ACP suggests 'new vision' should lead healthcare reform after COVID-19

June 4, 2020

The policy suggestions released earlier this year could be used to guide actions during the COVID-19 pandemic and after, according to ACP leaders.

Leaders of the American College of Physicians (ACP) say that a policy proposal they introduced earlier this year could be used to guide the U.S. healthcare system both during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and afterward.

In an Ideas and Opinions article published in Annals of Internal Medicine earlier this week, ACP leaders argued that actions outlined in the January policy paper, “Better is Possible: The American College of Physicians Vision for the U.S. Health Care System” could be used during the current pandemic and afterward to improve access to care, reduce per capita healthcare costs, and reduce healthcare system complexity.

The pandemic has exposed the flaws of the U.S. healthcare system including lack of universal coverage and access, socioeconomic inequalities, race- and ethnicity-based marginalization, and gendered consequences, according to lead author Sue S. Bornstein, MD, FACP.

“This widespread public health crisis has wreaked havoc on patients and left many health care systems unable to provide much needed care,” she says in a statement. “Enough is enough. The time is now to address our system’s shortcomings and enact real change.”

The policy paper calls for the U.S. to adopt a single payer financing healthcare system or a publicly-financed coverage option with regulated private insurance.

The authors write that the need for an expansion of coverage is underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic as more than 30 million people are uninsured or underinsured. That number is likely to increase as the pandemic has led to tens of millions of Americans losing their jobs and possibly their employer-provided insurance policies. 

They also reaffirm that a healthy primary care system is key to ensuring accessible, affordable, comprehensive healthcare for all citizens.

“As physicians on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe more than ever that better is possible,” Thomas Cooney, MD, MACP, a senior author on the paper and chair of ACP’s Health and Public Policy Committee, says in a statement. “We must take the lessons learned of healthcare inequities and injustices and move forward to create a more equitable and just system of care for all.”