Health & Public Policy Committee - updated January 2003
The CT Chapter's Health & Public Policy Committee works to promote and protect the interests of the physicians and patients of our state on all these issues and more. We work closely with the Connecticut State Medical Society on many of these issues, and we work to maintain dialogues with legislators representing us in both Hartford and Washington. Rep. Nancy Johnson spoke at our Chapter meeting in October and received our 2002 Legislator of the Year Award for her crucial work on Medicare Reform.
We need grass-roots help from all interested physicians. If you want to be kept informed and would help with letter writing or phone calling when needed, then please contact our H&PP Committee chairman Robert McLean.
2002 Issue Summary
1. Medicare Reimbursement cuts affecting all doctors
Despite massive efforts on the part of the ACP, the AMA, and many other specialty organizations, Congress has failed to act upon the Medicare cuts schedule to occur as a result of the use of a flawed formula. It is hoped that further pressure in January will result in action. This is the highest priority issue at present.
2. Tort Reform
Malpractice insurance rates are seeing increases in crisis proportions and are affecting internists as well as surgical specialists. Connecticut has not yet faced crisis like other states where surgeons are being forced to leave the state due to unaffordable rates or are finding insurance unobtainable. This is currently a priority issue for the CSMS, and our chapter will be working with CSMS closely on the issue.
3. Medicare reform
Legislation to make Medicare easier to use and fairer to physicians passed the House but has not been acted upon by the Senate since other issues within the bill (including a Medicare prescription plan) are more contentious. Rep. Nancy Johnson has been the lead legislator on this issue, and our Chapter awarded her our Legislator of the Year Award for 2002 for her work on it.
4. Patients' Bill of Rights
Patients' rights legislation moved closer to law in 2001 after legislation was passed in the House and Senate with compromises on key issues including the patients' right to outside review. Unfortunately, the bill has remained untouched in a conference committee to reach a compromise on medical liability.
5. Physician Anti-trust relief
Recently introduced legislation to allow physicians to engage in joint negotiations with health plans is the result of the College and other medical associations' efforts to level the playing field between physicians and managed care companies. The Health Care Antitrust Improvement Act of 2002 would allow courts to consider not only the issue of competition when evaluating group negotiating efforts, but also the effect of the joint negotiations on patient access to care and quality of care.
6. Scope of Practice issues
Language in the V.A. appropriation bill allowing chiropractors to be classified as primary care physicians was removed after objections from the ACP and other medical associations. The ACP warned that chiropractors' limited diagnostic training and inability to prescribe medications meant that veterans would not receive adequate care for common ailments.