AID discusses health-care fixes with leading lawmakers and physician leaders
Laws to increase price transparency, stop health-care consolidation and promote site-neutrality were all on the agenda during a packed two-day March meeting in Washington DC, where the Association of Independent Doctors presented to lawmakers and physician leaders.
Speaking on behalf of AID, executive director Marni Jameson Carey spoke to the National Physicians’ Council for Healthcare Policy on “The Case for Site-Neutrality,” arguing for a law that would require payments for the same procedures to be the same regardless of where the procedure was performed. Currently, because of how the law is written, Medicare and other payors pay hospitals significantly more than they do independent doctors for the same procedure. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has long recommended site-neutrality as a way to bring down health-care costs and slow or stop the trend of hospitals buying up medical groups, but Congress has yet to enact a bill.
Hosted by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), the NPCHP meets twice a year, and brings together more than 100 policy-minded physicians, medical economists and lawmakers who want to fix the nation’s broken health-care system.
A national nonprofit trade association that began in Winter Park, Fla., five years ago to help doctors stay independent, AID now has members in 33 states nationwide. Carey was happy to see 10 or so AID members at the NPCHP meeting, including Orlando orthopedist Larry Halperin, who sits in AID’s executive committee.
“Everyone in that room is a rock star in the health-care movement,” said Carey. “These doctors are passionate, articulate, fed up and fighting for change,” said Carey.
Other speakers covered the need to repeal the Safe Harbor Act (which allows group purchasing organizations and pharmacy benefits managers to siphon $200 billion out of the health-care system each year); the true cost of electronic health records; and the need for balance billing, physician-owned hospitals and expanded health savings accounts.
Among the lawmakers and officials who presented to the group were U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon (Ind.), a cardiothoracic surgeon; U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (Ore), current chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee; U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.); Dr. Vanila Singh, chief medical officer for the Department of Health and Human Services; and Demetrios Kouzoukas, principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As you can imagine, the group had many questions for these officials.
After the NPCHP meeting, Carey spent two more days attending health policy meetings, receptions, and panel discussions, where she met other policy leaders, including U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall (Kan.), an ob-gyn; and U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (Wisc.), co-author of HR 4808, a health-care transparency bill that AID supports.
“The only way we’re going to get the sweeping changes we need at the federal level is to make these lawmakers aware of the problems and their solutions,” said Carey.
April Spencer works for The Association of Independent Doctors, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping reduce health-care costs by helping consumers, businesses and lawmakers understand the value of keeping America’s doctors independent www.aid-us.org.
By April Spencer