National Health Insurer Code of Conduct Hits 1000 Signatures of Support

Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA)
Business Wire
July 6, 2009

WASHINGTON --(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Support for a National Health Insurer Code of Conduct to regulate the managed care industry, an initiative supported by the Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA), has achieved a significant milestone as it has garnered its one thousandth signature. Launched just months ago, the list of signatories continues to grow at a rapid pace as individuals, doctors, and patient advocacy groups rally to show their support for a much needed National Health Insurer Code of Conduct.

AfPA's petition sets forth clear and concise principles to address both medical care policies and payment issues, seeks concurrence among health insurers in complying with this code of conduct, as well as proposes a mechanism to monitor compliance. Its core principles are: transparency, clinical autonomy, corporate integrity, and most importantly, patient access and safety.

The Code of Conduct, which is being drafted by the American Medical Association (AMA), is designed to address the aggressive cost-cutting tactics used by the managed care industry. Tactics, such as therapeutic substitution and fail-first policies, can cause undue suffering to patients and interfere with the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship. The managed care industry is the only remaining sector of the healthcare industry that lacks a Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics.

"Strong support for this petition underscores the fact that physicians are frustrated when managed care companies interfere in the care of their patients," said AfPA Chairman David Charles, M.D. "I am particularly encouraged by the timely growth of our petition because it shows that doctors, patients, and advocacy groups are banding together to support the need for an Insurer Code of Conduct."

"Everyone understands the importance of appropriate health care cost containment, and managed care is an important part of that effort," said Tim O'Leary, Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Inc., a private non-profit advocacy organization in Boston. "However, we see too many instances where the patient-doctor relationship is interfered with and access to appropriate care and medication is denied or unreasonably limited. The focus must be on patient well being, outcomes, and improving health care, and not on insurer's balance sheet or bottom line."

Resolution 823 "Health Insurance Code of Conduct" was originally adopted by the House of Delegates after being introduced by the New York Delegation at the 2008 AMA interim meeting in November. At the most recent June AMA meeting in Chicago, Dr. Joseph Heyman presented a report from the Board of Trustees on a Health Insurer Code of Conduct.

The report notes a new sense of urgency to address physician and patient frustrations with health insurers citing examples state legislatures working to provide physician and patient relief from unfair managed care practices. Specifically, the report cites Indiana House Resolution 91, passed in June of 2009, which encourages the AMA to develop a Health Insurer Code of Conduct, as well as the "Health Insurance Code of Conduct Act of 2009," sponsored by the Texas Medical Association, which is being considered by the Texas legislature [Senate Bill 1257 and House Bill 2750, respectively]. The AMA expects to vote on a finalized version of a Health Insurer Code of Conduct at its interim meeting this November.

The AfPA petition for a Health Insurer Code of Conduct is accessible on:

About AfPA

AfPA is a national network of nearly 300 physicians with the shared mission of ensuring and protecting patient access to approved medical treatments and therapies, including prescription pharmaceuticals, biologics, and medical devices. AfPA accomplishes this mission through educating members on policy priorities and training them to be effective patient advocates. Specifically, AfPA recruits and trains health policy-minded physicians to be effective advocates at a local, state, and federal level, and then facilitates communications between them as they promote pro-access health policy. AfPA's policy agenda is focused on global health policy issues including: comparative effectiveness, therapeutic substitution, prescriptive authority, evidence-based medicine, bio-similar safety, and health access disparities.

For Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA):

Sealy Livermore, 212-446-1873

Source: Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA)

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