Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Petition for Health Insurer Code of Conduct Garners Widespread National Support

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The recent call for a National Health Insurer Code of Conduct has won support from a number of groups across the country as many have joined the Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA) effort by signing a petition in favor of regulating managed care industries. Issued on March 10th, AfPA’s petition calls for the adoption of a Code of Conduct, currently being drafted by the American Medical Association, which will address the restrictive practices of the managed care industry that undermine the integrity of doctor-patient relationships.

“Support of the petition from physicians and patient advocacy groups has been encouraging,” said AfPA Chairman David Charles, M.D. “The principles that are advocated for in the code of conduct – transparency, corporate integrity, clinical autonomy and patient safety and welfare – have resonated with the health community, and groups are responding by signing the petition. This wide range of support demonstrates the growing recognition that the time has come for health insurance companies to adopt a voluntary Code of Conduct.”

Just one month after its launch, the petition has been signed by doctor and patient advocacy groups across the country, including the Georgia State Medical Association, Healthy African American Families, Out With Cancer, Massachusetts Association for Mental Health and National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Association.

“The AfPA petition is finally giving a voice to concerns over interference in the care physicians provide their patients,” said Dr. Charles. “Groups are working tirelessly to end the increasingly aggressive practices of managed care companies, with an ultimate goal of ensuring patient safety and access to approved therapies.”

Supporters of the AfPA Petition Include:

* Georgia State Medical Association
* The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
* National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Association
* The Birmingham Area Fibromyalgia Coalition
* Indiana Minority Health Coalition
* Indiana Society of Sleep Professionals
* Easter Seals of Iowa
* Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities
* Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) of Nebraska
* National Association of Hispanic Nurses/ Colorado Chapter
* National Association of Hispanic Nurses/ New York Chapter
* Colorado Council of Black Nurses
* Rocky Mountain Stroke Association
* For Grace
* Healthy African American Families
* MaleCare Prostate Cancer Support
* Out With Cancer
* New York State Rheumatology Society
* Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc.
* Epilepsy Coalition of New York State, Inc,
* Central Jewish Council, Inc.
* Lupus Agencies of New York State
* American Liver Foundation, Western PA Chapter
* Central Pennsylvania Allergy & Asthma
* Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association
* New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHA)
* New Jersey Mental Health Institute
* National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health
* Massachusetts Association for Mental Health

Comments from Supporters:

“Everyone understands the importance of appropriate health care cost containment and managed care is an important part of that effort. However, we see too many instances where the patient doctor relationship is interfered with and access to appropriate care and medication is denied or unreasonably limited. The focus must be on patient well being, outcomes, and improving health care and not on insurer’s balance sheet or bottom line.”

--Tim O’Leary, Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Inc., a private non-profit advocacy organization in Boston

"The AfPA's petition is a critical first step to raising awareness of the need for transparency in health care and to ensuring that caregivers and patients are able to put a patient's health first."

--Rosanna Reyes, RN, MPA, President of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses/ Colorado Chapter

"The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies signed on because they believe in the core principles expressed in the Code of Conduct and also strongly believe that quality care must focus on managing care, not costs.”

--Phillip A. Saperia, Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc.

"The Epilepsy Coalition of New York State stands behind the proposed Code of Conduct for health insurers because we believe that restrictions to the patient's access to care undermine the physician-patient relationship and can have severe consequences for individuals."

--Pamela Conford, Chairperson, Epilepsy Coalition of New York State, Inc.

"Central Jewish Council believes strongly that the doctor-patient relationship should be the core of all treatment decisions. Choices in healthcare should be made based on what is best for the patient, not for a company's bottom line.”

--Chaim Wercberger, Central Jewish Council, Inc.

“It is time we act in the best interest of the patients again. Let us not displace the expertise of our physicians with the cost-savings measures from insurers.”

--Dan Suarez, RN, MA, President National Association of Hispanic Nurses/ New York Chapter

“Policies and practices that delay or limit access to necessary medications do not make any sense from the clinical and humane perspectives and further, they just do not make smart fiscal sense. Immediate access to evidence based procedures and medications save money and most importantly, save lives."

--Debra L. Wentz, Ph.D., CEO, New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHA)

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. AfPA’s petition supports the AMA’s efforts and calls for the inclusion of specific key principles, including clinical autonomy, full transparency, business integrity, and patient safety.

The AfPA petition for a Health Insurer Code of Conduct is accessible on: www.insurepatientaccess.org .

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