Deep Bench: ACP makes call to action for reform of current health care system

FILE PHOTO / Source: Canva
FILE PHOTO / Source: Canva(WVLT)
Published: Jan. 21, 2020 at 5:41 PM CST
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The American College of Physicians recently issued a bold call to action, challenging the United States to implement systematic reforms of our health care system. But what does a better health care system look like?

On the Deep Bench Tuesday to discuss was the President of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Robert McLean and ACP's Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Public Policy, Bob Doherty.

Dr. McLean said the big issues with the current system come down to affordability and accessibility.

"Our patients don't have enough of either. As a practicing doctor in Connecticut, I see patients every week who really have cries of woe about their inability to afford co-pays for prescription drugs, high deductibles for tests, even for office visits. So we know that our patients, even if they're insured, have a tremendous financial burden with our current system," said Dr. McLean.

Doherty added that in Wisconsin, 70% of adults have no usual source of care, such as a primary care physician.

"We know if you don't have a primary care doctor, you're going to have poor outcomes and higher cost of care," Doherty said.

He said ACP is proposing ways to ensure that everybody has access to a physician, access to coverage and the kind of care they need. The organization did evidence-based studies on health care systems in individual states and other countries that have tried to address many of those issues, and based on the evaluation, ACP came up with on how to get there.

"Specifically we're recommending the United States adopt either a public plan for everyone, often called medicare for all, or single payer or at least giving people the option of enrolling in a publicly-financed plan, or they could keep their insurance if it covered comparable benefits.We're also calling for eliminating deductibles and co-payments for high-value services like primary care and eliminating high deductibles for patients with certain chronic diseases, and we have a series of recommendations that control the cost of care," Doherty explained.

He added that the current politics are too tough and that we're too divided as a country to have a better health care system.

"Health care is not a commodity that should be treated like other commodities. I think people increasingly recognize that. We want to make sure that people voice that to their elected officials and legislators. I think we need to demand much better, because we know that better is possible," concluded McLean.

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The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 159,000 internal medicine physicians, related sub-specialists and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness.

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