UNIVERSAL COVERAGE: Seven MD Groups Issue Challenge
The nation's seven largest physician groups Monday announced a grassroots effort to challenge Congress and 2000 presidential candidates to make universal health care coverage their top election priority. "Our goal is to have every congressional and presidential candidate promise to create or support a plan to solve the problem of the uninsured within his or her first year of taking office," said Dr. Whitney Addington, president of the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine. The seven groups -- the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine and American College of Surgeons -- vowed to ensure that all Americans have health care coverage, that policies include quality benefit packages and that medical necessity decisions "reflect generally accepted standards of medical practice." In a statement delivered to congressional members and presidential contenders, the groups also singled out the importance of "pluralism of health care delivery systems and financing mechanisms in achieving universal coverage and access to health care services" (Physicians Work Group on Universal Coverage release, 5/14). Addington, who chairs the work group that drafted the statement, said the board is hoping to spend $1 million to promote its campaign (CongressDaily/A.M., 6/15).
The physicians' campaign quickly earned the praise of several groups already calling for universal coverage. Dr. Henry Simmmons, president of the National Coalition on Health Care, said his organization was "heartened" that the physician groups have taken on the task, as his group last month released a study that "projects as many as 61.4 million non-elderly Americans -- up from 43 million today -- could be without health coverage in 10 years" (release, 6/14). The Council for Affordable Health Insurance yesterday launched the Health Insurance Safety Net Coalition, a broad-based network of organizations that will work to educate policymakers, consumers and the media about the importance of finding affordable solutions for individuals who cannot get health insurance due to their health status or the high cost of coverage. CAHI President David Lack said, "The central principle of the Health Insurance Safety Net Coalition is that guaranteed access programs are the most promising mechanism for ensuring that all individuals will be able to obtain affordable health insurance coverage." He added that the coalition "advocates a funding mechanism that is very broad, including public funding and participation by every insurance carrier doing business in a state" (CAHI release, 6/3).