March 10, 2009
Alliance for Patient Access Launches Petition in Support of a National Health Insurer Code of Conduct
Code to Call for Patient Access, Safety and Welfare, Transparency, Clinical Autonomy and Corporate Integrity
Nashville, TN – In an effort to ensure and protect patient access to approved medical treatments, a petition in support of a Health Insurer Code of Conduct was launched today by the Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA). The petition calls for the adoption of a Code of Conduct, currently being drafted by the American Medical Association, which will address restrictive practices of the managed care industry which undermine the integrity of doctor-patient relationships.
The AMA House of Delegates passed a resolution in November of 2008 to draft and adopt a National Health Insurer Code of Conduct. According to the resolution, the AMA code will set forth clear and concise principles addressing both medical policies and payment issues, as well as create a mechanism to monitor compliance by managed care companies.
“A Code of Conduct for the managed care industry is long overdue,” said Dr. David Charles, AfPA Chairman. “Signing the petition is an excellent way for physicians and the public to urge the AMA to adopt a National Heath Insurer Code of Conduct. Anyone who cares about preserving the inviolability of the patient-doctor relationship should sign the petition in order to urge the AMA toward action on this important issue.”
Currently, while many managed care organizations maintain appropriate focus on quality measures, some managed care plans and pharmacy benefit managers employ aggressive tactics to cut costs, while at the same time shifting blame for consequences of actions such as premium increases and cost-sharing strategies onto other parties in the healthcare industry.
The petition calls for autonomy between doctors and managed care companies, as well as full transparency regarding a patient’s prescribed course of care. This includes any relationships with outside parties that might influence doctors’ decisions. AfPA also calls for upholding business integrity, with fees reflecting acceptable rates and prescribed courses of treatment resulting from medically-based, not fiscally-driven, decisions. Finally, and most importantly, AfPA’s first priority remains patients’ access to quality medical care that ensures their safety and welfare. AfPA stresses that a Code of Conduct is not intended to unravel the practices of managed care, but instead to level the playing field so that physicians can act in the best interests of their patients, and without interference from outside influences such as monetary incentives or fears of punitive actions. Furthermore, AfPA recognizes the need for cost-savings, especially considering the current economic climate, but believes that such a code is necessary to restore a balance of power between cost containment efforts and preservation of the doctor-patient relationship.
“The AfPA teaches physicians to be more effective advocates for our patients because we want our patients to have access to the very best care,” says Dr. Charles. “In keeping with that mission, the AfPA urges the AMA to create and adopt a Health Insurer Code of Conduct.”
The AMA is currently drafting a Health Insurer Code of Conduct and will vote to adopt the code in June.
The AfPA petition for a Health Insurer Code of Conduct is accessible on: www.insurepatientaccess.org