August 23, 2010 / 9:19 PM / 9 years ago

White House makes health reform case to doctors

CHICAGO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama’s administration asked U.S. doctors Monday to get on board with health reform legislation passed in March, saying those who embrace change will prosper.

Administration officials said the new law will provide doctors with information technology and incentives to improve the care they deliver, but only if they cooperate.

“The most successful physicians will be those who most effectively collaborate with other providers to improve outcomes, care productivity and patient experience,” Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, and colleagues wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The officials asked doctors not to let their disappointment over Congress’ failure to fix problems with Medicare payments

affect their enthusiasm for health reform.

“The uncertainty surrounding the sustainable growth rate policy is a distraction and potentially a barrier for some physicians to embrace the Affordable Care Act,” DeParle and colleagues wrote.

“But physicians should not let their frustration ... distract them from improvements that health care reform delivers to their patients and the profession.”

DeParle said the Affordable Care Act gives doctors financial support for making needed changes, including adding electronic health records and encouraging preventive care.

The act is expected to extend health insurance coverage to 32 million uninsured people, but many changes will need to take place to get patients to change their habits. For example, the legislation relies heavily on preventing disease to save money down the road.

“Because a patient is not feeling sick, engaging in prevention seems optional,” they wrote.

They said costs slow some people from getting needed preventive tests, and many patients do not get enough reminders about them.

The White House also said the act will help improve the quality of care by giving doctors more information about whether their patients are taking their medications and whether they are following through on prevention recommendations.

The act also promises to simplify paperwork for patients and allow doctors to easily check to see if a test is covered, changes that are expected to save the government more than $20 billion over the next decade, the White House argued.

“Physicians are on the front lines of the health care system and it’s essential they have the facts about the Affordable Care Act,” Nick Papas, communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform, said in an e-mail.

Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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