Dr. Atul Gawande on the AHCA: 'We've made huge progress, we should be making more'

Boston-based Brigham and Women's cancer surgeon Atul Gawande, MD, was critical of the American Health Care Act in an interview with NPR's Robert Siegel.

"Trump has said his aim is better coverage than the ACA, at lower cost. If that were where it was going, then it would likely protect the people that unexpectedly come in to see me," Dr. Gawande told Mr. Siegel. "But that is in conflict with this other goal that Republicans have, which is to actually dismantle the ACA and its funding."

Dr. Gawande, who is based in Massachusetts, previously practiced under "Romneycare," a precursor to the ACA that passed in 2006. He told NPR since Romneycare and the ACA passed, the 10 to 15 percent of patients who didn't have insurance coverage have disappeared. "I haven't taken care of an uninsured patient in years," Dr. Gawande said.

However, the system is still not perfect, according to Dr. Gawande. People who buy health coverage on the exchanges often still struggle to meet their deductibles.

"The kinds of things I used to have to think about were right from the screening phone call of who could come in. Now, that hasn't completely disappeared. Now I'm in the realms of, 'Does your network actually cover you to see me?'" He added, "Those kinds of problems are still there, but it's a radically different problem from the one where we were. We've made huge progress, we should be making more."

Dr. Gawande suggested the first fix should be adding supports and incentives to get more young, healthy people enrolled in insurance to flatten premiums.

Listen to the full interview here.

 

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