Heim Lobbies Congress on Health Reform
While President Obama was calling for an up-or-down vote on health-care reform legislation at the White House Wednesday, Dr. Lori Heim was lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Heim, a Vass resident, is president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. In October, she was among 11 physicians who had a private audience with Obama in the Oval Office before a Rose Garden ceremony promoting a health-care reform bill.
The program was part of a Doctors for America initiative led by a group lobbying for health-care reform.
But on Wednesday, the academy was represented by Dr. Roland Goertz, of Waco, Texas, who is president-elect and will succeed Heim in September.
"Our academy supports health-care reform," Heim said Thursday. "It is necessary for the health of the public."
Her visit to Washington also included meeting with former President Bill Clinton and the surgeon general, Dr. Regina Benjamin.
Heim said the lobbying was essential because facets of the health-care legislation remain to be addressed, such as the need to make a minimum package available to the uninsured.
"If we're going to require people to have insurance and there is no minimum package, then the choice will be between a policy offering poor health service or an expensive one," she said. "This means that some people don't get the care they need."
Heim said people need a package that covers at least minimum service for chronic and acute care as well as catastrophic coverage. She cited as examples the needs of diabetics and heart failure patients.
The minimum package is not a public option, she said. Instead, it would be a minimum requirement of the insurance plan available to the uninsured through the health-care reform bill.
Heim had occasion to chat briefly with Clinton during a fundraiser and birthday party honoring Democratic Congressman John Lewis, of Georgia. Their conversation centered on health-care reform, and Heim said she thanked him for supporting the program.
Her meeting with the surgeon general focused on the first lady's obesity initiative, something that Dr. Benjamin supports. First Lady Michelle Obama's obesity project has been widely publicized.
Heim said there is need for a comprehensive approach to the obesity problem, and the program is widely approved by family physicians. She and Benjamin are family physicians.
At present Heim works as a hospitalist at Scotland Memorial Hospital in Laurinburg. However, as academy president, she travels frequently to make appearances on behalf of the organization and to promote health care.
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