Western Carolina Medical Society releases statement on Supreme Court health-care decision

Miriam Schwarz, CEO of the Western Carolina Medical Society (WCMS) and Dr. Cynthia Brown, President of the WCMS Association have issued the following statement in response to today’s Supreme Court ruling.

WCMS plans to study the impact of today’s Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and how it will affect WNC and Buncombe County physicians, hospitals and patients. While it’s premature to say just how the Supreme Court decision to uphold the PPACA will impact us locally, WCMS and its 950 physicians remain committed to focusing on providing high quality care at the lowest cost possible for all people in our region. To this end, WCMS is planning to play a role in the following actions moving forward:

• Identifying people who might qualify for Medicaid or the insurance exchange, and helping them to get signed up for coverage.

• Addressing the supply of providers in our region so that newly insured patients have access to health care.

PPACA doesn’t guarantee insurance to everyone. For this reason, WCMS is concerned about meeting the needs of those left behind in WNC.

• Nationwide the federal government projects that the reform law will reduce the number of uninsured by just over 50%, leaving more than 20 million people still uninsured.

• Based on the composition of our population and estimates by NCIOM and Urban Institute, about 750,000-1 million NC residents will still be uninsured. Even with reform, Buncombe County could expect to still have around 25,000 uninsured people.

WCMS’ Project Access (a comprehensive network of over 650 volunteer physicians serving low income, uninsured people in Buncombe County) plans to work with its partners in the safety net system, such as federally qualified community health centers, hospitals, free clinics, health departments, and other community based clinics to identify and serve those people who remain uninsured.

The North Carolina Medical Society’s official statement (NCMS) indicated: “With the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the future of PPACA is thrust back into the political arena and will surely be debated in the new Congress. In that debate, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) urges policy makers to address the ongoing challenges faced by physicians and their patients. “

Western North Carolina Medical Society agrees with the NCMS’ position that the court’s decision does not resolve the significant challenges faced by America’s physicians and their patients. As noted by the NCMS, Medicare has become an unstable source of coverage for health care services, putting physicians and their elderly patients in jeopardy of losing access to care – often several times per budget cycle – over disputes about the fee schedule (Sustainable Growth Rate formula) that have languished without a solution for more than a decade. Specific issues such as the cost and financing of existing government-sponsored health coverage programs, widespread physician shortages, and substantial burdens related to running medical practices, continue to be areas of concern that have not been adequately addressed by policy makers.

Formed in 1885, the Western Carolina Medical Society (WCMS) is a voluntary professional association of almost 950 physicians. WCMS is the physicians’ voice advocating for the health of the medical profession, the health of the patient, and the health of the community throughout Western North Carolina. WCMS is located at 304 Summit Street, Asheville.

For further information contact WCMS at 828 274-2267 or log onto mywcms.org.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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