Leaders from five medical groups — AAFP, ACP, AAP, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Osteopathic Association — met with United States Senators from both parties today to urge lawmakers to “maintain affordable and meaningful” health care, according to a press release.
During the bipartisan meetings in Washington, D.C., the group strongly recommended that any changes to the health care system do not increase the number of uninsured, protect the individual and small group markets, as well as ensure a viable health care safety net, patient protections in the marketplace and sufficient premium assistance and cost-sharing reduction subsidies.
Members of the medical groups addressed how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped more people get insurance, adding that those who have insurance should be allowed to keep it.
“Prior to the ACA, 47 million Americans were uninsured. Within that group, 12.6 million women of childbearing age were uninsured — that means women went without preventive care, well-woman exams, contraceptive counseling and cancer screening, or prenatal care which helps ensure healthy pregnancies and healthy babies,” Thomas Gellhaus, MD, president of ACOG, said in the release. “Together, we urge Congress to retain these and other valuable patient protections, and not turn the clock back on women’s health.”
The group also stressed how any new legislation must keep health care costs low and access to it reasonable.
“Keeping the emphasis on primary and preventive care is the best prescription for the nation,” William Burke, DO, board trustee, American Osteopathic Association, said in the release. “Our collective organizations seek proposals that ensure Americans can receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time… at a cost that people can afford.”
The leaders also noted how several wellness programs have improved the health of many people and how such safety nets must be allowed to continue to ensure the well-being of all, particularly children.
“Right now, the coverage rate among children in the [United States] is at an historic high: 95%. Let me say that again: 95%,” Fernando Stein, MD, president of the AAP, said in the release. “The Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicaid and the [ACA] have worked together to make this possible. As pediatricians, we know that health coverage provides children across the country with access to services they need to thrive, including life-saving vaccinations and well-child check-ups.”
Removing current prohibitions against setting annual or lifetime benefit caps, denying or increasing premiums due to current or pre-existing conditions, eliminating coverage for essential evidence-based benefits that have been shown to improve health, and charging copayments, coinsurance or deductibles for covered preventive care, would be catastrophic, according to the group.
“Without health care insurance that guarantees coverage for current or pre-existing conditions, our patients would have little or no access to the physicians and the care they need. Complications from their chronic conditions set in, and a once-productive worker becomes disabled. Or their chronic heart disease or a reoccurrence of cancer becomes a death sentence,” John Meigs, Jr., MD, AAFP president, said in the release. “Without health insurance that covers pre-existing conditions, these scenarios could become reality for millions of Americans.”
The group also stressed that any changes to health care law must, at least, provide comparable assistance especially for lower-income persons who otherwise would be unable to afford coverage and services.
“Without the access they’ve gained through the federal subsidies that help them afford the premiums and deductibles charged by commercial insurers, or the access they’ve gained through the expansions in my state’s Medicaid program, many of [my] patients would delay or forgo care, leading to potentially serious health consequences,” Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, MACP, president of ACP, said in the release. “We urge Congress to first, do no harm to my patients by rolling back the positive gains we’ve seen in people’s ability to seek health care and have access to care that translates into a healthy life.”
Concerns over the ACA are one of many issues health care organizations have with the current administration and congressional leadership. Many of these same groups have also expressed serious concern about President Donald J. Trump’s travel ban on immigrants, saying the president’s action could have dire consequences on medical education, access to health care services, public health and families.
Disclosures: Gellhaus is with ACOG, Burke is with AOA, Meigs is with AAFP, Stein is with AAP and Damle is with ACP.
Further reading: http://www.aafp.org/media-center/releases-statements/all/2017/protect-patient-access-to-care.html