Healthcare groups react to GOP's latest repeal, replace amendment

Republicans recently revealed a new amendment to the American Health Care Act, offered by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.

Here are four reactions from healthcare groups.

Diane Horvath-Cosper, MD, advocacy fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, spoke out against the overall healthcare bill — including the Upton amendment — in an emailed statement.

"This new proposed ACA repeal bill ... will still put comprehensive reproductive healthcare out of reach for millions of women, especially low-income women, by attacking Medicaid, Planned Parenthood and abortion coverage. On top of that, this new bill goes further by allowing states to opt out of providing protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, making premiums impossibly out of reach for these patients," she said.

Andrew Gurman, MD, president of the American Medical Association, issued a statement indicating the group's opposition to the proposed changes.

"None of the legislative tweaks under consideration changes the serious harm to patients and the healthcare delivery system if AHCA passes," he said. "Proposed changes to the bill tinker at the edges without remedying the fundamental failing of the bill — that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance as a direct result of this proposal."

Darrell Kirch, MD, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, in a statement expressed concerns about access to affordable coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

"As drafted, the AHCA would allow states to waive current protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions who have a gap in coverage, leaving them vulnerable to insurers who may charge higher premiums based on their more fragile health status," he said. "The amendment appears to offer little relief for these skyrocketing costs for the sick; what relief it would provide is impossible for any patient or family to predict. A modest amount of new funding may incrementally reduce premiums for those with pre-existing conditions, but only for five years. Patients will still be at risk, leaving those with cancer, congenital heart conditions, mental illness or other needs with access to coverage they cannot afford."

Margaret Murray, CEO of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, also expressed concerns about the AHCA.

“The American Health Care Act is a bill that, if enacted, would cause considerable damage to our healthcare system," she said in an emailed statement. "This bill cuts Medicaid by four-fifths of a trillion dollars and phases out the enhanced federal funding match for the Medicaid expansion. It will severely limit access to services for the more than 70 million people who rely on Medicaid for effective health coverage – and locks states’ funding to what they spent on Medicaid in 2016. If history is any guide, at some point states will be faced with a choice between denying care to people who need it, or blowing a hole in their budget."

Bruce Siegel, MD, president and CEO of America's Essential Hospitals, in a statement said the amendment "applies a bandage to a mortally wounded patient."

"The amendment changes in no material way the harm this bill would cause. It strains credibility to suggest that $8 billion over five years for millions of sick Americans solves the pre-existing conditions dilemma. Our experience with high-risk pools finds them often underfunded and unable to stabilize insurance markets," he said.



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