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Lawmakers Address AAFP Conference
Congressional Representatives Provide Differing Views on Health Care Reform
By James Arvantes • Washington, D.C.
- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., told family physicians that Congress will work on retaining certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if the Supreme Court rules that the law is unconstitutional.
- In addition, she noted that Republicans and Democrats might try to salvage the state-level health insurance exchanges.
- Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health, also addressed conference attendees, extolling the coverage expansions resulting from the Affordable Care Act.
- a provision that bars insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions;
- a provision that allows children younger than age 26 years to remain on their parents' health insurance plans; and
- a provision closing the Medicare Part D prescription coverage gap, also known as the "doughnut hole."
"What I would like to see within the (exchanges) are as many options as possible. For those who want to have a health savings account, they should be able to do so. If they want a different type of plan, they should be able to do that, too."
"The 2010 health care (law) multiplies these entanglements and proposes a level of conflicting micromanagement that will further erode the basic task of taking care of patients."
Pallone's message was that the health care reform law will greatly expand access to care, benefiting both patients and physicians alike. He also stressed that the Affordable Care Act is focused on prevention and wellness, making primary care a key component of the health care reform law.
"You all know that prevention pays off," said Pallone. "We don't want people going to the emergency room. We want them to have insurance."
Pallone also addressed the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, calling for a long-term fix. "Everyone is tired of six-month extensions, nine-month extensions or even, in some cases, one-month extensions," said Pallone.
Congressional Democrats have urged Congress to use savings from reductions in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to cover the cost of repealing the SGR. "You should talk about how we have to have a long-term fix," Pallone told AAFP members, who planned to visit their congressional representatives the following day.
But Congress should not take money from the health care system itself to pay for the SGR repeal, Pallone said. That amounts to "robbing Peter to pay Paul."