9 healthcare leaders react to new GOP bill

Senate Republicans released the latest version of their Better Care Reconciliation Act Thursday.

Reactions of nine healthcare leaders to the new draft of the bill are listed below.

American Medical Association President David O. Barbe, MD, said that the new version of the bill did not alleviate his concerns regarding Medicaid funding, though there were slight improvements from previous drafts.

"The additional funding to address the opioid epidemic is a positive step, however, those suffering from substance use disorder have other healthcare needs that are not likely to be addressed if they lose coverage through a rollback of the Medicaid expansion. While stabilizing the individual market is an initial step, more bipartisan collaboration is needed in the months ahead to improve the delivery and financing of healthcare."

American Association of Medical Colleges President and CEO Darrel G. Kirch, MD, said the bill falls "woefully short" of providing Americans with quality health coverage.

"The changes do nothing to address provisions that would cripple Medicaid and put added financial pressure on state budgets and healthcare providers. Additionally, allowing insurers to sell plans without meaningful coverage will hurt those with preexisting conditions and further destabilize insurance markets. Finally, providing time-limited money to help individuals purchase insurance does not give patients the long-term health security they need."

Ibis Reproductive Health Vice President for Development and Public Affairs Britt Wahlin expressed serious concerns about how the bill would affect women's reproductive health.

"The elimination of the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive coverage mandate would be a severe blow to women's autonomy over their own reproductive health and a step in the wrong direction. We should be increasing access to birth control, not limiting it. True access to contraception means affordability: Birth control must be covered by insurance, whether it is prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist or sold over the counter."

Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania President and CEO Andy Carter does not view the new version of the bill is an upgrade from previous drafts.

"More than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians have benefited from coverage and improved health as a result of the Affordable Care Act; this plan jeopardizes these gains and weakens the Medicaid program. This proposal will undermine the health of Pennsylvania patients, hurt our economy and jeopardize healthcare jobs and services. We urge the Senate to reconsider this fundamentally flawed policy and protect Pennsylvania's health and healthcare."

HealthPocket.com Head of Research and Data Kev Coleman raised questions about the benefit requirements for non-ACA insurance benefits.

"Prior to the implementation of the ACA, 'individual and family' private health insurance covered doctor/specialist visits, lab tests, preventive care, hospitalization, emergency care and most included prescription drug coverage. Will these pre-ACA plans return to the market or will states look to new benefit configurations in order to make insurance premiums more affordable?"

Healthcare Association of New York State President Bea Grause expressed extreme opposition to the plan.

"The new version of BCRA…is no improvement. It's a race to the bottom on coverage and consumer protections. It fails to meet our basic standard: Any ACA replacement plan should include healthcare coverage that is at least as expansive as under the ACA. The deep Medicaid cuts and restructuring in this bill would undermine the healthcare system and jeopardize access to needed care."

America's Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, called the new version of the BCRA "unacceptable."

"Making a bad bill worse, the Senate added measures that would destabilize the private market by creating a two-tiered system that funnels the sick and others most in need of affordable coverage into the highest-cost plans. The bill's attempts to placate critics represent nothing more than token efforts."

Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Willie Parker, MD, believes that the bill will cause "sweeping" harm.

"This latest bill still does nothing that would keep women and their families healthy, like covering all reproductive health services: preventive services, contraception, abortion and maternity care. It will dramatically reduce coverage access for low-income women, people of color, children, the elderly and people with disabilities, virtually placing coverage completely out of their reach. Millions more will end up uninsured. Our nation deserves better than a bill that compromises the people's health."

Tennessee Hospital Association President Craig Becker noted that the bill is slightly improved from its previous versions, but that it is still far from perfect. 

"Based on our initial understanding of the revised proposal, THA remains opposed to the BCRA. We maintain this position due to the dramatic long-term cuts and structural changes to federal Medicaid funding and the potential for new disruptions to the individual insurance market because of relaxed benefit requirements for insurers. The bill allows insurers to offer plans with limited benefits, which would undoubtedly throw the insurance marketplace into even greater turmoil and increase premiums for older, sicker Tennesseans."

This compilation is being updated on an ongoing basis. 

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