President Barack H. Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) into law March 23, 2010. After months of debate and negotiation, the bill was passed by the House on March 21 by a vote of 219 to 212. Health care organizations, including the Association of American Colleges (AAMC), have responded positively to the bill, although there is already discussion of more work ahead. AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, stated passage of the bill is “the first step towards truly transforming health care in this country.” Dr. Kirch added, “The months ahead will bring both opportunities and challenges for additional adjustments to the ‘work in progress’ of health care reform.”
The American College of Physicians (ACP) also applauded passage of the bill. ACP President Joseph W. Stubbs, MD, stated “this is a historic time,” and the legislation includes “important first steps to begin to reverse a catastrophic shortage of primary care physicians.” However, Dr. Stubbs believes “more will need to be done to ensure that patients will have timely access to care by an internist or other primary care physician of their choice.”
The American Medical Association (AMA) noted the “president’s signature on historic health reform legislation today is a monumental moment in the health of our nation.” AMA President J. James Rohack, MD, promised that the organization will “remain actively engaged to ensure that before Congress adjourns there are additional important changes to our health system that couldn’t be addressed in the reconciliation process, including repeal of the Medicare physician payment formula… and changes to the Independent Payment Advisory Board.”
President of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Cheryl Phillips, MD, stated "The reform legislation the House has approved is good for current and future geriatrics healthcare professionals and good for the older adults they do and will care for." Dr. Phillips also added "The legislation includes many geriatrics-friendly provisions for which the AGS has long advocated. These provisions will address important payment and related issues to make careers in geriatrics and other primary care fields more attractive; expand training for geriatrics professionals and direct care workers; and enhance the quality and cost effectiveness of care, thereby making the Medicare program more sustainable."
Similar statements of support followed by a promise for continued action for some of the important elements missing in the current health care reform bill were posted by the American College of Cardiology, American Society of Hematology, and American Hospital Association. The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) does not support the health care reform bill, as it does not align with MGMA’s health care reform principles.
The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine will report on key aspects of the health care reform legislation pertinent to the academic internal medicine community once the package of additional changes currently under discussion are voted on.