Healthcare Business News

Doc groups back Obama plan on guns

By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: January 18, 2013 - 12:15 pm ET

Physician groups applauded President Barack Obama's plan to reduce gun violence. In particular, enthusiasm was expressed for plans to boost mental health funding, ending a freeze on gun violence research and clarifying that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not prevent doctors from asking patients about guns in their homes.

“The nation's pediatricians applaud President Obama for his leadership in the wake of the recent violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.,” said Dr. Thomas McInerny, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics in a statement on the AAP website. “The Academy agrees with the president that to prevent future incidents like the shooting in Newtown, there must be stronger gun laws, comprehensive access to mental healthcare, and no restrictions on federal gun violence research and prevention efforts.”

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In a letter to the president, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Jeffrey Cain, said his group supports the president's executive order clarifying that no federal law prohibits doctors from discussing gun safety with their patients. Cain added that “We must now work to ensure that state laws preventing such communications are repealed.”

In a statement, Dr. David Bronson, president of the American College of Physicians, said his group supports lifting the freeze on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. He noted that the ACP will also conduct a “comprehensive review of the evidence on causes and solutions to violence related to firearms and other forms of violence,” and will share its analysis later this year.

The American Psychiatric Association said in a statement from its president, Dr. Dilip Jeste, that it supported a new initiative the president outlined that trains school personnel to ensure that students who may need help are referred for treatment. He noted how it aligned with an APA program on helping educators identify and respond to the early signs of mental health problems.

“We are heartened that the administration plans to finalize rules governing mental health parity under the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid,” Jeste added. “We strongly urge the administration to close loopholes involving so-called 'non-quantitative treatment limits' and to ensure that health plans deliver a full scope of mental health services in order to comply with the law.”

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