's approval of health reform legislation Thursday morning. Depending on your political slant, the bill is somewhere between a forward step toward improving healthcare and an expensive plan that will lead to more government intrusion.

But what do health leaders think of the final bill? Here are comments from five health stakeholders:

J. James Rohack, MD
President
American Medical Association

"The Senate bill will improve choice and access to affordable health insurance coverage and eliminate denials based on pre-existing conditions. It will increase coverage for preventive and wellness care that can lead to better disease prevention and management, and further the development of comparative effectiveness research that can help patients and physicians make informed treatment decisions. Patients will no longer face lifetime limits on health coverage or higher premiums based on medical conditions or gender.

"While this vote closes one chapter of the legislative process, the hard work is not yet done. The AMA will stay constructively engaged throughout the House and Senate conference process to continue to improve the final bill and assure the best outcome for patients and physicians.

"Important issues that need to be resolved in the House-Senate conference committee include the scope, authority, accountability, and transparency of a payment advisory board. The details of several cost control and quality improvement initiatives also need to be refined so that they do not have unintended consequences for patients and physicians.

"Separate action is needed early next year to permanently repeal the current Medicare physician payment formula to preserve access to care for America's seniors, baby boomers, and military families by creating a stable physician payment system."

Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR
President
American Nurses Association

"This is a victory for advocates of meaningful healthcare reform. We are poised to see the most significant piece of legislation passed in a generation; legislation that ensures millions of Americans receive coverage, strengthens the nation's preventive and wellness care, and addresses critical shortages in the healthcare workforce."

Karen Ignagni
President and CEO
America's Health Insurance Plans

"Providing all Americans with healthcare coverage is crucial for the country. Health plans support legislative changes that would provide guaranteed access to all Americans, with no pre-existing condition limitations and no health-status-based premiums. These reforms are essential to giving all Americans greater peace of mind and health security.

"At the same time, specific provisions in this legislation will increase, rather than decrease, healthcare costs; reduce coverage options; and disrupt existing coverage for families, seniors, and small businesses—particularly between now and when the legislation is fully implemented in 2014.

"These issues can and should be addressed if healthcare reform is going to fulfill the promise of providing all Americans with guaranteed access to affordable, portable health care coverage."

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