American Hospital Assoc. 'cannot support AHCA in current form' — 5 thoughts from CEO Richard Pollack

While the House Republicans' American Health Care Act received an endorsement from President Donald Trump Tuesday, the legislation does not have support from the American Hospital Association nor its president and CEO, Richard Pollack. 

Here are five of the AHA's stances on the legislation based on Mr. Pollack's letter to members of the House, which is available in full here

Editor's note: To read 10 key points of the bill, see Becker's breakdown here. To #readthebill in full, as House Republicans are encouraging, download the 123-page document here

1. Congress should wait until the Congressional Budget Office scores the legislation before proceeding with formal consideration. This is the first issue Mr. Pollock mentions. Since the nonpartisan CBO has not yet scored the legislation, there is neither a cost estimate for the plan or how many Americans would gain or lose insurance under it.

2. Restructuring Medicaid will result in significant cuts to a program for "our most vulnerable populations" and a program that already pays providers "significantly less than the cost of providing care," Mr. Pollock wrote. The AHCA restructures Medicaid's federal funding to a per-capita cap opposed to the current open-ended federal entitlement. Instead of per-capita caps, Mr. Pollock said expanded use of waivers with appropriate safeguards can give states greater flexibility and simultaneously sustain Medicaid.

3. "We object to eliminating the funding from some sources, but leaving in reductions to payments for hospital services," Mr. Pollock wrote. The AHCA retains the ACA's reductions in payments to hospitals, even though it also contains provisions that would restructure Medicaid and the tax credits Americans use to buy health insurance. "If coverage is not maintained at the current level, those resources need to be returned to hospitals and health systems in order to provide services to what will likely be an increased number of uninsured Americans," he notes.

4. Behavioral health issues and the opioid epidemic will worsen if health coverage is eliminated or reduced. "We have already seen clear evidence of how expanded coverage is helping to address these high-priority needs," Mr. Pollock wrote.

5. While Mr. Pollock acknowledged healthcare reform is a lengthy process, he made it clear the AHA — which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals — does not support the ACA replacement today as it stands. "We ask Congress to protect our patients, and find ways to maintain coverage for as many Americans as possible. We look forward to continuing to work with the Congress and the Administration on ACA reform, but we cannot support The American Health Care Act in its current form," he concludes in his letter.

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