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27-06-2012 | Article

Professional medical groups weigh in on Supreme Court decision

MedWire News: Hot on the heels of the US Supreme Court decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, professional medical associations weighed in on the ruling and what it will mean for clinicians, patients, and insurers.

The American Medical Association (AMA), which had staunchly opposed earlier healthcare reform efforts, including Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s, issued a statement strongly supporting the Supreme Court's rulings.

"This decision protects important improvements, such as ending coverage denials due to pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on insurance, and allowing the 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 who gained coverage under the law to stay on their parents' health insurance policies," said AMA president Jeremy Lazarus in a statement.

"The expanded healthcare coverage upheld by the Supreme Court will allow patients to see their doctors earlier rather than waiting for treatment until they are sicker and care is more expensive. The decision upholds funding for important research on the effectiveness of drugs and treatments and protects expanded coverage for prevention and wellness care, which has already benefited about 54 million Americans," Lazarus said.

Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association, noted that "by upholding the law, the nation's highest court has sent a clear message that patients should be the first priority in an ever-changing healthcare arena. The court's action in support of the ACA helps remind us what's really important - enabling all Americans to obtain affordable, quality healthcare. We can now build on the significant advances already achieved under the act and truly transform our healthcare system."

The American Academy of Family Physicians president Glenn Stream praised in particular the court's decision to uphold the individual mandate.

"Broad, individual responsibility for healthcare is the foundation for successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act's patient protections," he said in a statement. "Economic realities dictate that ensuring coverage for all Americans depends on participation of all Americans."

In Massachusetts, where a similar law was enacted by then Governor Mitt Romney in 2006, the ruling is seen as vindicating the concept of joint individual and societal responsibility for healthcare.

"Physicians in Massachusetts have been strong supporters of our state health reform movement from the beginning. Universal coverage has been better for our patients, and it's been better for the practice of medicine. When people have insurance, they are more likely to get the care they need, when they need it," said Massachusetts Medical Society President Richard Aghababian.

"They are also more likely to discuss preventive care measures with their doctor… and that may lead to longer and healthier lives. And when the public's health is good, society is more productive, the economy is vibrant, and the social fabric of the community is as strong as it can be."

Romney, now the presumptive nominee for the presidential ticket of the Republican Party, vowed if elected to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on his first day in office.

Full statements

http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/news/news/2012-06-28-supreme-court-health-care-reform-decision.page

http://newsroom.heart.org/pr/aha/patients-are-the-victors-in-affordable-235918.aspx

http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/publications/news/news-now/government-medicine/20120628supremecourtruling.html

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/06/massachusetts_medical_society_2.html

By Neil Osterweil