Philadelphia, PA (June 2, 2020) – A group of American College of Physicians (ACP) leaders say policy recommendations outlined in the organization’s “Better is Possible: The American College of Physicians Vision for the U.S. Health Care System,” can help advise current actions during the COVID-19 pandemic and guide future actions to improve access to care, reduce per capita health care costs, and reduce health care system complexity. The Ideas and Opinions article, “The Collison of COVID-19 and the U.S. Health Care System,” is published today in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Lead author, Sue. S. Bornstein, MD, FACP, says that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed underlying flaws in the U.S. health care system, including lack of universal coverage and access, socioeconomic inequalities, race-and ethnicity-based marginalization, and gendered consequences. “This widespread public health crisis has wreaked havoc on patients and left many health care systems unable to provide much needed care. Enough is enough. The time is now to address our system’s shortcomings and enact real change.”
The authors say the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need for improving access to care for all Americans, as universal coverage would help millions of uninsured Americans and provide a safety net for those facing financial burden. At least 30 million Americans remain uninsured and many more underinsured. Although most American workers have employer-based insurance, those covered decreased from 67.3% in 1999 to 55.9% by 2017, while increasing deductibles and copays were adding to the financial burden in accessing care. More than 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment since March 2020. The authors also reaffirm that a robust primary care system helps to ensure accessible, affordable, comprehensive health care for all.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has also demonstrated how factors of race and ethnicity, as well as other socioeconomic factors, are contributing to an inequitable health care system, resulting in poor outcomes for these populations. ACP’s New Vision for U.S. Health Care makes policy recommendations to reduce social factors and eliminate social barriers for vulnerable and underserved populations.
“As physicians on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe more than ever that better is possible,” said Thomas Cooney, MD, MACP, a senior author on the paper and Chair of ACP’s Health and Public Policy Committee. “We must take the lessons learned of healthcare inequities and injustices and move forward to create a more equitable and just system of care for all.”
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 159,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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