With another attempt at repealing the Affordable Care Act on hold, leaders of the AAFP, American College of Physicians and other medical groups are pleading with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to work together on health care reform.
“We urge the Senate and the House to move on, for good, from their efforts to roll back coverage,” the AAFP, American College of Physicians, AAP, American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Osteopathic Association and American Psychiatric Association said in a joint statement. “Instead Congress should strive for bipartisan agreement, through regular order, to make improvements to our health care system.”
A bill that has such bilateral support was introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) earlier this year. This plan would include funding for the cost-sharing reductions, stabilize individual health care markets and include greater flexibility for states in approving health insurance policies. Alexander said yesterday he would revisit some of these ideas.
There are other health care plans on the table, including the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act, that was introduced by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) earlier this year. This bill would lower premiums and create a permanent reinsurance program for the individual health insurance market like those used to lower premiums and increase competition in the Medicare Part D program. Similar to Alexander and Murray’s plan, it would help stabilize the individual health care marketplace, which has been a volatile subject on health care reform.
Though a timeframe for future health care discussions remains unclear, the AAFP, American College of Physicians and the other medical groups said certain decisions must be made right away.
“Immediately, we believe that Congress must do what they can to execute open enrollment in a good faith manner,” the statement read. “Millions of Americans remain unaware of the types of assistance available to help them afford and enroll in health insurance. Congress must adequately fund education and outreach efforts to tell consumers about the assistance available to them.”
Additionally, the medical groups urged Congress to move swiftly to extend federal funding for several health care safety net programs, which are set to expire on September 30.
“We call on Congress to take immediate action to enact a five-year extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in order to ensure that our patients have ongoing access to this crucial affordable and comprehensive coverage option,” the groups wrote. “Failure to extend funding would put health coverage for millions of children and pregnant women in jeopardy.”
These societies encouraged lawmakers to make them part of the health care discussion.
“We look forward to working with Congress on these immediate concerns and on other health care reforms that would improve and not harm the health of all Americans,” the groups stated. – by Janel Miller
Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.