As Congress contemplates a slate of legislation that would address pre-existing conditions, availability of generic drugs and consumer costs, the Academy is voicing its support for seven bills now in the House.
In a March 27 letter(2 page PDF) to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health, the AAFP called on lawmakers to preserve crucial safeguards in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to halt the administration's process of allowing states to forgo certain parts of the ACA by passing three bills that would ensure comprehensive and affordable care.
The letter, signed by Board Chair Michael Munger, M.D., of Overland Park, Kan., also said that an additional four bills could "increase access to prescription medications through enhanced market competition" -- an outcome in line with AAFP priorities.
Noting that family physicians' patients should have access to both health insurance and a consistent source of primary care, the Academy urged the subcommittee to pass:
- H.R. 986,(www.congress.gov) the Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act;
- H.R. 1010,(www.congress.gov) which would prohibit the expansion of short-term, limited-duration insurance plans; and
- H.R. 1143,(www.congress.gov) the Educating Consumers on the Risks of Short-Term Plans Act.
In correspondence throughout the past year, the Academy has made the case that the combination of a weakened ACA and expanded waivers for short-term, limited-duration insurance plans would fragment the marketplace and jeopardize family physicians' patients.
Ahead of debating the bills, the subcommittee recently examined(energycommerce.house.gov) the potential negative effects of a weakened ACA on patients with pre-existing conditions. This month, however, the Trump administration raised the stakes by pushing Texas et al. v. United States et al.(www.texasattorneygeneral.gov) -- a 2018 lawsuit brought by 20 state attorneys general seeking to strike down the ACA -- into a higher gear.(www.healthaffairs.org)
"Access to primary care helps increase access to high-quality and lower-cost care by encouraging preventive health, access to acute care, early identification of chronic disease, and disease management," the Academy's March 27 letter said. "The benefits of primary care access are realized at the individual, health system and community levels. Therefore, it is imperative to maintain the ACA's state and federal partnerships, and consumer protections."
The correspondence reinforced a March 13 letter(3 page PDF) from the Academy to the same subcommittee, which advised that four proposed bills the AAFP favored "would increase access to generic drugs through enhanced market competition" and reflect the Academy's priorities.
"Family physicians have a meaningful interest in the drug pricing debate, in part, because of the complexity of care they provide and the fact that the number and intricacy of conditions, complaints and diseases seen in family medicine is far greater(www.hindawi.com) than those seen by any other physician specialty," the Academy wrote in the earlier letter.
The four bills cited in this letter would make generic drugs more available by preventing pharmaceutical companies from using safety protocols to prevent generic manufacture, and by curtailing so-called "pay for delay"(www.ftc.gov) agreements. They are:
- H.R. 938,(www.congress.gov) the Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act;
- H.R. 965,(www.congress.gov) the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act;
- H.R. 985,(www.congress.gov) the Fair Access for Safety and Timely (FAST) Generics Act; and
- H.R. 1499,(www.congress.gov) the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act.
The seven bills supported by the Academy are among a dozen health care measures now under consideration in the House,(docs.house.gov) some of which were approved by the subcommittee on March 27.(energycommerce.house.gov)
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