First, on behalf of the leadership and staff, best wishes to you and your family for a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year. This has been an important year for the National Medical Association (NMA). Your leadership has been busy in a number of areas; I will mention just a few.
The Affordable Care Act
The National Medical Association continues to enthusiastically endorse the Affordable Care Act. The White House has already acknowledged that the website has been a problem, but assures America that it will be fixed in the immediate future. However, we must remember that a website is not a program; and in most parts of the country, the enrollment process is proceeding effectively.
We are excited about the Affordable Care Act because millions of Americans, many of whom are African Americans, will now receive both the quality and quantity of healthcare that they need. In addition, we are working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Congress to ensure that every American can keep the health care provider of their choice. Many of our member physicians have reported that networks and insurance companies have attempted to prevent them from seeing patients that they have traditionally served. I have been assured by the Congress that this was not the intent of the legislation and we are working aggressively to make the changes necessary in your behalf.
We will need your input and support as members of the National Medical Association. You must let us know in the areas where you live if you see African American physicians being excluded systematically from providing services through the Affordable Care Act. Please feel free to contact me directly at 510-220-1169 or at [email protected]
Very soon we hope to have a resource center to process the information that you give us from your state.
The Hepatitis C Panel
The Hepatitis C Panel, under the leadership of two distinguished past presidents, Dr. Cedric M. Bright and Dr. Rahn K. Bailey, released its report and recommendations. Since we are close to a cure for Hepatitis C, the NMA recommends that all African Americans be tested and treated.
Sustainable Growth Rate
The NMA has been working with other groups to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate process. Since 2003, we’ve had to patch the SGR 15 times, at a total cost of $150 billion. The current patch cancels a scheduled 24 percent cut in doctor pay – at a cost of around $7 billion. And that’s just for three months. Congress does not appear ready to repeal the flawed payment formula and replace it with a whole new system – one that pays doctors according to the quality of results they produce rather than the quantity of services they provide.
The National Medical Association has been working to reduce these cuts that were due to start January 1, 2014. We will continue to work with our allies to develop these rates in the best interest of our physicians.
Your leadership has been quite successful in containing operating costs on your behalf. As a result, both the 2013 Annual Convention and the National Colloquium on African American Health were successful events. We are working hard to continue this pattern.