Who We Are
Our Goals and Purposes
We support policies that put patient interests first and foremost. This focus on the patient will be critical as our health care system evolves over the next several years due to both funding constraints and the laudable effort to insure more of our citizens; make no mistake--meaningful access to quality care in America is largely determined by one's insurance status. Unfortunately, any changes to our health care system are occurring against a backdrop of severe financial difficulties. The Congressional Budget Office has reported that our budget deficit for 2012 was $1.1 trillion, the fourth year of trillion-dollar deficits. These annual deficits of nearly 10% of our nation's GDP shatter the post-World War II record of 6% set decades ago. Even before our current economic crisis, as our page Federal Realities, makes clear, federal spending on health care was already on an unsustainable course. Our current financial crisis has only worsened a severe preexisting structural problem, only temporarily improved by many provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
In addition, the states are facing a near perfect financial storm of their own. As our page, The States, demonstrates, almost all state governments are expecting large drops in revenues for the next few years and nearly all will reduce or have reduced their Medicaid spending in one form or another. Therefore, neither the federal government through our Medicare program, nor the states through their assorted Medicaid programs will be able to maintain access to care for their citizens, pay for all needed medical services, and continue to reimburse health care providers at current levels within our current system. Reform is inevitable and needed, and we maintain that physicians, due to their training, understanding of patient behavior, and intimate knowledge of the health care system are the group best positioned to lead reform efforts. Reforms by politicians who lack medical knowledge and often have agendas other than optimizing patient care may not lead to the best health care solutions for our country.
However, physicians will only be granted a leadership role in health care reform if we become, first and foremost, patient advocates. Therefore, it is unfortunate that as a response to this looming crisis in medical spending, both a few general medical societies and some specialty societies are responding by developing arguments that place physicians' concerns ahead of patient interests. As an example, how many times have we read that specialty physicians claim that they cannot currently afford to treat Medicare patients and will refuse to see them if reimbursement is reduced. This argument is seriously advanced despite the fact that even a cursory look at physicians' incomes reveals that we continue to enjoy quite high compensation levels--compensation levels that, as a matter of fact, far exceed the historical average for our profession.
We, as a society, hope to achieve the following: we intend to educate our colleagues on the financial crisis confronting our health care system; we plan to push for reforms that improve quality of patient care and expand the practice of patient centered care; we intend to advocate always for the patient as health care financing changes in the coming years, and we plan to celebrate the many joys and rewards of being an orthopedist, one of the best jobs on earth.
Our Mandate as American Citizens
The conclusion to the 2009 Message to the Public from our Social Security and Medicare Trustees reads as follows:
" The financial difficulties facing Social Security and Medicare pose serious challenges. For Social Security, the reform options are relatively well understood but the choices are difficult. Medicare is a bigger challenge. Its cost growth can be contained without sacrificing quality of care only if health care cost growth more generally is contained. But despite the difficulties—indeed, because of the difficulties—it is essential that action be taken soon, particularly to control health care costs."