May 26, 2021
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy
California Medical Association (CMA) President Peter N. Bretan, MD, released the following statement in response to the Public Option announcement by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Frank Pallone:
"The California Medical Association appreciates efforts by Senator Murray and Congressman Pallone to expand health care choices for the uninsured. But we strongly believe that we must first rebuild our health care infrastructure in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and take other important steps before we can have a meaningful discussion over a public option.
"The last 18 months have rocked our health care system, leaving many patients without coverage and thousands of physician practices on the brink of insolvency. Our immediate goal should be to bolster the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and find ways to rebuild what we have lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring patients do not lose access to care while working to expand coverage and lower health care costs.
"We are concerned that a debate over a public option this year may divert Congress’ attention from the more pressing health care priorities that must be immediately addressed this year.
"The nation is still in the midst of ensuring that every American receives a COVID-19 vaccine and that physician practices can keep their doors open to serve their patients and their communities. According to a CMA survey, physician practices are still wrestling with higher costs and decreasing patient volume, threatening their ability to keep their doors open to serve their patients. The long-term impacts could be reduced access to care for many Californians, particularly those in rural and other underserved communities.
"The pandemic also revealed dramatic disparities in our health care system that must be addressed. Congress should also be laser-focused on ensuring that the important ACA improvements in the American Rescue Plan that make insurance more affordable are made permanent this year. We are also working hard to enact the historic HR 3 which will finally make prescription drugs more affordable for our patients. We urge Congress to focus on these immediate patient needs before we tackle such a significant health system change."