AAFP Responds to Health, Safety Issues in Obama's State of Union Address

February 13, 2013 04:10 pm News Staff

In response to President Obama's State of the Union address on Feb. 12, the AAFP said in a prepared statement that it "welcomes the continued focus President Obama put on the health and safety of all Americans" in his address.

During his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, President Obama pledged to bring down health care costs by changing how the government pays for Medicare, saying medical bills "should be based on the quality of care our seniors receive."

"We appreciate the president's commitment to reforms that redesign the way we provide and pay for health care services," said AAFP President Jeff Cain, M.D., of Denver. "His promise to preserve Medicare benefits while acknowledging that new reforms are required is a welcome step toward ensuring health security for elderly and disabled patients for generations to come."

Obama vowed to reduce Medicare costs by changing the way the government pays for the program. "Our medical bills shouldn't be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital -- they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive," said Obama. "And I am open to additional reforms from both parties so long as they don't violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn't make promises we cannot keep, but we must keep the promises we've already made."

In his speech, Obama referred to the slowing growth in health care costs, which is something Cain also called out by noting that the health care reform law's emphasis on primary care has played a role in holding down health care costs.

"We have started on a path that promises to lead to higher-quality care, better outcomes for patients and improved cost-efficiency," said Cain. "By continuing to promote reforms, such as paying for the quality of care in settings like the patient-centered medical home, we will improve the continuity of care, end fragmentation and duplication of services, refocus services on preventing illness or its complications, and begin to rein in costs for the patient and the nation."

Obama also said senators from both parties are working together on new laws to prevent individuals from buying guns that they then resell to criminals. Police chiefs are asking for help in getting "weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets because they are tired of being outgunned," said Obama.

In his statement, Cain expressed the AAFP's appreciation for the president's "continued commitment to public health and safety with proposals to counter the devastating toll of gun violence on our nation."

"It's a complex public health problem that requires a comprehensive response, including effective mental health care, research on safety and prevention, and preserving the physician's right to have conversations with patients and families who may be at risk for gun violence."