Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder: 'Good' healthcare law 'will not come out of back room deals'

The House on Thursday postponed its vote on the American Health Care Act, the Republican proposed plan to replace the ACA, after House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump failed to reach consensus among members of the House's moderate and conservative groups, which both indicated they would vote no on the bill as is.

With only 22 "no" votes to spare, President Trump and Rep. Ryan have been working to rally support among both groups, whose opposition to the current bill is largely at odds with one another. After meeting with the House Freedom Caucus Thursday, President Trump agreed to eliminate the provision of the ACA that requires health plans to offer 10 essential health benefits, but that was not enough to appease the conservatives. After rescheduling the vote for Friday, President Trump sent senior officials to the capitol with a message: He's done tweaking the bill. If the House Republicans won't pass the bill, they will lose their opportunity to repeal the ACA and the president will move on to other legislative priorities.

Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of San Diego-based Scripps Health, said healthcare policy is too complex and affects too many people to be influenced by such political maneuvers. He urges the House not to rush a vote on the bill before lawmakers are confident in its ability to protect the healthcare gains achieved under the ACA.

"Healthcare is truly complicated and personal. If we hope to get this legislation right for the country, we should be working together across party lines and truly involving the experts — healthcare providers," he said in a statement to Becker's. "At some point for all of us, healthcare will become the most important thing in our life. That's why good legislation will not come out of back room deals and forcing a vote in a short period of time."

Instead, Mr. Van Gorder urges lawmakers to put their political differences aside and work together to arrive at a solution.

"It will only come from open dialogue, flexibility and compromise," he added. "Frankly, I hope we step back as a country and start the process again with an open mind. This is complex and important legislation. I'd rather see a slower process that gets it right rather than a fast process that gets it wrong. When this is over, I can only support legislation that improves access and coverage at a more affordable cost, and that includes providers as partners in the process."

If the bill passes in the House and moves to the Senate, Mr. Van Gorder says, "Legislation that is important to patients — future patients and healthcare providers — should be developed with those groups, not by those who really don't understand the downstream impact of those decisions."

"Let's develop something sustainable that's good for Americans and not just special interests," he added. 

Editor's note: This article was updated at 12:56 p.m. on March 24 to include additional statements from Mr. Van Gorder.

More articles on leadership:
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4 key questions on Medicaid, the economy and how hospitals are preparing for the AHCA
URMC CEO Dr. Mark Taubman: AHCA would have 'significant negative consequences'

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