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Richard Umbdenstock
Umbdenstock

Provider groups praise reform legislation


By Jennifer Lubell
Posted: March 23, 2010 - 2:00 pm ET
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Provider groups hailed the president's historic signing of the Senate's healthcare reform bill, which seeks to overhaul the healthcare system through the establishment of a new insurance marketplace, expansions to Medicaid and various insurance reforms.

“America's hospitals have long been committed to ensuring healthcare coverage for all. While the path to universal coverage has been long, today we are closer than ever to reaching this important goal,” Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, said in a written statement.

Signature of the bill means “32 million people will now have access to healthcare coverage, significant insurance market reforms will be enacted and a solid foundation will be laid upon which we can continue to build and improve our nation's health and healthcare system,” Umbdenstock said.

J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, specifically praised the bill's provisions to increase payments for primary-care physicians caring for Medicaid patients and bonus payments for physicians in underserved areas, as well as improving competition and choice in the insurance marketplace, and promoting prevention and wellness and clinical comparative-effectiveness research. “Physicians see firsthand the pain and heartbreak that being uninsured causes in the lives of America's patients. Today, we move forward to start to ease that pain,” Rohack said in a written statement.

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Mark Covall, president and CEO of the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, was pleased the legislation would offer mental health and substance abuse benefits through the new health exchanges for small businesses and the individual market. Other provider groups reminded the Senate of their remaining task ahead: to approve a smaller set of fixes that make changes to the larger Senate bill.

Joseph Stubbs, president of the American College of Physicians, urged senators to “promptly enact the improvements” included in the corrections bill, such as “increasing the subsidies to making coverage affordable, providing equitable support to all states to cover the cost of expanding Medicaid, eliminating the Medicare Part D doughnut hole and increasing Medicaid payments for primary care physicians.”

That mission will be accomplished, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) indicated. “Going forward, I am confident we can work together and act swiftly to enact improvements to the legislation signed by the president today,” he said in a written statement.

The physician groups in their respective statements also asked Congress to move swiftly on a permanent repeal to Medicare's troubled sustainable growth rate formula.

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