Eight groups representing patients, hospitals and physicians will step up efforts opposing the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act (AHCA) by holding events in four steps to “address shortcomings” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement plan.
The coalition includes the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, AARP, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and March of Dimes. Many of them had already opposed the bill before and after it passed the House in May.
“Improving the health of our nation means increasing access to high-quality, affordable health insurance coverage, which is why the reduction of coverage in the American Health Care Act is of grave concern,” said new AMA President David Barbe, MD. “We urge members of Congress to Protect Patients First and pursue a bipartisan approach to reforming our healthcare system. Patients continue to benefit from the gains in coverage and consumer protections achieved in recent years, and we oppose legislation that diminish these gains.”
Events are planned for four states: Colorado, Ohio, Nevada and West Virginia. Barbe will moderate a panel of patients and providers at the first event in Cleveland on June 15.
The groups are expected to lay out their argument against the AHCA in four areas:
1. The AHCA could make insurance unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions. The House version of the bill would allow states to waive community rating provisions of the ACA, opening the door for insurers to medically underwrite premiums for customers who go 63 days or more without coverage. The more moderate Senate Republican caucus has discussed removing that provision, drawing threats from conservatives in the House.
2. The AHCA would remove access to essential care. Another state waiver provision could remove the ACA’s required benefits from health plans, allowing skimpier plans where services like hospitalization and maternity care aren’t covered.
3. The AHCA wouldn’t protect those currently covered by Medicaid. $839 billion would be cut from the program over the next decade, along with an additional $610 billion in reductions in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. The AMA has said the transformation of Medicaid funding in a per-capita allotment or block grant would “limit healthcare delivery innovation.”
4. The AHCA would also impact employer-sponsored coverage. The groups said the legislation “would weaken caps on employers’ out-of-pocket costs” and rules banning insurers from imposing lifetime or annual limits on coverage.