James L. Madara, MD, chief executive and executive vice president of the American Medical Association (AMA) wrote a letter to Congressional leaders refusing to support the new Republican bill.
“The American Health Care Act (AHCA), released by Congress this week, is intended to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But as introduced, it does not align with the health reform objectives that the AMA set forth in January to protect patients,” the organization noted in a statement.
“While the ACA is imperfect, the current version of the AHCA is not legislation we can support,” the group added.
The replacement bill, as written, would reverse the coverage gains achieved under the ACA, causing many Americans to lose the health care coverage they have come to depend upon, it stated.
In the letter, Madara said proposed changes to Medicaid would limit states; ability to respond to changes in service demands and threaten coverage for people with low incomes.
Madara also noted that the proposed changes in tax credits and subsidies to help patients purchase private health insurance coverage are expected to result in fewer Americans with insurance coverage.
So far the total impact of the bill is unknown. Republicans rushed it out before the Congressional Budget Office (CB0) could review it.
S&P Global Ratings, however, estimates that as many as 10 million Americans could lose coverage if this bill becomes law.
Of those, two million to four million people who purchased coverage in the individual health exchanges under the ACA would be affect. Another four million to six million would lose coverage under Medicaid.
That just won’t do, Madara asserted.
“We all know that our health system is highly complex, but our core commitment to the patients most in need should be straightforward,” he added.
“As the AMA has previously stated, members of Congress must keep top of mind the potentially life-altering impact their policy decisions will have.”
“We physicians often see patients at their most vulnerable, from the first time they set eyes on a newborn child to the last time they squeeze a dying loved one’s hand.”
“We don’t want to see any of our patients, now insured, exposed to the financial and medical uncertainties that would come with losing that coverage.”
A number of Capitol Hill lawmakers have pronounced the bill D.O.A., or Dead on Arrival, if for different reasons.
The letter was addressed to Rep. Kevin Brady, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Rep, Greg Walden, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and ranking members of the committees respectively, Richard Neal and Frank Pallone.
Republican supports have touted the bill, claiming it will bring doctors and patients closer together. But that appears to be an empty promise.