Fresno doctors say don’t rush the American Health Care Act

As the House Republican legislation to reform health care moves through Congress, doctors in Fresno are watching carefully. Because whatever happens – a total repeal or a partial replacement of the Affordable Care Act – physicians will be seeing patients insured under the new law.

And doctor acceptance of a new federal plan will be crucial to its success.

So far, the American Medical Association and the California Medical Association have voiced concerns about the American Health Care Act, also called Trumpcare, and how it could affect access to doctors.

But doctors have long complained about Obamacare, as many call the Affordable Care Act. Finding physicians who accept the insurance has been difficult in the central San Joaquin Valley for lower-income patients under the expanded Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) portion of the law, and also for people buying private health plans through Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange.

Last week, four Fresno doctors talked with The Bee about the Affordable Care Act – and what they say has worked and what has failed. They also voiced concern that Congress will rush the American Health Care Act into law, as they said happened to the Affordable Care Act, to less-than-perfect result.

They are Alan Birnbaum, a neurologist; Don Gaede, an internist and vascular specialist; Gene Kallsen, a hospital emergency physician; and Alan Kelton, an internist and current president of the Fresno-Madera Medical Society.

Comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: Do you see patients who have insurance through the Affordable Care Act?

Dr. GAEDE

I don’t see a whole lot of people with the ACA, but the ones I do appear to be ones that probably would not have purchased insurance and who would have gone without medication, without medical treatment.

Dr. KELTON

In my teaching clinic, where I have medical students and residents, most of the patients who did not have insurance before are now covered by the Medi-Cal…

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