South Florida Hospital News
Sunday August 25, 2019

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March 2007 - Volume 3 - Issue 9




Healthcare Professionals Respond

President Bush recently unveiled several health care reform proposals in his 2007 State of the Union Address. South Florida Hospital News asked healthcare organizations and healthcare professionals to express their thoughts on his proposals. Here are some responses.

Steven D. Sonenreich
President and Chief Executive Officer
Mount Sinai Medical Center

Preventing the implementation of the Medicaid cuts proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as part of the President’s budget proposal is of critical importance to the health of our state. The funding cuts would irrevocably harm the more than 2.1 million children, poor, disabled and elderly people in Florida who depend on Medicaid as their health care safety net. The rule is projected to result in a loss to Florida’s hospitals of $932 million in federal and state funds annually and more than $4 billion over the next five years. The impact to Mount Sinai Medical Center would be the loss of more than $22 million in Medicaid funding in the first year alone. As a mission-driven, not-for-profit teaching hospital, this would significantly impact Mount Sinai’s ability to provide the quality health care South Florida residents rely on daily.

As such, we have joined the Florida Hospital Association in urging Florida representatives to sign a bipartisan letter opposing the Medicaid cuts. The letter asks the Energy & Commerce and House Ways & Means Committees to craft legislation to prevent CMS from moving forward with the implementation of the proposed Medicaid rule.

In addition, we ask Floridians, physicians, nurses and allied medical professionals to contact their lawmakers and make their voices heard on this vitally important issue. It is our duty to safeguard access to services for uninsured and Medicaid-eligible residents in South Florida.

Rick Kellerman, M.D.
President, American Academy of Family Physicians

President Bush pressed "restart" on the long-stalled national discussion about health care reform.

By putting an innovative proposal to expand health care coverage on the table, he joined America's family physicians and other health care providers, industry leaders, governors of both parties and everyday Americans who know that the health care status quo, with ever-increasing costs and numbers of uninsured, is no longer acceptable. We applaud the President's recognition that "the best health care decisions are not made by government, but by patients and their doctors."

America's family physicians are always supportive of efforts to expand health care coverage for the people in this country. The President's tax proposal may make it more affordable for some uninsured individuals to purchase health insurance on their own. Reauthorizing the States Children Health Insurance Program will help America take care of our most vulnerable – children in families of modest means.

Investing in a modern health information infrastructure, long an AAFP priority, is an important prerequisite to support quality improvements and reduce medical errors.

And passing common sense medical liability reforms, as called for by the President, will help restrain skyrocketing costs and keep good doctors in their practices. These are solid steps that will improve health care in America.

America's family physicians call on our elected leaders in Washington to use this opening to consider the fundamental health system reforms that America needs and deserves. The American people will not be well served until every one of us has affordable access to a "patient-centered medical home" provided by a family physician or another primary care doctor.

Personalized Medicine Coalition Supports President Bush's Call to Congress to Pass the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

The Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) issued the following statement in response to President Bush's call to Congress to pass the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

The Personalized Medicine Coalition fully supports the enactment of GINA. PMC believes that all genetic information, including family history, deserves strong and enforceable protections against misuse in health insurance and employment. Such safeguards will protect patients by ensuring confidentiality of genetic information.

Genetic information provides invaluable insight into an individual's makeup, helping guide treatment decisions, determine possible predisposition towards a disease, and generate data to inform the development of targeted drugs.

Fear of genetic discrimination by employers and insurers currently deters patients from taking full advantage of using genetic information to optimize their healthcare. Confidence in the privacy of genetic information is of utmost importance in order to facilitate patients' participation in clinical trials and encourage the use of genetic-based healthcare options. Patient privacy is a crucial component to the adoption of personalized medicine.

"Currently, federal and state laws offer only a patchwork of protection against the misuse of genetic information," said Edward Abrahams, Ph.D., Executive Director, Personalized Medicine Coalition. "Basic genetic nondiscrimination legal protections need to be established in order to enable and encourage individuals to take advantage of genetic screening, counseling, testing, and the new therapies that will result from the scientific advances in the field of genetics."

Nick Jacobs
President, Windber Medical Center and Windber Research Institute

Citing the need for fiscal accountability, our President has projected dropping by $101 B the spending growth of both Medicare and Medicaid over a five year period. These combined programs serve approximately 1/3 of our country's population with a total combined cost of $560 B this year alone. In actuality these cuts would slow Federal spending for Medicare from 6.5 to 5.6 percent and Medicaid would remain at about seven percent.

To many of us, it appears that the anticipated cuts are arbitrary and could have a serious detrimental impact on the beneficiaries involved. The Democrats are accusing Bush of paying for both the Iraq war and his major tax cuts by cutting or reducing health care for America’s poor and elderly. We are all cognizant of the fact that there is a huge unfunded obligation that currently exists in these budget areas, but this plan does nothing to address the underlying causes of the problems currently faced by Medicare and Medicaid.

As a hospital administrator, it is clear to me that these costs will simply be transferred to our already overburdened emergency rooms and our uncompensated care. Finally, it is also clear that these cuts will represent a major problem for our teaching hospitals as well. My personal reaction to these proposed changes is that they will simply accelerate our journey toward the necessity for a complete remake of our United States healthcare system.

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