Remarks of Alexander A. Hannenberg, M.D., ASA President, on Final Enactment of Health Reform Package and ASA Response
(April 5, 2010)
The President’s signing on March 30 of H.R. 4872, the “Health Care
and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010,” also known as
the “Reconciliation” piece of the health reform package, has ended the
first phase of Obama Administration and Congressional efforts to reform
health care in the United States. With the signing of H.R. 4872 and
the earlier enactment of H.R. 3950, the “Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act (PPACA),” health reform as we know it is now law.
ASA is responding accordingly.
At my direction, our Washington, D.C.,
office undertook and recently completed a preliminary review of H.R.
4872 and 3590. The resulting “ASA Post-Reform Key Issues ‘Watch’ List”
catalogues key provisions of the new law that will require continued
scrutiny, action and involvement by ASA and others in the medical
community. The document will also serve as a starting point in ASA’s
effort to respond legislatively to various onerous provisions of the
law. Indeed, ASA has already begun outreach to key Members of Congress
to begin discussions regarding changes to specific provisions of the
bill. And opponents of the bill have already mobilized with proposals
for changes to the law as well. Perhaps not surprisingly, even many of
health system reform’s strongest supporters recognize the package
enacted is far from perfect. As an example, Congressman Pete Stark
(D-CA), Chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the powerful Ways and
Means Committee, has already announced his intentions to try to change
provisions related to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
While those changes do not go far enough in our view, Rep. Stark’s
statement represents an important affirmation that while the reform
bills are law, the legislating associated with reform is far from over.
I can also report that our D.C. team has begun
to collect information regarding the process related to the regulatory
or rulemaking process that will accompany the implementation of this
new law over the next several years. Most of the provisions of the
reform law will require the Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or other
federal agencies to write rules to assure appropriate implementation of
the law’s provision or new programs. In fact, many observers believe
that the rulemaking process necessary to implement this new law could
be one of the most significant, longest and complicated regulatory
undertakings in recent history. This massive process offers both risks
and opportunities for our specialty. Much work will need to be done
on this area and we are preparing to meet the challenge.
Finally, let me also report that I continue to
hear from many ASA members ready to act in response to the new law. I
am extraordinarily gratified that so many ASA members have embraced
this time of great anxiety and concern as a personal “Call to Action.”
The help of all ASA members will be required in this effort. I
anticipate many legislative attempts to repeal or revise some or all of
this law. I also anticipate a need for our members to respond to the
massive rule making process through the formal public comment
opportunities. Our voices will need to be heard. Our specialty must
continue to be engaged in assuring positive outcomes both on the
legislative and regulatory fronts. As we demonstrated with our
leadership in the medical community in opposing and stopping the
proliferation of Medicare payment rates to other payers, our voices can
and do make a difference. Our overarching goal is to ensure that
remedies to the shortcomings of American health care strengthen, not
threaten, the medical specialty of anesthesiology.
Please continue to monitor the ASA website and
your email for additional information about the implementation of this
legislation and future ASA “Calls to Action.”
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.
For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. Join the ANESTHESIOLOGYTM 2014 social conversation today. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter and use the hashtag #ANES2014.