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North American Spine Society Expresses Concern Over Proposed Federal Health Care Reform Legislation

'Several provisions will put patient access to care at risk'

BURR RIDGE, Ill., July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- As debate continues on proposed health care reform legislation, the "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009" (H.R. 3200), the North American Spine Society (NASS) today, in a letter to House leaders signed by NASS President Charles Branch, M.D. and NASS Advocacy Committee Chairman Raj Rao, M.D., expressed concerns that elements within the overall package will fail to control costs, fail to improve quality and fail to improve access to care.

"As patient and physician advocates, NASS acknowledges legislative efforts to improve the health care offered to our citizens through the introduction of H.R. 3200. We are concerned, however, that several elements within the overall package will fail to achieve the primary intent of the bill," said Branch, a neurosurgeon at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

NASS's primary concern is that H.R. 3200 does not do enough to control costs, improve quality of care, or increase access to care for patients. NASS is also concerned with the adoption of a public plan option that does not address impending primary and specialty care workforce shortages or clearly reduce costs over the long term.

NASS is equally troubled by the proposed creation of a Health Benefits Advisory Committee or Independent Medicare Advisory Council with little to no physician input or oversight. Any such advisory body making decisions that intrude into the physician-patient relationship "must include abundant representation by physicians actively involved in patient care," wrote Branch and Rao. NASS is concerned with any proposal that would give extensive powers to this type of body with little oversight or accountability.

Notably, NASS also believes the addition of provisions to address medical liability reform is necessary for any serious comprehensive health care reform efforts. "The lack of medical liability reform adds billions to the nation's health care costs through widespread and deep defensive medicine practices. Any serious effort at comprehensive health care reform must include medical liability reform," said Rao, a spine surgeon at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "Containment of health care costs and improvement in quality of care in our health care system will continue to be threatened without such reform."

The entire text of the NASS response to H.R. 3200 can be found at

The North American Spine Society (NASS) is a multidisciplinary medical organization dedicated to fostering the highest quality, evidence-based, and ethical spine care by promoting education, research, and advocacy. NASS is comprised of more than 5,500 members from several disciplines including orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, physiatry, neurology, radiology, anesthesiology, research, physical therapy and other spine care professionals.

SOURCE North American Spine Society
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