The ACP Advocate Blog
by Bob Doherty
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
What does Obama’s speech to the governors, professional ethics in Wisconsin, and consumer health education have in common?
They are examples of how the American College of Physicians has taken leadership roles in influencing health policy to the betterment of patients and their physicians.
Within the last 48 hours, ACP has:
- Reminded physicians that professional ethics does not allow for them to sign off on false “sick notes” to excuse patients to engage in political advocacy or other purposes. ACP referenced reports from Wisconsin that physicians have been signing off on false sick notes to excuse public employees so that they could participate in the demonstrations, and emphasized that there is “universal ethics principle” at stake. “Honesty is a core professional obligation and lying, even for a patient, is a breach of that obligation," J. Fred Ralston Jr., MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians (ACP) reminded all physicians, including the organization's 130,000 internal medicine physician and medical student members. (ACP has not taken any position on the Wisconsin dispute over collective bargaining by public employees.) In the same spirit, I also encourage you to read DB’s Medical Rants posting on the same.
- Applauded President Obama for supporting a bipartisan bill, the Empowering States to Innovate Act, to give states more flexibility, earlier than now allowed by the Affordable Care Act, to design their own programs to cover their residents. The bill, introduced by Senators Scott Brown (R-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Mary Landrieu (D- LA), would advance by three years a provision in the ACA to exempt states from many of the ACA’s mandates if they can come up with their own programs to provide comparable levels of coverage to as many people without adding to the deficit. ACP’s statement noted that President Obama was embracing an idea advocated by ACP in its January 27 State of the Nation’s Health Care report. I first blogged about the Empowering Patients to Innovate bill back in November of 2010, when I referenced Ezra Klein’s blog post that argued that the proposal could point the way forward to bipartisan agreement on health reform by allowing states to “compete and succeed” rather than “repeal and replace.” It is good to see President Obama get on board with the idea, but will any Republicans (other than Senator Brown) take him up on it???
- Joined with a coalition of respected health organizations to announce the launch of a new website, www.healthcareandyou.org, to educate consumers about the Affordable Care Act and how it could affect them. The website explains that “the Health Care and You Coalition is made up of some of our country’s leading organizations that represent consumers, patients, physicians, nurses, hospitals and pharmacists. Our goal is to provide the public with easy-to-understand information about the health care law. HealthCareandYou.org is a place where individuals, families, small business owners and health care professionals can turn for help in understanding the law and how it impacts them.” In addition to ACP, the coalition partners are the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, Catholic Health Association, National Community Pharmacists Association, the Cancer Action Network-American Cancer Society, and AARP. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll shows how much confusion there continues to be about the law and why truthful and understandable information from trusted sources—the goal of the Health Care and You coalition—is critically important. The poll showed that one out of five Americans believe incorrectly that the Affordable Care Act and has been repealed and another 26% aren’t sure.
Advocacy for universal ethics principles that places honesty above all else, including lying on behalf of patient. Preserving the Affordable Care Act--while seeking bipartisan support to make it better-by giving states more options, sooner. Educating and informing consumers about the law. These activities, individually and together, help deliver on ACP’s mission to “to advocate responsible positions on individual health and on public policy relating to health care for the benefit of the public, our patients, the medical profession, and our members.”
Today’s question: What do you think about ACP’s activities on the ethics of false sick notes, support for a bipartisan bill to give states more coverage options, and the new http://www.healthcareandyou.org/ consumer website?
About the Author
Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog
Email Bob Doherty: TheACPAdvocateblog@acponline.org.Follow @BobDohertyACP
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