AAFP, ACP, AMA, ACOG demand ‘do over’ in health care bill
Leaders of several medical societies, upon hearing the latest version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, said lawmakers need to go back to the drawing board on health care reform.
Yesterday, the Senate unveiled the revised plan, which includes cheaper, but stripped-down plans and new opioid treatment funding.
The AAFP, ACP, ACOG and AMA were among the societies expressing disapproval.
“The amended version of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act poses a grave threat to millions of Americans, particularly children, people with disabilities and older Americans,” AAFP president John J. Meigs Jr, MD, said in a statement, adding that this latest version is discriminatory and raises costs for those least able to absorb such increases.
“We continue to urge the Senate to reject this bill, and we stand ready to work with members of Congress to develop meaningful reforms and improvements to current law,” he said.
ACP president Jack Ende, MD, MACP, said in a statement that the organization offers the “strongest opposition possible” to the modified bill, because it will not preserve and improve essential coverage, benefits and consumer protections, and access to care for both currently insured and uninsured individuals, children and families.
He also said the proposed legislation, particularly the amendment that allows insurers to sell non-Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant health plans in a state as long as the insurer also offers ACA-compliant plans in that state, has the potential to be worse than previous versions of health care bills that would replace ACA.
"[The Better Care Reconciliation Act] would split the risk pool and create two markets, one where older and sicker individuals (with pre-existing conditions) would pay (or try to pay) for more expensive ACA-compliant policies, and the other where younger and healthier individuals purchase skimpier and cheaper, non-ACA compliant policies,” Ende said.
“We urge the Senate to set aside or vote down this legislation and instead start over...”
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also indicated the revised bill is no better than earlier versions to repeal and replace ACA, and if passed, would be taking a medical step backward.
“This most recent version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act is not ‘better’ for patients. The BCRA is deeply flawed, cannot be fixed and keeps getting worse,” Haywood Brown, MD, ACOG president said in a statement. “Its original version deliberately stripped landmark women’s health gains made by the [ACA], turning back the clock on women’s health. This new version threatens to leave patients with pre-existing conditions without care.”
Although the AMA applauded the new bill's provisions for additional funding for the opioid epidemic link and addressing individual market stabilization, other components have the group concerned.
“The revised bill does not address the key concerns of physicians and patients regarding proposed Medicaid cuts and inadequate subsidies that will result in millions of Americans losing health insurance coverage,” David O. Barbe, MD, AMA president, said in a statement.
Although Republicans have sought to “repeal and replace the ACA,” reports indicate that many have significant concerns about the modified bill. With Democrats unified in their opposition, only two Republican senators can vote against the bill for it to still pass.
The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release an analysis of the revised bill on Monday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has indicated he would like to vote on the bill next week. – by Janel Miller
Disclosure: Meigs is president of AAFP, Ende is president of ACP, Brown is president of ACOG and Barbe is president of AMA.