SEP 2012

EyeWorld is the official news magazine of the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

Issue link: https://digital.eyeworld.org/i/82503

Contents of this Issue


Page 35 of 103

36 EW NEWS & OPINION September 2012 Fly-In focus: Urge Congress to pass meaningful medical liability reform by Marc Michelson, M.D., ASCRS Government Relations Committee member provides weekly details of the ongoing legislative and regulatory healthcare issues germane to our membership. ASCRS is a member of the H aving served on the Government Relations Committee of ASCRS for many years, I have had numerous opportunities to lobby members of Congress in support of the preservation of the patient/physician relationship in our country. A progressive intrusion by the government into the business practices of the American physician has been occurring over the past decade, culminating with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The traditional physician/patient relationship is under threat. The political process in this arena is extremely complex, but our society must remain unflappable with our message to the public and Congress. We must maintain our ability to de- liver the highest standard of care to our patients; however, we must also remain engaged in the political process. The Washington Watch Weekly report published by ASCRS Alliance of Specialty Medicine. With 13 specialties and subspecialties, the lobbyists of each organization speak with "one voice" on key healthcare issues facing our members. These include the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American Gastroenterological Association, American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery, American Urolog- ical Association, American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, American Society of Echocardiography, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Heart Rhythm Society, National Association of Spine Specialists, Society for Excellence in Eyecare, and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. An annual Fly-In is conducted every July where members of each organization converge in Washing- ton, D.C., to address our concerns with our legislators. I first attended the Fly-In in July 2009 when Congress began the debate on the current healthcare legislation. I attended this year's Fly-In with renewed vigor and met with our legislators to address the challenges facing specialty physicians following the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The House of Representatives re- cently passed H.R. 5, Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Health- care (HEALTH) Act, which combined legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) with meaningful liability reform. With the looming cuts in Medicare fees, the Alliance of Specialty Medicine also sought Congressional support in the Senate to repeal IPAB and reform the current medical liability system. Limiting defensive medicine could potentially save $57 billion over the next 10 years. This message was delivered to each congressional and senate office we visited. Because the healthcare debate continues to remain front and center, each senate and congressional staffer that we met with seemed to have a keen interest in our message. We urged Congress to pass meaningful medical liability reform that reduces growth in healthcare costs, preserves access to specialty care, and encourages physician engagement in meaningful quality improvement activities. While thanking the House for passing H.R. 5, we also lobbied the Senate to pass the HEALTH Act (S. 1099) to limit the financial burden of practicing defensive medicine. The Alliance urged Congress to support the Provider Shield Act of 2011 (H.R. 816) to shield physicians from new liability exposures as a result of participation in quality improve- ment programs. These quality improvement efforts, such as the physician value-based payment modifier, should not be interpreted as standards of care for purposes of malpractice cases. Meaningful medical liability Tell Congress to support Medicare choice Urge your lawmakers to support the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act (H.R. 1700/S.1042). This legislation would allow patients to use their Medicare coverage to help cover the cost of seeing any physician, even those who do not accept Medicare. TAKE ACTION Visit ama-assn.org/go/privatecontracting to access resources for physicians and patients, and to get involved in grassroots activities. Sign our online petition at MyMedicare-MyChoice.org and encourage your patients to do so, too. reform should also provide rapid claim resolution, fully compensate patients for medical/economic dam- ages while placing a reasonable cap on noneconomic damages, maxi- mize patient awards and discourage frivolous lawsuits through sliding scale contingency fees, eliminate double recovery by accounting for evidence of collateral source benefits paid, and award punitive damages when there is clear and convincing evidence of malicious intent to injure or deliberate failure to avoid unnecessary injury. Punitive damages should not be awarded for products that comply with FDA standards. This year's meeting was very successful with the largest represen- tation from ophthalmology. I encourage those who have not engaged in the political process to become more involved. We have the attention of our legislators, now we need all of your support. EW Editors' note: Dr. Michelson is medical director, Alabama Eye & Cataract Center, Birmingham, Ala. Contact information Michelson: MMichael325@aol.com AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CATARACT AND REFRACTIVE SURGERY

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Eyeworld - SEP 2012