House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), urged by President Donald Trump, has rushed this legislation forward since the beginning of the year, making substantial changes along the way to a measure that would have profound effects on the U.S. health care system and the patients it serves.
Throughout that process, one thing has been clear: Republicans haven’t been listening to people who treat and represent patients. That’s a big reason why physicians, hospitals, nurses and organizations advocating for people with serious illnesses are all but uniformly opposed to the American Health Care Act.
Read on to find out what the health care sector has to say about the GOP health care bill.
Andrew Gurman, president of the American Medical Association:
America should not go backward to the time when our fellow citizens with pre-existing health conditions faced high costs for limited coverage, if they were able to obtain coverage at all. The AMA urges congressional leaders and the Administration to pursue a bipartisan dialogue on alternative policies that provide patients with access and coverage to high quality care and preserve the safety net for vulnerable populations.
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, JDRF, March of Dimes, National Organization for Rare Disorders, National MS Society, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease:
In March, our patient advocacy organizations collectively urged Congress to ensure that any changes made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) provide affordable, accessible and adequate coverage and do not result in a loss of coverage for any Americans. The AHCA would do the opposite, causing at least 24 million Americans to lose health insurance, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
As introduced, the bill would profoundly reduce coverage for millions of Americans — including many low-income and disabled individuals who rely on Medicaid — and increase out-of-pocket costs for the sickest and oldest among us. We are alarmed by recent harmful changes to the AHCA, including provisions that will weaken key consumer protections.
Rick Pollack, CEO of the American Hospital Association:
Our top concern is what this change could mean for older and sicker patients, including those with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer patients and those with chronic conditions. For these reasons, along with our previously stated concerns about the AHCA, we cannot support the bill. …
The amendment proposed this week would dramatically worsen the bill. The changes included put consumer protections at greater risk by allowing states to waive the essential health benefit standards, which could leave patients without access to critical health services and increase out-of-pocket spending. This could allow plans to set premium prices based on individual risk for some consumers, which could significantly raise costs for those with pre-existing conditions.
“There is nothing moderate about the AHCA. Rather, it is an extreme attack on access and coverage for millions of Americans.”
Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president:
Changes under consideration that would allow states to waive important consumer protections ― allowing insurance companies to once again charge Americans with pre-existing conditions more because they’ve had cancer, diabetes or heart disease ― would make a bad bill even worse. This would be devastating for the 25 million Americans 50-64 who have a deniable pre-existing condition.
Sister Carol Keehan, CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States:
It is critically important to look at this bill for what it is. It is not in any way a health care bill. Rather, it is legislation whose aim is to take significant funding allocated by Congress for health care for very low income people and use that money for tax cuts for some of our wealthiest citizens. This is contrary to the spirit of who we are as a nation, a giant step backward that should be resisted. Lastly, we must point out that this bill has been crafted largely behind closed doors, with almost no input from providers of health care.
Fernando Stein, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Pediatricians have been voicing our opposition to the AHCA since it was initially introduced, and the current version makes an already bad bill even worse for children and families. This bill would dismantle the Medicaid program by capping its funding and eliminating the Medicaid expansion, and a new amendment adds on even more harmful policies, such as allowing insurance companies to refuse to cover those with pre-existing conditions. In short, the bill hinders states’ and families’ ability to provide and access care. These are not improvements to our health care system; they are setbacks that would have real consequences for children.
Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association:
The American Health Care Act is bad policy. ... The measure would force millions to lose insurance, cut key public health investments and gut health protections for Americans. Now, in a bid to win votes, they’ve taken a bad bill and made it worse.
Despite recent activities and amendments, the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628) remains a highly flawed proposal that will destabilize our health care system, cause significant loss of coverage, and allow for the discrimination against patients based on their gender, age, and health status. For these reasons, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) continues to oppose the AHCA and encourages the House of Representatives to reject this failed policy. …
By removing critical consumer protections that collectively ensure that the millions of individuals with pre-existing conditions can continue to purchase affordable health care coverage, the AHCA would result in higher premiums and higher deductibles for millions. Additionally, the negative impact of the AHCA is not limited to the individual insurance market. These policies also may impact the more than 130 million people with employer-sponsored insurance.
Pamela Cipriano, president of the American Nurses Association:
AHCA would cut Medicaid funding by $880 billion over 10 years, dramatically increase premiums on seniors, restrict millions of women from access to health care, weaken the sustainability of Medicare, and repeal income-based subsidies that have made it possible for millions of families to buy health insurance.
Bruce Siegel, CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals:
The AHCA is a deeply flawed bill that would leave more people without health insurance than before the Affordable Care Act, weaken programs for our most vulnerable people, and leave states, local governments, and taxpayers holding the bag. This amendment might win votes, but it likely won’t change the outcome: 24 million more Americans without health insurance.
Jack Ende, president of the American College of Physicians:
On behalf of the American College of Physicians (ACP), I write to urge the House of Representatives to vote no on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) because it will bring great harm to patients, many of whom are treated by our members, notwithstanding the amendment that reportedly will be offered today on funding for high risk pools. ...
There is nothing moderate about the AHCA. Rather, it is an extreme attack on access and coverage for millions of Americans, and especially, older, sicker, and poorer patients who are most in need of help. Please vote for patients and against this extreme bill.
“This is contrary to the spirit of who we are as a nation.”
Paul Markovich, CEO of Blue Shield of California:
[The bill] could return us to a time when people who were born with a birth defect or who became sick could not purchase or afford insurance. ... The discrimination, whether on price or just on the ability to access insurance at all on preexisting conditions, is unconscionable. As a country, we are better than that. (Via Kaiser Health News)
Manan Trivedi, president of National Physicians Alliance:
By stripping funding for vulnerable populations receiving Medicaid coverage, taking private coverage away from millions of families, and driving up costs for millions more this proposal continues to be very bad for our patients. However, this new version also allows states to opt out of protections by allowing insurers to charge higher premiums for those with pre-existing conditions and allowing insurers to provide low-quality coverage that does not include ‘essential health benefits’ — like hospitalization, mental health services, and maternity and newborn care.
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
They took a bad bill that would result in 24 million people losing their insurance and higher premiums and actually made it worse.
Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families:
Despite House Republicans’ false claims, their latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes the horrendous American Health Care Act even worse. Their outline of a proposed amendment guts the essential health benefits (EHB) and pushes health care out of reach for millions with pre-existing conditions — an especially devastating blow for women in this country.
This latest attempt to repeal the ACA is full of broken promises and deceptive rhetoric. While President Trump and leaders in Congress promised to protect health coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, this new plan undermines this critically important and wildly popular ACA provision.