Presidential Candidates Offer Perspective of the Future of Health Care Under Their Administration

In case you missed the dueling opinion editorial pieces that ran in the New England Journal of Medicine in late September by President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential nominee, Governor Mitt Romney, you can access a summary by clicking here.

In short, the two Presidential candidates outlined their perspectives on the current state of the health care system and how each envisioned their respective Administrations, if elected, would deal with the country’s most pressing health care issues. To no surprise, the President and Mitt Romney shared different visions for the health care system. President Obama cited his efforts in reforming health care by passing the Affordable Care Act, while Governor Romney emphasized his commitment to repealing the law and its effect on businesses and costs.

On the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), the President expressed his frustration with Congress’ inability to repeal and replace the current SGR system during his Administration and said he continues to support a permanent fix to the flawed formula. In contrast, Governor Romney said he supports transitioning Medicare to a premium support model, and would allow a variation of a fee-for-service program in his plan.

However, both Presidential candidates did agree that medical liability reform was needed now to “protect physicians from needless lawsuits” and to lower the rising cost of health care, which should be a welcome sign for physicians. To read more about the candidates’ views on health care:

President Obama’s op-ed, click here. Governor Romney’s op-ed, click here.

Republican Chairmen Ask HHS to Delay Meaningful Use Incentives

In an October 4 letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Republican lawmakers said that HHS should suspend the incentive payments for the meaningful use program (EHR) and delay any penalties until perceived flaws in the program are corrected. The four signers of the letter, Chairman Dave Camp of the Ways and Means Committee, Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) of the Energy and Commerce Committee and two-Republican Chairmen of the Sub-committees that oversee health care issues, Congressmen Wally Herger (R-CA) and Joe Pitts (R-PA), said that the threshold of the interoperability standards for the Stage 2 Meaningful Use programs do not go far enough to merit incentive payments to some providers and were too low. So far, the EHR incentive payment programs have, through June of this year, disbursed $7.1 billion to 140,500 providers.  The letter also claimed that penalties for providers were unwarranted, since the new rules would not hold a certain percentage of physicians accountable for setting up systems that did not speak to each other as a result of the rules.  For more information, click here to view the letter.