Dear ACS Fellows, Members, and Members of Congress,
Many of our Fellows and Members, representing the surgical workforce, have expressed concern as to what will happen with the current efforts surrounding health care reform and fear that current programs will be curtailed without a clear and principled replacement articulated and debated.
It is essential that we make health care coverage accessible and more affordable to all Americans. A real opportunity exists to improve the current system, including lowering insurance costs. We must maintain the health insurance coverage gains in the number of Americans covered as we consider alternatives. This is particularly true for socio economically at-risk populations, including, children, families, and others. We cannot allow new coverage paradigms to threaten at-risk populations from accessing surgical services. Without access there cannot be high quality surgical care. As we consider changes to the Affordable Care Act, we must not limit services and compromise the safety net these patients rely upon.
Consistent with these principles, we believe that before any further action is taken through reconciliation or other means that would alter coverage, policymakers should outline what will replace the current policy.
Patients, surgeons, and other key stakeholders must be able to assess new proposals in order to make informed decisions about the access provided for care of surgical diseases.
The American College of Surgeons has for over 100 years committed itself to serve all patients with skill and fidelity. For as long as we have been engaged with the political system, we have worked at the state and federal levels and on both sides of the aisle to advocate for our patients and our members.
The American College of Surgeons 2017 Health Care Reform General Principles Summary, by which we evaluate policy and what is best for our patients, is available. It will guide us as health care reform evolves this year. We are committed to working with Congress and the new administration to ensure that all patients have access to high quality, affordable health care coverage and access to a skilled surgeon.
Courtney M. Townsend, Jr., MD, FACS
Michael J. Zinner, MD, FACS
ACS Chair, Board of Regents
David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS
ACS Executive Director
Marshall Z. Schwartz, MD, FACS
Chair, Health Policy Advocacy Group