Groups Push for Deliberative Approach to Improving Health Law

AAFP, Other Coalition Members Caution Against Risking Health Coverage for Millions

September 18, 2017 02:04 pm News Staff

As the Senate considers a new proposal to repeal major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the AAFP and other physician organizations are voicing their strong opposition to efforts to rush it through the legislative process without due deliberation.  

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In a Sept. 13 letter(2 page PDF) sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y, the organizations -- the AAFP, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Osteopathic Association, and American Psychiatric Association -- detailed their concerns about the proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La. The two senators had introduced a similar measure in July.

The new effort would terminate Medicaid expansion, premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments, all of which have helped patients obtain and keep coverage. Under the proposal, funding would be provided to the states as block grants.

The letter highlighted the importance of continued expansion of access to care and coverage and warned legislators about the consequences of suddenly repealing major parts of the ACA.

"Based on our analysis, the revised proposal may actually be worse than the original," the letter stated. "The proposal fails to protect the health care coverage and consumer protections available under current law. Additionally, it would create a health care system built on state-by-state variability that would exacerbate inequities in coverage and most likely place millions of vulnerable individuals at risk of losing their health care coverage."

The letter noted that a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau indicated the rate of uninsured individuals dropped to a historic low of 8.8 percent in 2016, marking three straight years of decline.

"We should be celebrating this accomplishment and seeking ways to extend health care coverage to those who still lack it -- not pursuing legislation that would drive up the number of uninsured," the letter stated.

The organizations urged legislators to make improvements to existing law -- such as reducing the cost of care, increasing insurance competition and stabilizing the insurance marketplaces -- through the regular process of public hearings and debate. They emphasized that the best way to build on health coverage gains that have already been made is through bipartisan efforts, not by rushing a vote on repeal.

"Especially given how disruptive and harmful the Graham/Cassidy proposal will be for patients, we oppose any effort to try to rush it through the legislative process so a vote can occur before the current reconciliation measure expires on Oct. 1," the letter stated.

The organizations concluded by telling the senators that they are providing the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions with detailed recommendations(www.acponline.org)  for improving the current health care law and offering their continued assistance.

Related AAFP News Coverage
AAFP Recommends Bipartisan Fixes for Health Care System
(7/18/2017)

Broad Physician Coalition Pushes Senate for Better Health Legislation
AAFP Joins Conversations With Senators to Emphasize Importance of Preserving Health Coverage

(7/14/2017)

Brookings Institution Forum
Panel Examines What Works, What Doesn't in ACA Marketplaces

(2/14/2017)