American Society of Anesthesiologists ASA President Barack Obama health care reform
January 29, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), I write to congratulate you and extend all good wishes as you begin your presidency. These are indeed historic times, and ASA offers its full assistance to you and your Administration as you address the critical issues facing America, particularly the need for health care system reform.
Founded in 1905, ASA is an educational, research and scientific association with 43,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology, and to improve the care of patients. In addition to working in the operating room, anesthesiologists often deliver critical medical care to patients in hospital intensive care units, and treat patients in emergency rooms, diagnostic facilities and pain clinics.
Quite literally and figuratively, anesthesiologists are physicians providing the lifeline of modern medicine. They personally provide or medically direct 90 percent of all anesthetics administered in the United States.
As highly trained physicians, anesthesiologists are uniquely qualified to make medical judgments and oversee the broad practice of anesthesiology. Their medical expertise - unparalleled and irreplaceable by non-physician providers - provides the leadership and skilled care patients need when they are most vulnerable.
Indeed, in the past decade, the Institute of Medicine has singled-out anesthesiologists alone as the leaders in quality and patient safety. And today, our efforts to advance quality and ensure patient safety continue unabated as we begin further outcomes measurement through our new Anesthesia Quality Institute, Inc., a clinical data registry. This institute is expected to generate groundbreaking work in the areas of patient safety and quality.
At present, we are working diligently with leaders on Capitol Hill to support important health information technology provisions in the pending economic stimulus package. These much-needed provisions would ensure the appropriate development of HIT standards by 2010, thus allowing for nationwide electronic exchange and use of information. We understand that the HITECH Act would save the government approximately $10 billion through improvements in quality of care and care coordination, while also reducing medical errors. We applaud your vision for moving HIT forward now and look for the early enactment of this measure through the economic stimulus bill.
In the months ahead, ASA will also work hard to advance health care “truth and transparency” and rural access bills to ensure that our patients have both the information and medical services necessary to better their health. While the path ahead will undoubtedly bring challenges as we strive toward a responsible overhaul of the health care system, working together, we can ensure that those challenges become opportunities for improvement as we seek to positively change health care for all of America’s patients.
Specifically, we look forward to working with you and your new Administration on health care system reform that:
- Establishes a pluralistic system building on the best features of public and private coverage, administration and financing, ensuring access to health insurance for all;
- Recognizes and values the leadership role of physicians as champions of high quality, cost efficient patient care based on their advanced education, skills and experience; and
- Promotes and further supports efforts to improve quality, specifically research that improves patient safety and clinical outcomes.
Mr. President, ASA appreciates your commitment to the patients, physicians and health care of America.
Roger A. Moore, M.D.