Christopher R. Cogle: A good decision

Published: Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 29, 2012 at 5:14 p.m.

I applaud the Supreme Court ruling, which upholds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

For almost three decades the Alachua County Medical Society (ACMS) has coordinated charity care through its WeCare Physician Referral Network, with 900 Alachua County physicians and dentists providing approximately $4.5 million annually in health care to Alachua County residents who cannot afford health insurance. Started in 1984, WeCare was a creative measure to bridge major gaps in access to care. WeCare has not only helped thousands of Alachua County residents, it also has served as a charity care model for a dozen other counties in Florida. But charity care is not the answer, as need for health care in our community is much greater than what can be donated by physicians.

It is heart-wrenching to turn away individuals from WeCare because of a lack of charitable resources.

The Supreme Court's decision ensures that more Americans will gain access to life-saving and life-prolonging therapies.

Already, millions of American have benefited from early PPACA protections such as covering children despite pre-existing conditions, eliminating lifetime limits of coverage and extending insurance coverage for young adults up to the age of 26. In fact, several of medicine's health promotion and disease prevention methods will be greatly enhanced when more people can access care. For example, it will be much easier to prevent and control infections when more people are vaccinated.

Although the PPACA is a forward step in American health care, it is not a definitive cure for our ailing health care system. Namely, universal coverage is not guaranteed, insurance premiums may skyrocket, insurance plans may only provide shoddy coverage, and there are no provisions to control costs of health care. Furthermore, it remains to be seen whether our state government will expand Medicaid coverage for poor and disabled individuals.

Therefore, I anticipate a continued need for the ACMS WeCare charity program. As physicians of Alachua County, we reaffirm our commitment to providing high quality health care, because we care.d for our charity program. As physicians of Alachua County, we reaffirm our commitment to providing high quality health care, because we care.

Christopher R. Cogle, M.D. is a physician and scientist at the University of Florida.

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