Health Partnership Act Endorsed By American College of Physicians
Proposed Legislation Expands Health Insurance Coverage Through State Projects
(Washington) – The Health Partnership Act – proposed federal legislation to expand health insurance coverage through state health reform projects – was endorsed today by the American College of Physicians (ACP). “Federally supported state experimentation encourages innovation and allows for highly-debated, yet rarely-tested health reform proposals to reveal their strengths and weaknesses,” ACP President Lynne M. Kirk, MD, FACP, wrote sponsor Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-OH) and original co-sponsor Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).
“ACP supports expanding health insurance coverage for all under a system that promotes continuous quality improvement and the objective assessment of the effectiveness of care in terms of both cost and quality,” Kirk emphasized. Under the legislation, she noted, participating states would be measured not only on their ability to increase coverage and reduce cost, but also to increase quality and incorporate health information technology and other quality-enhancing infrastructure. “Research has shown that states that have more primary care physicians deliver better health care at lower cost” noted Dr. Kirk. “The Health Partnership Act would allow for evaluation of reforms that are designed to strengthen and support the role of primary care physicians in delivering high quality, efficient care to patients.”
The legislation gives states the flexibility to test a variety of diverse reform options while still requiring important protections. In her letter to the senators, Kirk pointed out that the “voluntary nature of the state application process is much preferable to establishing an unfunded mandate for states.”
ACP also supports the creation of a State Health Innovation Commission to oversee the selection of grant applications, monitor state progress, and report to the public on the progress made by each state plan. “We cannot over-emphasize the valuable role that physicians and other clinicians would serve if appointed to the Commission,” Kirk said in underscoring her organization’s support.
Kirk concluded her letter of endorsement by noting that The Health Partnership Act offers the country an opportunity to learn from innovative programs while controlling health care costs and maintaining a safety net of standardized minimum benefits and quality standards.
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 119,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illness in adults.