At this point, there are three comprehensive healthcare reform bills passed by key United States Congressional Committees, i.e. the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and a consortium of House committees, referred to as the House Tri-Committee, consisting of the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor Committees.

The Med Law Blog will select a key issue of healthcare reform on a weekly basis and attempt to summarize that for the readers. All of the bills include provisions dealing with the following issues:

1.                  Requiring insurance coverage for all Americans who apply (Guaranteed Issue), prohibiting health plans from denying coverage based upon preexisting conditions, and prohibiting premium underwriting for certain conditions;

2.                  Creating health insurance exchanges to provide better access to health insurance coverage;

3.                  Establishing essential benefits standards for health insurance (Minimum Coverage);

4.                  Providing financial subsidies for people who cannot afford health insurance premiums;

5.                  Requiring all individuals to have health insurance (Mandated or Mandatory Coverage); and

6.                  Requiring employers to share the responsibility for health insurance costs (Employer Pay or Play).

An item that is not getting much coverage in the press is provisions in the Senate Finance Committee requiring Physician Transparency and Disclosure. Section 4101 of the Senate Finance Committee Healthcare Reform Bill will require applicable manufacturers and distributors to report payments to physicians and physician ownership in those companies. These provisions will become effective for the year 2011, and require report within 90 days of the close of each calendar year, therefore beginning March 31, 2012. The reports will require the name, business address, physician specialty, NPI number, and the amount, date, description and purposes of any payments to physicians, and the amount invested in the fair market value of any physician investment in those companies.

Section 4102, another physician reform provision, will require certain disclosure statements by physicians providing certain self-referred imaging services. Effective January 1, 2010, physicians providing MRI, CT, PET and any other designated health service specified in Section (h)(6)(D) of the Physicians Self-Referral Statute (i.e. the radiology section), must provide individuals with a written list of supplies who furnish such services in the area in which the individual resides.