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Doctors Unite for Healthcare Reform

Doctors from every state and specialty are meeting in Houston for a forum that will shape the political agenda of America’s largest physician organization. The gathering of the American Medical Association will include a national physician referendum on health reform legislation. Pat Hernandez spoke with the AMA’s president-elect on the issue.


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The massive healthcare reform bill in the U.S. Houston of Representatives may come to a vote this weekend. The American Medical Association announced its support for the Democratic plan to reform the country’s healthcare system.

“The thought of change becomes so overwhelming, that they say well maybe, doing nothing is a good idea. We would say doing nothing is not a good idea. Where we are now is only going to get worse. We need change and we think we can do it.”

Dr. Cecil Wilson is the incoming president of the AMA. He says the Association has been pointing to this time, with a new administration to address the problem.

“We’re supporting this legislation as a means of moving the process forward to getting to a final product. We’re supporting it because to a great extent, it addresses major changes in the health system that we believe are very helpful. What it does is, it will provide insurance coverage for 96-percent of the population in this country, going up from 83 to 96-percent.”

The package contains major insurance market reform so that no longer will insurance companies deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Wilson thinks it shouldn’t be difficult for anybody to access what he calls
the best healthcare system in the world.

“We spend two to three times what other countries spend on care and that may or may not be good. The important thing  is are we getting value for that money, and the costs are rising. We’re now spending 2.4-trillion dollars a year in this country for healthcare. If we do nothing, ten years we’ll be spending 4.4-trillion. It’s just not sustainable.”

He says studies show that  those with no insurance will put off going to the doctor, but  that increases their chance of getting sicker.

“There’s a moral imperative to do something about this, and that means providing coverage for people, so they can get regular care, so that people who have diabetes can be monitored on a regular basis, so they don’t have the complications you would expect from diabetes, for people who have high blood pressure can be treated, people who have cholesterol. This is essential medical care which is not available to people who don’t have insurance.”

Dr. Wilson says the AMA also supports the Medicare reimbursement bill that would avert a substantial pay cut for doctors, forcing patients to find a physician willing to treat them. The conference runs through Tuesday at the
Brown Convention Center.                                              

PH, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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