Healthcare Business News
Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association

Doc associations laud Obama's Medicare, gun violence remarks

By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: February 13, 2013 - 12:30 pm ET

Most physician groups either are being slow to respond to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address or are staying out of the pundit game. But those that did comment supported the president's plans to address gun violence and his Medicare remarks.

“Focusing the nation's energy and resources on our children—by supporting high-quality preschool programs, access to affordable healthcare, policies that protect children from the devastating effects of gun violence, and those that help lift children out of poverty—will keep children safe, healthy and allow them to thrive,” Dr. Thomas McInerny, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in an e-mailed news release. “The nation's pediatricians look forward to partnering with the administration on these and other initiatives that put children first.”

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Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association, said in a statement that the AMA agrees with Obama on ending “senseless acts of gun violence,” providing veterans with mental health services and the need for Medicare reform.

“The AMA supports the adoption of new models for delivering and paying for patient care that help promote quality and achieve cost savings,” Lazarus said in the release. “Congress must take the fiscally responsible action of repealing the Medicare physician payment formula, which will protect access to care for seniors and allow us to move to a Medicare system that encourages quality care while reducing costs.”

Dr. Jeffrey Cain, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said in a statement that the AAFP welcomed the president's “continued focus” on health and safety and appreciated his commitment to redesigning the way healthcare services are provided and paid for.

“With implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and its commitment to building a healthcare system with a strong primary care foundation, we are beginning to bring down costs,” Cain said. “By continuing to promote reforms such as paying for the quality of care in settings like the patient-centered medical home, we will improve the continuity of care, end fragmentation and duplication of services, refocus services on preventing illness or its complications, and begin to rein in costs for both the patient and the nation.”

Reactions from physicians holding political office were basically split down party lines.

On Twitter, Rep. Phil Gingrey, (R-Ga.), described the speech as “heavy on rhetoric, light on reality.” While Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) tweeted that the “President's focus on jobs is exactly right.”

Both Bera and Rep. Michael Burgess, (R-Texas), co-chair of the Congressional Health Caucus, issued statements that did not mention healthcare.

Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) issued a statement noting the multiple areas where he disagreed with Obama—particularly on plans for what Heck described as “tax increases and more stimulus-style spending.” But Heck said he agreed with the president's goal of moving the healthcare system away from paying for volume and toward paying for value.

“I was pleased to hear the President endorse an approach to strengthening Medicare that bases Medicare spending not on the amount of services performed but rather on the quality of care given, consistent with the bipartisan legislation I introduced last week,” Heck said.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat and former emergency room physician who attended the speech, said it “delivered a compelling vision” for the country and for growing the middle class.

“I am proud to be a part of it, and Oregon stands ready to do our part,” Kitzhaber said in a news release. “Our partnership with the administration on healthcare and education innovations offers a model for federal flexibility and local accountability that can help lead the way to a more prosperous future.”

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