Immediately after the House of Representatives voted narrowly today to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the AAFP turned its attention to working with the Senate on finding ways to improve the nation's health care system.
The AAFP, as part of a coalition with five other national physician organizations, had earlier pointed out that the AHCA failed to address the changes that are needed in the current health care law -- even with recent compromises legislators had made.
AAFP President John Meigs, M.D., of Centreville, Ala., issued a statement this afternoon to express the Academy's deep disappointment with representatives who voted for the AHCA.
"This legislation will harm millions of their constituents," Meigs said. "It will destabilize our health care system, cause 24 million Americans to lose their coverage, and allow for discrimination against patients based on their gender, age and health status."
The AHCA includes substantial spending cuts that would reduce Medicaid expansion. It also threatens to increase the cost of health care for older patients and would allow for gender-rating by enabling states to opt out of requiring maternity care coverage to be offered in many health plans.
In addition, the legislation allows insurers to cap benefits and could force individuals with chronic conditions into high-risk state insurance pools that would not be sufficiently funded by federal earmarks.
"Its inadequate and temporary high-risk pool funds are simply a Band-Aid that does nothing to provide health security to the nearly one in three Americans who have a pre-existing condition," Meigs said.
Now the AAFP will press the Senate to scrap the flaws in the current legislation and implement fixes that the U.S. health care system really needs, such as emphasizing preventive care, reducing pharmaceutical costs, reforming liability laws and reducing the administrative burden that physicians face.
"We will continue to work with the U.S. Senate to develop policies that guarantee affordable care and coverage, that stabilize the individual insurance market, and that ensure health security for all Americans regardless of their age, gender, or current or past health history," Meigs said.