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July 2009
Vol. 19 No. 7
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From the President: IDSA’s Role in Health Care Reform

As the health care reform debate continues, IDSA is actively monitoring developments and legislative proposals on Capitol Hill and working to ensure that ID and HIV/AIDS priorities are addressed. We support the two primary goals of reform: making affordable health coverage available to all Americans and slowing the unsustainable rise in health care costs.

Our focus has been on issues that affect the fields of infectious diseases, our members, and their patients, and we have worked to make the most effective use of IDSA’s and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA)’s most valuable resource—the knowledge and expertise of our members.

Specifically, through letters to members of Congress, congressional testimony, media outreach, and partnerships with related organizations, we have:

  • Focused on the importance of evidence-based prevention and wellness. IDSA supports increasing national investments in prevention and public health. We have also called for all insurance plans, public and private, to cover a wide variety of preventive services, including routine HIV testing and access to all federally recommended immunizations for adults, adolescents, and children.
  • Tried to ensure that changes in Medicare and Medicaid encourage clinicians to provide high-quality and efficient care instead of simply more care, such as through financial support for the medical home model used by many HIV programs. We have also tried to make sure that these new approaches do not unfairly penalize ID specialists, whether in the public or private sector (see related article).
  • Supported a permanent fix to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)’s reimbursement system and the Sustainable Growth Rate. Physicians will continue to face steep reimbursement cuts until a permanent fix is made.
  • Endorsed HIVMA’s support for a public plan option for health insurance coverage. A public plan option would ensure affordable access to comprehensive care for HIV patients—nearly 30 percent of whom have no insurance today. HIVMA is particularly concerned that private insurers will discourage HIV patients from enrolling in private plans by excluding HIV clinicians and programs.
  • Highlighted the need to ensure an adequate and well-trained HIV medical workforce. Efforts directed at the primary care workforce, including loan forgiveness and financial support for training, also should be offered to HIV clinicians to help address a serious crisis in HIV care capacity.

In addition to these issues, we have called on lawmakers to incorporate other ID priorities into health reform. This includes improving access to antimicrobial home infusion therapy by eliminating gaps in Medicare coverage, moving coverage of all vaccines under Medicare from Part D to Part B, strengthening the federal approach to dealing with drug-resistant pathogens, and requiring national reporting of healthcare-associated infections.

You can download a one-page summary of IDSA’s priorities. This page on IDSA’s website includes more details about our advocacy on health care reform. You can also check IDSA’s homepage, under “New at IDSA,” for more timely updates.

It’s not yet clear how the current debate in Washington will end. But as the process unfolds, we will continue to track developments and offer policymakers feedback, always mindful of what matters most to the ID specialty, IDSA members, and their patients.
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