On January 12, the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians sent the following opinion/editorial on health care reform to the statewide press:
“As Congress contemplates health care reforms, any health care strategy in the United States should have at its core access to affordable, high quality, and efficient health care for all Americans. Potential changes to current law must be patient-centered, focus on enhancing and improving our health care system for all Americans, and acknowledge the important role of primary care and family physicians in our health care system.
Family physicians are on the frontline providing care every day to Ohio’s men, women, and children in communities large and small, rural and urban, and wealthy and poor. Today, one in five physician office visits takes place with a family physician. Family physicians are patient advocates—they are the physicians that individuals and their families turn to when they are sick and when they are in need of guidance on life’s most complicated and challenging decisions. They are, without question, the foundation of our health care system.
- Currently insured individuals should not lose public or private health insurance. Whether covered through the individual, small group, and employer markets or through Medicaid, currently insured individuals should not have their coverage and insurance protections yanked out from underneath them. Nearly 1 Million Ohioans stand to lose health coverage if the current law is repealed.
- Under current law, individuals and families benefit from protections against discrimination in all health insurance marketplaces and in other insurance products. These patient-centered protections must be maintained and are an important part of increasing access to quality affordable health insurance for individuals, regardless of their age, race, gender, or medical history. Denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions has no place in our health care system.
- Individuals and families should not lose Medicaid coverage. In a recent report released by the Kasich Administration, Ohioans who became eligible for health care coverage through Medicaid expansion reported that it was easier for them to keep or find work, and most reported better health and financial security as a result of obtaining coverage. Another report released by Harvard Medical School and New York University predicts that 220,000 Ohioans may be unable to afford care for mental illness or drug addiction if current law is scrapped with no suitable replacement. In addition, the functions of Medicaid should be universal, meaning regardless of one’s state of residency, individuals enrolled in Medicaid must be guaranteed health care coverage that is equitable to coverage in any of the other states.
- Primary care is and must remain a critical and foundational component of any health care system.
Every day family physicians witness the importance of individuals and families having health insurance coverage. They see the value of those patient-centered protections that ensure each individual is able to obtain health care coverage regardless of their gender, health history, or socioeconomic status. It is imperative that we have state and national health policies that ensure all Ohioans can sustain a continuous relationship with their primary care physicians. Legislation and regulations must ensure all Ohioans can get needed health care in a timely, efficient, affordable, and personalized manner.
Our health care system is not perfect and there are areas that require additional reform. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to advocate for improvements to our current health system that will benefit citizens of our state. Ohio’s family physicians are committed to engaging in the process to strengthen our health care system so that care is accessible and affordable for all individuals and families in Ohio.”
Ryan D. Kauffman, MD, FAAFP
Family Physician, Bellefontaine, OH
President, Ohio Academy of Family Physicians