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American College of Physicians (ACP) Supports Goals of Republican Uninsured Task Force and Urges Bipartisan Approach

May 17, 2004

(Washington, DC) The American College of Physicians (ACP) today commended the efforts of the US Senate's Republican Task Force on Health Care Costs and the Uninsured to address the nation's major health care challenges.

"ACP is glad to see that the problems facing the health care system are once again receiving much needed attention," said Charles K. Francis, MD, FACP, president of ACP. "Many of the Task Force's recommendations align closely with the College's own policies for helping the uninsured."

Like the Republican Task Force, ACP supports the use of refundable and advanced tax credits and new insurance options to enable more Americans to obtain health insurance coverage. The College also supports the task force's recommendation to encourage more eligible Americans to sign up for public insurance programs like Medicaid and SCHIP.

ACP applauded the task force recommendation for reforming the medical liability system by limiting awards for non-economic damages. Likewise, ACP is committed to making prescription drugs more affordable and encouraging more doctors to participate in safety net programs.

The College has its own proposal for expansion of health insurance coverage for all Americans within seven years. This proposal is reflected in the HealthCARE Act of 2003 (S. 1030/H.R. 2402), a bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). The plan incorporates approaches that have been recommended by health policy experts across the political spectrum, ranging from market-based reforms to improvements in safety net programs. The bill calls for giving states an option of simplifying and improving Medicaid by basing eligibility solely on financial need, Like the GOP Task Force report, it also calls for federal income tax credits to subsidize the purchase of health insurance by individuals, staring with families with incomes at or below 200% of poverty. Another step involves creation of market-based health insurance pools through which premium subsidy recipients and small businesses would have the option to purchase private group coverage.

The HealthCARE Act of 2003 is supported by leading physician and consumer groups including: Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Cardiology, American College of Rheumatology, American Geriatrics Society, Infectious Disease Society of America, and the Renal Physicians Association and Families USA. The bill has 25 House co-sponsors.

"We look forward to working with adopting the best ideas from both political parties to come up with a bipartisan solution to the uninsured crisis"," said Francis.

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses in adults.

Jack Pope (202) 261-4556, jpope@acponline.org
Jacquelyn Blaser, (202) 261-4572, jblaser@acponline.org

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