The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

May 1, 2013
Ami Bera dings Obama administration for rollout of Affordable Care Act

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius might want to carve out a few minutes to chat with Rep. Ami Bera, one of two Democratic members of Congress who happens to be a physician.

They probably could find more to discuss than the weather, like maybe President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act which is supposed to take full effect at the start of 2014.

"We have one chance to get this right," Bera told The Bee's editorial board. "If this fails and blows up, it is probably another decade if not longer before health care and we don't have another decade."

As a former chief medical officer for Sacramento County and an assistant dean at UC Davis medical school, Bera, an Elk Grove Democrat, might have a few suggestions about Obamacare's impending roll-out.

"I'm moderately to very concerned," Bera said. "I have been consistently concerned about the cost of care going up."

He added: "I worry that when the Affordable Care Act was originally passed, they did a very poor job of explaining it. ... I don't know that they're doing a much better job telling people about what the roll-out is going to look like."

Bera said he and his fellow freshman-physician, Rep. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat from the Palm Springs area, have not yet gotten on Sebelius' calendar, although they've "asked a couple of times for a meeting."

Why not, we asked?

"I don't know. I'd like to have that meeting."

Perhaps a formal letter is in order.

Bera addressed the related matter of granting non-physicians more authority to treat patients, suggesting physicians might need to agree cede turf to others such as nurse practitioners or optometrists.

"Reimbursement is going to change dramatically or your scope of practice is going to change," Bera said he tells physicians. "Which do you want to fight for?"

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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