From The President: Health Care Reform - More of the Same?

Angela Gardner (2)By Angela Gardner, M.D., ACEP President

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

As I write this, the Yankees won their 27th World Series title, the stock market just went up another 100 points, and the Democrats have unveiled yet another new and improved health care plan. It's déjà vu all over again.

It seems like only yesterday, 1993 to be exact, that a Democratic administration was trying to get health care reform legislation through Congress.

Those plans were derailed by a number of things, including a cute couple called Harry and Louise and a health care lobby dead set against change.

It is now 16 years later, and the country is no less divided over health care reform. It has been a polarizing and sometimes brutal debate.

It's easy to see why passions are running so high.

As physicians, we see this as a personal issue. Many of us feel we have been treated very poorly by the current system. We dedicate our lives to helping others, yet we are continually confronted by a system that values the bottom line and obtuse regulations more than patient care.

ACEP believes the status quo is unacceptable. In our testimony before Congress, our discussions with this and the previous administration, and in our public outreach, we have been very clear in our vision for health care reform.

To help ensure our country has a strong emergency care system, the American College of Emergency Physicians supports comprehensive health care reform that includes:

  • Meaningful and affordable health insurance coverage for every person in America.
  • Significant medical liability reform. 
  • The elimination of boarding admitted patients in emergency departments. 
  • The development of a national surge capacity plan for a public health crisis or other catastrophe.

We also agree with Congress and the American people that effective reform must also stress quality and prevention.

But it must also eliminate the Medicare physician payment system that threatens access to primary care for millions of seniors who will inevitably turn to their already overcrowded emergency department for care.

What will the final outcome be? Will it be more of the same?

It might seem strange to say that health care reform is still in the early stages, but it is.

We may not get everything we want during the current congressional session--but overall, America's emergency physicians and the patients they care for will gain important benefits in the process.

From ACEP's perspective, more of the same is unacceptable. Our effort to reform the health care system is not just about us. It's about securing the future of America.

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