AAFP: Better Care Reconciliation Act Poses Serious Threat To Americans’ Health Security

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Statement attributable to:
John Meigs, Jr., MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

"The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 reflects many of the same flawed concepts that are in the American Health Care Act. In many ways, it poses a graver threat to millions of Americans, particularly children, people with disabilities and older Americans.

“The bill would phase out the Medicaid expansion and cap the federal commitment, ultimately starving this vital program of federal funds needed to provide meaningful coverage to vulnerable beneficiaries and shifting insurance risk entirely to the states. It does so by limiting Medicaid funding to the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers, which has grown by an average of 1.7 percent since 2007, rather than the increase in medical costs, which has grown at nearly twice that rate -- an average of 3.3 percent from 2007 to 2016. With time, federal Medicaid payments to states will fall, greatly eroding their ability to provide comprehensive, high-quality services to the most vulnerable Americans who depend on Medicaid for access to necessary care.

“The possible damage goes deeper, because the bill allows states to opt out of important consumer protections that prevent discrimination against patients based on their gender, age and health status. Furthermore, states choosing to opt out would no longer be required to adhere to essential benefits such as prescription coverage, ambulance services or maternity care. Allowing annual and lifetime caps on benefits diminishes the value of every policy sold in the future.

“This bill’s tax credits, although better than those of the AHCA, still do little to help low-to-middle-income families with increasing premiums and deductibles.

“This legislation would have a profoundly negative impact on Americans. The AAFP urges the Senate to reject this path and this policy. There are countless improvements that need to be made to our health care system, and the AAFP stands ready to work with Congress on identifying and implementing those improvements. But, we cannot and will not support a bill that will cause harm to millions of patients.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Meigs, contact Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 6252, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.  To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).