MMS Statement Regarding America’s Health Care System

Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, released the following statement:

“It is now clear that health care for our nation is in dire jeopardy.

“Every attempt at repeal of the Affordable Care Act this year would have replaced the law with a system that would have stripped health care coverage from millions of Americans, increased overall health care costs, and left many of our most vulnerable neighbors, friends, and family members at increased risk of becoming sicker. The goal of any health care legislation should be to improve the health and well-being of our neighbors – not to harm them through ill-conceived, impetuous action.

“With attempts at repeal ultimately proving unsuccessful, the Administration has instead turned its attention to actions that will dismantle and derail the systems and the protections afforded by the ACA. This puts at risk the tens of millions of Americans who currently have health care coverage through the ACA exchanges or through Medicaid expansion. It also impacts those Americans with other sources of insurance coverage, because when part of our health care system is torn apart, the rest of the system feels the effects.

“Despite the countless lives that are dependent upon the ACA, the Administration is clearly doing everything that it can to undermine this health care law. This is the wrong approach.

“The recent announcement regarding the end of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies to insurers is a signal that the Administration will do what it takes to make the infrastructure of the ACA crumble, regardless of any vote in Congress. Ending CSR subsidies would disproportionately impact the working-class families who rely on the subsidies to afford their needed health care coverage, and it will throw the system on which all of us depend – a system that took years to build – into upheaval. Perhaps it is no coincidence that this announcement came on the heels of an executive order allowing alternative, low-quality health plans with fewer benefits and less government protections.

“That’s not all. The Administration, through an act of rule-making from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is working to make it easier for employers to refuse to cover essential provisions of women’s health care – critical health care services that should not be singled out as less worthy than other services. In addition, HHS has undermined the ACA’s annual open enrollment period; we can expect that this will cause many of our patients to inadvertently miss their opportunity to sign up for coverage in 2018, leaving them without any health insurance at all. This would be tragic and unacceptable.

“We are returning to the days of uninsured patients unable to access care until it is too late. This has the dual result of overloading our emergency rooms with patients late in the course of disease, sometimes beyond the point where they can survive, and moreover at a considerable increase in total health care costs. If our Federal government is truly the steward for our society, this new action fails the people.

“At the same time that Congress and the Administration have taken actions that are detrimental to the interests of the patients for whom we, as physicians, provide care, they have overlooked opportunities to continue programs that expand access and control costs.

“The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides funding for more than 180,000 children in Massachusetts to receive reliable health coverage, expired on September 30. On the same day, funding for American’s community health centers – essential safety nets that provide care for millions of Americans, including nearly one million patients in the Commonwealth – also expired without reauthorization.

“The damage done to our patients is inexcusable and, quite honestly, goes against the tenets of the Hippocratic oath we all took. As a physician, I and my colleagues have dedicated our lives and careers to children and adolescents with chronic and critical respiratory conditions. I knew a time in which adulthood was out of reach for these children, and I know that with needed treatment and care, this is no longer the case.  We cannot go back.

“Let’s be clear: This is an attack on the very foundation of access to health care for everyone in this country. We will all, regardless of where we get our health coverage, potentially face a dramatic increase in costs, reduction in the sufficiency of coverage, and for too many, complete loss of access to insurance and care. Without question, it is the vulnerable among us who will suffer the most.

“I, and my fellow members of the Massachusetts Medical Society, will continue to fight for the life-saving access to care that all of our patients need. They deserve better and we are determined to get it for them.”


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