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ACOM Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision Upholding The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 28, 2012

Contact:
Wendy Fernando
Vice President for Communications and Marketing
Phone: 301-968-4174
E-mail: wfernando@aacom.org

Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH
President and CEO
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) applauds the U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

By upholding the mandate, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the ACA were constitutional, except for a provision requiring states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. The Court upheld the constitutionality of that provision so long as states would lose only new funding for non-compliance, not all of their Medicaid funding. 

The upheld law contains many provisions that AACOM believes are vital to ensuring that all Americans have access to the high-quality, affordable patient care they deserve.  Given current physician workforce shortages and the additional 32 million currently uninsured Americans who are expected to become insured under the ACA, AACOM has strongly supported and continues to support numerous ACA provisions that are aimed at ensuring a physician workforce that meets the needs of the 21st century.

Graduate Medical Education and Addressing Workforce Shortages

AACOM believes that addressing physician workforce shortages, especially primary care physician shortages, is critical to the nation’s health and well-being, and that providing a sufficient number of graduate medical education (GME, or medical residency) training positions is vital to mitigating such shortages. AACOM supports such programs as the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Teaching Health Center (THC) GME program, which was created by the ACA to provide funding to establish newly accredited primary care residency programs, or to expand existing programs. This program will help in expanding the number of primary care physicians, particularly in underserved, high-need areas. This program also aims to promote GME opportunities for the nation’s growing number of medical school graduates.

Title VII 
AACOM supports the ACA reauthorization and revision of the Title VII health professions training programs, which aim to increase the health professions workforce and workforce diversity. The Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program is just one of the critical programs included in Title VII; also included are the Area Health Education Centers, Geriatric Education Centers, Centers of Excellence, and Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students.

Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs
 
AACOM supports the ACA’s enhanced funding for the National Health Service Corps, along with other scholarship and loan repayment programs aimed at recruiting and retaining an adequate health care workforce in areas of greatest need.

Rural Physician Training
AACOM supports the rural physician training grants authorized by the ACA. If funded, this program would provide grants for medical schools to recruit and train medical students to practice medicine in underserved rural communities.

National Health Care Workforce Commission

AACOM believes that additional resources should be devoted to ongoing health care workforce data production, analysis, and oversight to assure appropriate investments in the future. With the creation of the National Health Care Workforce Commission, which will make recommendations to Congress and the Administration on health professions workforce goals, priorities and policies, the Commission will help national leaders continue to focus on health professions workforce trends. AACOM supports the creation of the Commission and the funding still needed for the Commission to begin its work.

Health Care Research and Innovation

The ACA includes several provisions aimed at supporting health care research and innovation, including the creation and funding of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). PCORI was created as a non-governmental entity to fund patient-centered outcomes research that would give patients and those who care for them the ability to make better-informed health care decisions.  PCORI recently released its first primary research funding announcements, which will provide $120 million this year for innovative projects.

AACOM supports the law’s creation of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) new Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMI). The CMI will investigate methods to deliver high-quality, cost-effective health care through Medicare and Medicaid, including the development of patient-centered medical homes, promotion of care coordination through salary-based payment; community-based health teams to support small-practice medical homes; use of health information technology to coordinate care for the chronically ill; and salary-based payment for physicians.

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Significant numbers of osteopathic medical college graduates continue to pursue primary care careers, to provide a compassionate, holistic approach that is central to improving patient care and the broader health care system. However, continued federal support for the aforementioned programs is necessary to ensure America’s ability to sustain and expand its health care workforce. Working together on innovative solutions to the health professions shortage crisis, AACOM, its member institutions, other health professions, and federal and state government agencies can continue working toward ensuring that all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care.

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine promotes excellence in osteopathic medical education, in research and in service, and fosters innovation and quality among osteopathic medical colleges to improve the health of the American public.

Additional Contacts:

Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH
President and CEO 
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
(301) 968-4142
president@aacom.org

Pamela Murphy, MSW
Director of Government Relations
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine 
(301) 968-9151
pmurphy@aacom.org

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