As we enter this discussion, we will advocate for the policies
that we believe will have the greatest benefit toward ensuring
that all surgical patients have access to necessary services.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
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Medicare payment policy. This task should not be
delegated to an unelected government body that
accepts minimal input from patients and other
Medical liability reform
The mission of the ACS is to improve the care of the
surgical patient, safeguard standards of care, and
create an ethical practice environment. The College believes the nation’s medical liability system
is broken and that it fails both patients and physicians. Whereas liability reforms enacted at the state
level have effectively reduced health care costs and
improved access to care, the College will advocate
for reforms aimed at fostering safety, quality, and
accountability; traditional tort reforms, including
caps on noneconomic damages; and alternative,
patient-centered reforms, such as early disclosure
and offer programs, communication and resolution
programs, and safe harbor protections.
Strategy going forward
We are living in an era of political polarization, and
health care reform certainly has been one of the most
divisive issues for a number of years. As a professional organization dedicated to providing surgical
patients with optimal care, it behooves the College
to play a part in this round of the debate.
We will urge Congress to take the College’s general
principles into account as members develop a clear
strategy for reforming the current policies. The ACS
also will encourage legislators to provide opportunities for patients, health care professionals, and other
key stakeholders to assess new proposals and to share
their views on the best path forward.
In these exchanges, the College will be direct but
civil and will be prepared to offer alternatives that we
believe will serve the interests of surgical patients.
No doubt, there will be—and, in fact, should be—
disagreement. A certain amount of conflict and tension is necessary to stimulate change and growth.
However, we cannot allow these discussions to deteriorate into discord and division.
For more than 100 years, Fellows of the ACS have
been committed to serving all patients with skill and
fidelity. Throughout our history, we have engaged
with state and federal lawmakers on both sides of the
aisle to advocate for the profession and our patients.
The ACS leadership looks forward to a thoughtful
reevaluation of the health care system in the months
and years ahead. ♦