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Democrats Set Ambitious Goal for Health Care Reform

Physicians can take lead to get much-needed federal legislation passed

THURSDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Congressional Democrats face formidable challenges in their efforts to pass health care reform legislation by July 31, but physicians can take the lead to ensure changes are enacted, according to two perspectives published online May 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

NEJM correspondent, John K. Iglehart, writes that the House and Senate have set July 31 as their target. Increasing the need for reform is the fact that Medicare's trust fund is projected to run dry by 2017. Congressional committees have proposed tighter regulation of the private insurance market, creation of a national health insurance exchange, and expansion of Medicaid. However, in the House, some Democratic chairmen have been secretive about their proposals and are sure to face serious opposition from Republicans for adding to the federal deficit.

Elliott S. Fisher, M.D., of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues write that physicians can lead the way in making health care reform a reality. They say that physicians should first acknowledge that delivery-system reform is a potential win-win and help develop integrated systems of care. Secondly, physicians should recognize that achieving the savings needed to cover the cost of expanded coverage would not be a hardship for providers or patients. Thirdly, they should link the proposed 1.5-percentage-point savings to health insurance for everyone and reform of payment and delivery systems.

"Physicians can become our most credible and effective leaders of progress toward a new world of coordinated, sensible, outcome-oriented care in which they and their communities will be far better off," Fisher and colleagues write.

Fisher reported receiving grant support and fees from health insurance and other health care organizations.

Full Text - Iglehart
Full Text - Fisher

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