Dr. J. James Rohack isn’t just the president of the influential American Medical Association, an organization that carried the torch for the health care reform bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed this week. He’s a Texan.
Rohack is a senior staff cardiologist at Scott & White Clinic in Temple, and a professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. He’s also the former president of the Texas Medical Association, which very publicly opposed the health care legislation.
At the annual HMO Research Network Conference in Austin this week, Rohack sat down with The Texas Tribune to explain why Texas has so much to gain from the health care overhaul, what effect tort reform has had on the state’s medical costs, and what the political ramifications are for his organization's support of the reform bill — nationally and back home in Texas.
TT: We're meeting at a historic time — the morning after the health care bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives. What are your thoughts on Sunday night's vote?
TT: Where do you personally come down on health care payment reform, and moving away from the fee-for-service model? And how do you manage the disparate views — and salary brackets — of the doctors you represent, be it primary care physicians or neurosurgeons?
TT: Texas has passed the strictest tort reform in the country, yet the cost curve here has not bent noticeably, as far as the price of care is concerned. What effect has Texas' tort reform effort had?
TT: What will be the political ramification for the AMA, in terms of membership and clout, of supporting the health care legislation? What about its relationship with the TMA, which opposed the measure?