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Thursday Jun 28, 2012

After Court Ruling, Academy Prepared to Implement ACA, Address its Shortcomings

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been a divisive issue not only in our country but also amongst our own membership. Clearly, it is far from perfect legislation. But now that the Supreme Court finally has issued its long-awaited ruling, we can move forward with needed health system reforms.

The Academy will continue to work to implement the best pieces of the ACA, advocate for change in provisions of the law that are flawed and address the law's two key deficiencies -- meaningful medical liability reform and a replacement for the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.

The ACA, even with its flaws, provides a pathway to reach the AAFP's vision of health care for all, a policy goal the Academy has been pursuing for more than two decades. By extending health coverage to roughly 30 million more people, the law will improve the health of the nation by ensuring access to basic primary care, including preventive services and chronic disease management.

The court's decision helps our patients by preserving provisions of the ACA that:

  • eliminate annual and lifetime coverage limits;
  • eliminate cost sharing for preventive services;
  • prevent payers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions; and
  • allow young adults to stay on their parents' insurance up to age 26.

For primary care physicians, the court's decision preserved provisions of the ACA that:

  • create Medicare primary care payment incentives; and
  • boost Medicaid payments for primary care services to Medicare levels.

For our workforce, the decision means investment in primary care education and training will continue through:

  • funding for teaching health centers;
  • scholarship and loan repayment programs in the National Health Service Corps;
  • support for the health professions grants for family medicine; and
  • establishment of the Health Care Workforce Commission.

The ruling also means that projects intended to align payment to support medical home transformation will continue. (Speaking of which, the deadline to apply for CMS' Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative is July 20. If you are in one of the initiative's seven markets(www.innovations.cms.gov), I encourage you to apply.)

There is plenty to like, and dislike, about the ACA. The bottom line is that our Academy will work to maximize the provisions of the law that benefit family physicians and our patients while also addressing issues where the law is lacking or deficient.

Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I.is president of the AAFP.

Posted at 06:02PM Jun 28, 2012 by Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I.

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