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Some CT Doctors Urge Passage of SustiNet

May 25, 2011

NEW LONDON, Conn. - A relatively new organization representing physicians in Connecticut is urging swift passage of the state's health-reform bill, known as SustiNet. Other physicians' groups in the state have expressed reservations about the bill after the Legislature stripped a provision to provide protection from medical liability.

The Connecticut chapter of the National Physicians Alliance this week sent a letter to Gov. Dannel Malloy and members of the General Assembly. Dr. Stephen Smith, chapter president, says his group represents doctors of all specialties who focus on patient-centered care - and that they support SustiNet.

"We believe it will be able to rationalize the way health care is organized, provide the highest-quality care at the most efficient price, and will be a benefit to everyone in Connecticut, whether they're in SustiNet or getting their insurance through private insurance companies."

If SustiNet includes a public option, which is yet to be determined, Smith says, that would help restrain growth in health-care costs among private insurers as well.

Smith says the members of his group, like other doctors around the state, are disappointed that the Public Health Committee took malpractice protection out of the bill.

"The National Physicians Alliance here in Connecticut feels that meaningful malpractice reform in the state is essential, but we don't feel like you should throw the baby out with the bathwater - and SustiNet, in and of itself, is worth our support."

Smith cites an important convergence of the federal and state health reform efforts.

"The Affordable Care Act really focuses mostly on access to care and insurance-company reforms, which are great. SustiNet will really look at how we organize health care in a way to make it much more efficient, as well as providing high-quality care."

Passing SustiNet would make Connecticut a more attractive place to live, work and practice medicine, Smith says, adding that it also would allow physicians to be better able to meet their patients' needs.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT