AMA Backs House Reform Bill, Other Groups, Businesses Eye Reform Positions

The American Medical Association has backed the House bill that carries mandates on employers and individuals, a government-run health plan and reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, Politico reports.

"'We pledge to work with the House committees and leadership to build support for passage of health reform legislation to expand access to high quality, affordable health care for all Americans,' Micahel D. Maves, the organization's chief executive officer, wrote in a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel. The AMA is a crucial constituency in the debate because nearly every dollar of health-care spending starts with a doctor's order" (Allen, 7/16).

MSNBC: "The AMA looks forward to further constructive dialogue during the committee mark-up process. We pledge to work with the House committees and leadership to build support for passage of health reform legislation to expand access to high quality, affordable health care for all Americans," according to Maves' letter (Murray, 7/16).

While the AMA backs the measure, America's Health Insurance Plans, an insurer's trade group, came out against the House bill Thursday over concerns on fiscal stability and what they say could scale back insurance coverage for millions of Americans, Bloomberg reports. AHIP and the AMA "were among six industry groups that pledged to Obama in May they would support the broad outlines of his plan to rework the health-care system."

"Karen Ignagni, AHIP's president and CEO, said a new government-run coverage plan that reimburses providers based on Medicare's rates would push people out of the current employer- based insurance system. Such a program would 'significantly increase costs for those who remain in private coverage and add additional liabilities to the federal budget,' Ignagni wrote in a letter to the House chairmen overseeing health legislation" (Gaouette and Nussbaum, 7/16).

Other interest groups are in the news as well. 

Dow Jones Newswires: "Target Corp. may join Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in supporting the U.S. government's drive to require all large companies to provide health care benefits to their workers. The nation's second-largest retail discounter behind Wal-Mart supports the program 'in concept,' but would have to see the final language of any legislation to formally back it, Target spokeswoman Kay Rubbelke said" (Talley, 7/15).

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is winning "most of what it wants," The Wall Street Journal reports: "The final contours of the legislation are far from settled, but the industry, led by a onetime powerful congressman, has notched a string of victories. Legislation expected soon in the powerful Senate Finance Committee will leave out cost-cutting steps as part of an agreement with the industry and the White House, according to Congressional aides, industry lobbyists and others involved in the talks. The missing items include two planks of Mr. Obama's campaign platform: allowing cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada and giving the federal government the right to negotiate Medicare drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies" (Mundy and Meckler, 7/17).

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