June 16, 2009 - President Barack Obama asked for physicians to help in his plans for healthcare reform during the American Medical Association's 158th annual meeting Monday in Chicago. "I need your help, doctors. To most Americans, you are the healthcare system," Obama told physicians at the meeting. "I will listen to you and work with you to pursue reform that works for you… You did not enter this profession to be bean-counters and paper-pushers. You entered this profession to be healers – and that's what our healthcare system should let you be.” American College of Cardiology CEO Jack Lewin, M.D said he was encouraged by Obama’s comments and in conversations he had with colleagues. “We all agree that we must reform our very troubled health care system. The nation is poised to take on this tough issue now,” Dr. Lewin said. “If President Obama, Congress and healthcare reform advocates are serious, they should be willing to put all of the options on the table, and remember that payment reform and access are parallel issues. In order to address the problem of increasing costs, we must restructure the flawed payment system.” He said the ACC has proposed a payment reform option through the development of a voluntary, multispecialty, quality-based physician network that is organized around participation in CMS-approved clinical registries. Under this proposal, physicians would be paid by a combination of budget neutral fee-for-service and virtual bundled bonus payments that rewards effective practice and improved patient outcomes. “What really matters is how we can drive down costs for our patients and for our country, while ensuring patients have quality care,” Dr. Lewin said. “One of the ways we do that is by looking at the way doctors are compensated and reforming the system so that it’s based on the quality of care provided – not the quantity.” The AMA said it is also committed to health reform this year that provides all Americans with affordable, high-quality health coverage, said AMA President Nancy H. Nielsen, M.D. "We have a historic opportunity for reform this year, and the AMA is actively working for health reform that covers the uninsured, makes insurance more affordable, increases the value our nation receives from its health-care spending and enhances prevention and wellness for patients," Dr. Nielsen said. "The relationship between a patient and physician is the heart of health care, and we support reforms that preserve that relationship and keep medical decisions in the hands of patients and physicians." Obama said it will be hard to make some of these changes if doctors feel like they are constantly looking over their shoulder for fear of lawsuits. He acknowledged the cost of defensive medicine in the health system. "We are very pleased that President Obama has expressed an openness to medical liability reform as part of comprehensive health reform," said Dr. Nielsen. "Liability reform is clearly needed to help doctors implement best-practices in patient care and reduce unnecessary health costs." For a transcript of President Obama's prepared remarks visit www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/our-people/house-delegates/2009-annu… For more information: www.ama-assn.org, www.acc.org

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