Hooley is commended for her support of the CHAMP Act


As president of the American Osteopathic Association, I write to applaud the 225 House Members who voted in favor of the 'Children's Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) ACT of 2007,' including Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Oregon. This legislation ensures access to health care for children and seniors alike. This legislation would ensure that a larger percentage of our nation's children, seniors and rural populations have access to health care services. In addition, it makes fundamental reforms to the Medicare program providing greater equity in payments between all providers.

In addition to improving access to health care for children, this legislation improves the Medicare program by stabilizing the flawed Medicare physician payment formula and addressing concerns to rural America. The Medicare provisions in the CHAMP Act will help to stabilize the Medicare system and to further ensure that our seniors have access to physicians.

There is certainly a fair amount of angst amongst some members of Congress as well as their constituents regarding cuts to Medicare Advantage programs. It is important to clarify that these so-called cuts are actually decreases in overpayments, not payments, to these plans. These overpayments are unjustified in a time where the Medicare program must shore up all the resources it can in order to continue serving the ever-growing senior population of our nation. Without a doubt, MA plans serve a need in many areas; however, MA plans should not continue receiving 12 to 50 percent higher payments than traditional fee-for-service Medicare plans while providing few if any additional services to beneficiaries.

Reduction in payments to MA plans is one of many mechanisms the House of Representatives has proposed to pay for greater access to care. The supporters of the CHAMP Act recognized the value of taking on the big insurance companies rather than cowering to them in an effort to preserve seniors' access to physicians and other health care providers. Difficult decisions have to be made and the choice to limit or eliminate overpayments is fiscally responsible. We applaud those members of the House of Representatives who put the interest of our nation's children and senior citizens above those of the insurance industry. Instead of questioning why these members supported this important legislation, we should be questioning why (more than) 200 members of Congress voted against the legislation. One must ask herself, are the interest of the insurance industry more important than access to care for our children and grandparents? I think not.

Peter Ajluni, D.O., is president of the American Osteopathic Association and lives in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.