The North Carolina Medical Society Board of Directors has adopted what it calls “Guiding Principles For National Health System Reform.” Don’t get too excited. I know it’s difficult to get such a large organization that represents a wide variety of political opinions to agree on such a controversial topic, but I thought the docs would do better than this bland list.
A few of the points look more like a jumble of words crammed together rather than a call for reform. Take this doozy of a sentence:
Provide sustainable financing mechanisms that ensure an affordable mix of services and create responsibility among all stakeholders for financing and appropriate utilization of the system.
Then there is the principle that should be emblazoned on the letterhead at the North Carolina Medical Society:
Reform the tort system to prevent non-meritorious lawsuits.
Probably the most radical statement is the first principle:
Promote portable and continuous health care coverage for all Americans using an affordable mix of public and private payer systems.
Presumably this means that docs at the NCMS oppose single-payer or an open market free-for-all. But it doesn’t provide much guidance beyond those two extremes. Would the organization support a public option? We don’t know.
Everyone wants to promote health reform these days. But the NCMS and the American Medical Association should be more vocal about the need to expand and strengthen Medicaid, get insurance to small businesses, offer a public option to catch those who fall through the cracks. We need specifics.
As Dr. Bill Roper at UNC Health Care has said, every stakeholder is going to have to sacrifice to make reform a reality. Hospitals are not going to get the same generous reimbursements. Doctors are going to have to sacrifice some autonomy and practice in larger, more efficient groups.
It would be nice if the NCMS spelled out where it is willing to give in the give-and-take of health reform.