At a recent WAMPAC/AMPAC lunch in Auburn also attended by PCMS Vice President Nicholas Rajacich, MD, Executive Director Bruce Ehrle raised a number of pressing issues in need of aggressive consideration by Congress with Kim Schrier, MD. Schrier is the Democratic candidate in the open 8th Congressional District race. The district includes the eastern section of Pierce County.
As a practicing health system pediatrician, Schrier has witnessed the same thing that many physicians continue to experience on a daily basis including administrative burdens, less time with patients, HIT interoperability issues, and a HIPPA law that in no way reflects 21st Century technological realities forcing the medical profession to be just about the last one in the nation to widely use fax machines. She also sees barriers to care for all patient populations.
Regarding those patient access issues, Bruce Ehrle stressed that even as Congress may continue to consider setting up other federal payer models such as opt-in Medicare-for-All that Dr. Schrier supports, it is equally important to work in partnership with states to provide more physician reimbursement resources to a giant Medicaid population in that existing program and to substantially increase oversight and regulation of the private insurance industry. With the insurance industry continuing to raise premiums as well as deductibles on patients and employers making such policies increasingly unaffordable and unusable, while at the same time cutting the procedures and drugs that are covered by even their most expensive plans, Bruce discussed with Dr. Schrier the need to do something at the federal level about the unacceptable instances where physicians and PAs can't successfully proceed with the care they prescribe for their patients because their insurance doesn't cover such care.
He said that should she win and the Democratic Party assume control of the US House, he would be working with her and others in the delegation PCMS maintains contact with including Reps. Kilmer and Heck (as well as other Members of Congress in both the US House and US Senate that he knows personally) to achieve such regulation and oversight of the insurance industry so that at a time when payment is shifting away from fee-for-service and doctors will be on the hook for patient outcomes (and some private insurance companies are now going to start rating doctors on quality and value), those same physicians are now being severely hampered due to insurance companies not covering the care their patients need to reach those outcomes. Bruce described such barriers as a human injustice for patients and a professional injustice for physicians that must be solved so that American medical care does not increasingly sink in to repetitive situations where clinicians must tell their patients they can't receive the care they need because their insurance won't cover it.