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Is it possible that legislators in Washington, DC can actually change the ethical boundaries of healthcare providers? The American Medical Association’s answer is a resounding YES. This well-respected organization contends that the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” violates the “first, do no harm” standard of care on many levels! The US Senate released the discussion draft of the legislation on June 22, 2017 and the American Medical Association responded in just four days with a scathing letter to Senate leaders.
Most commonly known as the Hippocratic Oath, primum non nocere has been an axiom central to the practice of medicine – Above All, Do No Harm! The concept dates back to the Middle Ages but is more commonly attributed to English Physician Thomas Sydenham and is used as a guide to the ethical practice of medicine. It is intended to be a vivid reminder that every medical decision has the potential to do harm. Another way to think about it is: when there is an existing problem, it may be better to do nothing than risk causing additional harm.
In the June 26th letter addressed to Majority Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer, the AMA presents a laundry list of concerns. Most important is access to healthcare for ALL individuals. Proposals in the discussion draft convert Medicaid to a system that limits the federal government’s obligation to care for patients in need with a predetermined formula based on per-capita-caps. In addition, the proposal artificially limits increases in Medicaid expenditures below medical inflation which threatens the ability of states to care for the most vulnerable patients. The letter goes on to cite the AMA’s opposition to mandates that restrict where low income patients can receive treatment – in particular a […]