Healthcare weighs in on BCRA failure: 6 reactions

The Senate GOP's revised Better Care Reconciliation Act stalled indefinitely Monday evening after two more Republican senators defected from the bill. With the bill dead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has proposed a full ACA repeal strategy that involves repealing the ACA and initiating a two-year delay.

Here are six reactions from the healthcare industry, provided via emailed statements.

American Medical Association President David Barbe, MD, stressed that the debate over healthcare reform is ongoing, and said a collaborative process must commence among lawmakers "that produces a bipartisan approach to improve healthcare in our country."

"The status quo is unacceptable. Near-term action is needed to stabilize the individual/nongroup health insurance marketplace. In the long term, stakeholders and policymakers need to address the unsustainable trends in health care costs while achieving meaningful, affordable coverage for all Americans. The American Medical Association is ready to work on short- and long-term solutions."

American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack called for "protect[ing] care for patients."

"This [consistent call from the organization] is grounded in the belief that coverage must be preserved for all who currently have it. Repeal without any effort to replace would leave millions of patients at risk during their most vulnerable times. We have urged Congress to consider advancing solutions aimed at making our healthcare system stronger, protecting access and coverage, and exploring new delivery system reforms that have the potential to make care both more affordable and safer. Our hope is that the Senate will use this opportunity to regroup and work in a bipartisan manner to make the much-needed repairs and refinements, creating a healthcare system that can stand the test of time. We ask Congress to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program and vital rural health programs and stabilize the health insurance marketplaces by funding the cost-sharing reduction payments."

Association of American Medical Colleges President and CEO Darrell Kirch, MD, said his organization has maintained that an ACA repeal "must be accompanied by a simultaneous replacement that provides at least comparable healthcare coverage."

"Patients — particularly those with complex conditions — require stability and continuity in their care. Without access to affordable meaningful coverage, many would forego or delay necessary medical care. This puts millions of Americans, including the most vulnerable patients, at risk. Any healthcare reform legislation must put patients first by maintaining or improving current levels of coverage."

America's Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, said his organization welcomes the BCRA failure.

"We hope lawmakers seize on this opportunity to bring all stakeholders to the table and develop a plan to protect coverage for everyone — especially those in greatest need. The newly surfaced plan to repeal the ACA's core provisions with a two-year delay is not the way to protect coverage and almost certainly would jeopardize care for people who face financial hardships."

He added, "The repeal-and-delay strategy would leave millions of lives in limbo and create uncertainty that would destabilize insurance markets and paralyze hospitals and other providers. Needed improvements and expansion of services would stall without a clear path forward, threatening access in communities across the country. Insurers might abandon the ACA marketplace, further degrading access."

Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Willie Parker, MD, hopes congressional leaders realize " it is time to cease efforts to destroy what is a literal lifeline for millions of Americans."

"It's time to stop inventing ways to deny people the right to affordable, comprehensive health care. It's time to stop targeting women's healthcare via making it more expensive and finding new ways to restrict care. It's time to start treating abortion care as what is it is: a part of comprehensive healthcare that should be covered by all forms of insurance, including public insurance. It's time to listen to evidence: birth control without extra copays has helped patients be healthier and thrive, access to preventive care saves lives, and comprehensive sex education and resources work. It's time for healthcare equity for all. It's time to stop attacking Medicaid, one of the most successful health care programs in our country's history. It's time to close the gap between Americans who have healthcare and those who don't. In short, repeal of the ACA is an idea whose time will never come."

Catholic Health Association of the United States President and CEO Sister Carol Keehan penned a letter to senators.

"On behalf of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the national leadership organization of more than 2,000 Catholic healthcare systems, hospitals, long-term care facilities, sponsors, and related organizations, I strongly urge you to start anew in an open dialogue and bipartisan effort to improve healthcare coverage in our country. We believe that this moment calls for statesmanship on the part of both political parties to work together to make the improvements in our healthcare system that will stabilize the individual insurance market, improve affordability, and strengthen and expand the coverage gains already achieved."


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