Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics

Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics

March 17, 2017
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AMA, ACS, AHA, ADA to Congress: Slow down, reconsider AHCA

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At a recent National Press Club event, the AMA, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association expressed concerns regarding President Donald J. Trump’s proposed health care law, the American Health Care Act. The groups emphasized the negative impact the act will have on millions of Americans, particularly those with chronic health conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that projected the American Health Care Act (AHCA) will cause millions of Americans to lose vital access to health care — as many as 14 million within the first year, with the total number of uninsured climbing to 52 million by 2026.

“As Congress prepares to vote on legislation with life-altering consequences for patients, we urge the House and Senate to keep in mind that the numbers in the CBO analysis involve children, the elderly, the disabled, those battling mental health issues, addiction, chronic disease, cancer, as well as low- and moderate- income families,” Andrew W. Gurman, MD, president of AMA said at the event. “We have repeatedly heard statements pledging to ‘not pull the rug out from under people.’ The analysis by CBO and other organizations indicates otherwise in stark terms and on multiple levels. As physicians from across the country and on the front lines, we urge the House and Senate to go back to the drawing board to develop alternative policies to provide coverage, choice and affordable health care.”

Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said early detection and prevention measures for unexpected illnesses, such as cancer, were safeguarded through Medicare expansion; consequently, transferring the funding burden to states with strained budgets could leave vulnerable individuals without affordable coverage.

“Evidence shows that lack of health insurance has a direct impact on our ability to save lives from cancer,” he said.

The AHCA in its current condition will limit funding for innovative diabetes prevention programs, will weaken the existing tax credit structure that allows for affordable care and will reduce access to Medicaid coverage, according to Kevin L. Hagan, chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Diabetes Association.

“This legislation may lower premiums for people in good health, however, it will increase costs and have a significantly negative impact on people living with diabetes,” he added.

In addition, those with cardiovascular diseases will be adversely affected by the proposed legislation, according to Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.

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“Under the Republicans’ [Affordable Care Act] ACA repeal plan, too many Americans struggling with the burden of heart disease and stroke will now have another worry to deal with — can they continue to obtain and afford the quality health care they deserve?” she said. “Over the next 2 decades, nearly half of the U.S. population will be dealing with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions and our health insurance system must be fine-tuned constantly to ensure affordable, accessible coverage for both those who desperately need it today and in the future. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this bill does not accomplish this goal.”

The release of the AHCA, has drawn wide-spread criticisms from health care organizations that have issued statements that oppose the bill, with the ACP calling it “unacceptable,” the American Family of Physicians citing “significant concerns” and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics emphasizing its detrimental effects.

“The proposal set forth in the AHCA not only fails to improve the health of all Americans, but it will worsen patient care and public health by removing vital resources that are currently effective in improving health across the country,” Lucille Beseler, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, wrote in a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Although this legislation purports to provide access, it fails to make coverage more affordable; unaffordable access to coverage is really not coverage at all,” she added. “The proposal fails to maintain a core package of benefits that improve the health of Americans by removing a basic floor of services that should be provided without cost-sharing to the Medicaid population.” – by Alaina Tedesco

For more information:

www.ama-assn.org/patients-doctors-advocacy-groups-express-concerns-about-ahca

www.eatrightpro.org/resource/media/press-releases/public-policy/academy-announces-opposition-american-health-care-act

Disclosure: Healio Internal Medicine was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.