AMA ♥ Kyl on Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day, and no doubt retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona was feeling the love at the American Medical Association's advocacy conference in Washington.

Kyl, the conference's early morning speaker Tuesday, talked much about the Medicare doc-fix as lawmakers still work to find a solution—which he said could come as early as today.

“Why are you retiring? We can't let that happen,” AMA President Dr. Peter Carmel asked the lawmaker shortly after Kyl had received strong applause for his views on the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act, a bill that Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a surgeon, introduced last year. The AMA supports the legislation, which would allow Medicare patients and their doctors to enter into private contracts without penalties to either party. Medicare patients would be able to use their benefits to see physicians who do not accept Medicare, rather than having to pay for services out of their own pockets.

“Yes, there should be private contracting,” Kyl said. “It should have been done a long time ago, and I am absolutely supportive of it. Absolutely.”

Earlier, Kyl lent his support to physician-owned hospitals, and said Senate Democrats don't agree with a House bill that would allow physician-owned hospitals to complete already started construction and/or to expand.

“I've made it clear that the Democratic chairman of the Finance Committee, who is the head of the Senate delegation in the conference, cannot declare the Senate position is bipartisan as long as he continues to take that position relative to physician-owned hospitals,” he said, referring to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a longtime opponent of physician-owned hospitals. “All three of the Republicans on the conference—including Dr. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Mike Crapo of Idaho, and I are strongly committed to trying to provide some relief to specialty physician-owned hospitals,” he added. “So that is influx right now. The bottom line here is: I've used the war analogy, but I think it's apropos: decisions are being made in the next many hours that will directly affect you, your colleagues and your patients,” he continued. “You have an opportunity to influence those decisions, and I urge you to focus on what's most doable, most achievable and means the most to you here.”

Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter @MHJZigmond.



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