Lawmakers, physician groups vow to fight for physician payment reform

Both lawmakers agreed the only way to control costs is to give healthcare consumers incentives to choose the care that meets their needs.

“We will never control the cost of healthcare,” Coburn said, “until we have a reconnection of the discriminating consumer.”

Physician leaders vowed to work together to press for changes to the delivery system.

John Tooker, associate executive vice president of the American College of Physicians, said it was important going forward to make it clear that the debate “isn’t about getting more money for doctors, this is really about improving the way healthcare is delivered to patients.”

“The leadership of the major organizations in organized medicine will be necessary to make this happen,” Tooker said. “Ultimately, though, I think (changes to delivery reform) will require building a coalition that will include other key stakeholders … including consumers, employers, insurers.”

The physicians added that political leaders also had a responsibility to leave rhetoric aside and work together to change the system.

Ralph Brindis, president of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), pointed out, for example, that Coburn and Medicare administrator Donald Berwick seem to have similar views on paying for quality, but Berwick has been vilified by Republicans as a proponent of rationing.

“A lot of people see the problems similarly and have opportunities where they could work better together to solve them as opposed to worry about who’s getting all the credit,” Brindis said. “We can all get the credit together.”

Jack Lewin, chief executive officer of the ACC, said flatly that health reform “ain’t going to get repealed.” But physicians, the media and lawmakers need to work together to change the way care is paid for and delivered.

“Our fear,” Lewin said, “is that we have more gridlock and that would be very unfortunate.”

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