California Medical Association Responds to United States Supreme Court Ruling
Decision to Uphold Affordable Care Act Results in Mixed Reaction From Physician Community
Sacramento — Today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court draws a mixed reaction from the California Medical Association (CMA), the organization that represents over 35,000 physicians in all modes of practice throughout the state.
“From the beginning, we have both agreed and disagreed with portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” said James T. Hay, MD, CMA president. “CMA vigorously supported the individual mandate to ensure universal insurance coverage for the millions of uninsured Californians and the reforms on the for-profit insurance industry, and we are pleased that those reforms were upheld. However, there are serious flaws in the ACA that do not address the underlying problems of patient access to physicians that need to be addressed by Congress and the president immediately.”
Throughout the healthcare reform debate, CMA has strongly advocated for affordable access to care for California’s uninsured and for expansion of health insurance coverage. The physician organization has also supported eliminating egregious health plan rescission practices, pre-existing condition bans, and ending excessive insurer profit and administrative costs. CMA was also instrumental in arguing for state based health insurance exchanges, rather than one national exchange of private health plan choices and urged reinvestments in primary care, public health and the physician workforce.
While the ACA provides insurance coverage for millions of previously uninsured Californians, it does not guarantee that these newly insured patients will have access to doctors because the Medicare and Medicaid programs were left grossly underfunded. CMA was also strongly opposed to the ACA’s creation of an unaccountable Independent Medicare Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which will mandate arbitrary spending cuts, force more physicians out of the program, and limit seniors’ treatment options.
“Expanding coverage to more Californians, putting an end to insurance industry abuses, and support for primary care are essential for our patients and the future of medicine,” added Dr. Hay. “Despite these wins, the ACA builds reform on the broken foundations of Medicare and Medicaid without addressing the underlying problems and inadequate funding. CMA will continue to work to fix those ills.”
CMA will continue to fight to repeal the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment system, which is slated to slash physician reimbursement by 32 percent next year and harm seniors access to care. Additionally, as nearly 3 million new uninsured Californians enter the Medi-Cal program under the ACA, CMA will continue the fight in Congress and the state Legislature to increase the dismally low Medi-Cal payment rates so that more physicians can afford to care for these patients. Recent reports have found that 50 percent of Medi-Cal patients have difficulty finding a physician.
“There is an enormous amount of work yet to be done,” said Dr. Hay. “We’ll be active in helping to implement the State Health Benefit Exchange as a fair marketplace of appropriate plan options and we will continue to help our patients take advantage of the coverage expansions offered as part of the ACA.”