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The latest Senate Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and enact sweeping reforms to the American health care system has generated intense opposition from the very health care providers, patient groups and insurance companies that would be forced to adapt to the changes envisioned by the legislation.
The bill, sponsored by GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, would undo most of the Affordable Care Act and radically refashion the Medicaid program by shrinking the budgets for federal health care programs and turning over the remaining money to states, which would have to devise their own new health care systems.
The bill also undermines the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The results would be millions fewer people with health coverage. The Senate is slated to vote on the bill next week.
The health care sector is, to put it mildly, not interested. The following are excerpts from statements issued by virtually every major organization representing the interests of the health care system and its patients.
American Medical Association
“On behalf of the physician and medical student members of the American Medical Association (AMA), I am writing to express our opposition to the Cassidy-Graham-Heller-Johnson Amendment to H.R. 1628, the ‘American Health Care Act of 2017.’ We also urge the Senate to reject any other legislative efforts that would jeopardize health insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans.”
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
American College of Physicians
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Osteopathic Association
American Psychiatric Association
“The undersigned organizations are concerned with the proposal introduced today by Senators Cassidy and Graham, which we believe will have a negative impact on affordable coverage for patients across our nation. We would note that a similar proposal was put forth by these two Senators in July. Based on our analysis, the revised proposal may actually be worse than the original.
“Our organizations, which represent over 560,000 physicians, oppose the new Graham-Cassidy bill and its approach to reforming our health care system. The proposal fails to protect the health care coverage and consumer protections available under current law. Additionally, it would create a health care system built on state-by-state variability that would exacerbate inequities in coverage and most likely place millions of vulnerable individuals at risk of losing their health care coverage.”
American College of Physicians
“We believe that the substantial cuts to Medicaid authorized by this legislation would cause a significant increase in the number of uninsured patients and that it would undermine essential benefits provided for patients insured under current law. We urge you to set aside this legislation and instead allow the Senate to consider any improvements to the ACA, through a more deliberative process of regular order, in which hearings are held to solicit the advice of health care experts and stakeholders, with any such improvements considered in a bipartisan manner in which both parties may offer amendments.”
National Council for Behavioral Health
“Last week, the ugly health care debate reared its head again on Capitol Hill with the introduction of a new bill by Senators Graham (R-SC), Cassidy (R-LA), Heller (R-NV) and Johnson (R-WI) to drastically cut Medicaid and other federal health funds to states.
“This bill may go by a different name than previous efforts to reshape the health care system, but it maintains ― and even worsens ― the devastating provisions from those bills that led to a massive constituent outcry earlier this summer. It’s the same pig with different lipstick.”
American Hospital Association
“We believe that coverage could be at risk for tens of millions of Americans under the Graham-Cassidy proposal. We continue to urge senators to work in a bipartisan manner to address the challenges facing our health care system.
“This proposal would erode key protections for patients and consumers and does nothing to stabilize the insurance market now or in the long term. In addition, the block grant to provide support for the expansion population expires in 2026, thereby eliminating coverage for millions of Americans.
“For these reasons, we oppose the Graham-Cassidy plan.”
Federation of American Hospitals
“The Graham-Cassidy proposal could disrupt access to health care for millions of the more than 70 million Americans who depend on Medicaid and the marketplaces for their health coverage.
“It is time to move on to secure the health coverage for those who have it, and find solutions for those who don’t.
“We urge the Senate to reject legislation that fails to move us forward in assuring Americans access to affordable health care and coverage.”
Children’s Hospital Association
“The nation’s children’s hospitals stand in strong opposition to the most recent legislative proposal introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis. Their legislation would slash funding for Medicaid, the nation’s largest health care program for children, by one-third, reducing access and coverage for more than 30 million children in the program. Furthermore, the legislation weakens important consumer safeguards, and as a result, millions of children in working families would no longer be assured that their private insurance covers the most basic of services without annual and lifetime limits and regardless of any underlying medical condition. This bill would have devastating consequences for children and families.”
Catholic Health Association of the United States
“The Senate is expected to vote next week on legislation introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) & Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and restructure the Medicaid program.
“I urge you to contact your Senators today and tell them to:
“Vote ‘NO’ on the Graham-Cassidy
legislation to repeal and replace ACA—which eliminates Medicaid
expansion coverage, premium tax credits, and cost-sharing reduction
subsidies and replaces them with state block grants.
“Oppose the complete restructuring
and deep funding reductions to the Medicaid program in the bill —
capping & cutting federal Medicaid funding, through both per capita
caps and block grants, fundamentally undermines the health care safety
net and our ability to serve beneficiaries.
“Instead enact bipartisan legislation to stabilize the individual insurance market.”
Association of American Medical Colleges
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has continually advocated for a number of key principles as fundamental cornerstones of any successful health care system. These principles include offering high-quality, affordable health insurance to all; preserving and fortifying the safety net through Medicaid and other policies; and encouraging innovation in the delivery system, among others. The GCHJ legislation does not meet these principles, as it repeals the individual and employer mandates, repeals Medicaid expansion, and caps traditional Medicaid funding. Under this legislation, the number of uninsured patients nationwide will increase dramatically and important existing patient protections will be at risk. Importantly, the GCHJ proposal, which represents a complete overhaul of the health care system, should be fully and adequately examined by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) before any further action is taken.”
America’s Essential Hospitals
“Throughout this year’s health care debate, America’s Essential Hospitals stood by its position that policy changes must maintain coverage for those who have it, preserve access, and protect hospitals that care for low-income and other vulnerable people.
“While we do not yet have a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score for the Graham-Cassidy proposal, the plan appears to violate those core principles.”
American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living
“There is no question that this bill will undermine care for vulnerable seniors and individuals with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for their daily long term care. Most of the one million people who reside in nursing centers rely on Medicaid, as well as tens of thousands of seniors in America’s assisted living communities.
“As Baby Boomers increasingly need long term services and supports in coming years, our seniors deserve better than an unstable and underfunded safety net. We urge Senators to oppose this legislation and protect Medicaid access for seniors and people with disabilities.”
America’s Health Insurance Plans
“We believe that legislative proposals that would reform and affect the coverage and care of millions of Americans should meet certain principles….
“The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal fails to meet these guiding principles, and would have real consequences on consumers and patients by further destabilizing the individual market; cutting Medicaid; pulling back on protections for pre-existing conditions; not ending taxes on health insurance premiums and benefits; and potentially allowing government-controlled, single payer health care to grow.
“While we cannot support this proposal, we will keep working to find the right solutions that reflect the commitment we all share: affordable coverage and high-quality care for every American. By working together, we can improve health care and deliver the coverage and care that every American deserves.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
“Although we support providing states with greater flexibility in shaping health care options for their residents, we share the significant concerns of many health care organizations about the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill. The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions. The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans. Legislation must also ensure adequate funding for Medicaid to protect the most vulnerable.”
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Lutheran Services in America
March of Dimes
National Health Council
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Organization for Rare Diseases
Volunteers of America
“Sixteen patient and provider groups oppose the proposal put forward by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that will negatively impact patients’ access to adequate and affordable health coverage and care.
“This bill would limit funding for the Medicaid program, roll back important essential health benefit protections, and potentially open the door to annual and lifetime caps on coverage, endangering access to critical care for millions of Americans. Our organizations urge senators to oppose this legislation.
“Affordable, adequate care is vital to the patients we represent. This legislation fails to provide Americans with what they need to maintain their health.”
“Older Americans care deeply about access to and affordability of health care. They need and deserve affordable premiums, lower out-of-pocket costs, and coverage they can count on as they age. On behalf of our nearly 38 million members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP is urging the Senate to reject the Graham/Cassidy/Heller/Johnson bill because it would do precisely the opposite. Overall, the Graham/Cassidy/Heller/Johnson bill would increase health care costs for older Americans with an age tax, decrease coverage, and undermine preexisting condition protections. In addition, this bill would jeopardize the ability of older Americans and people with disabilities to stay in their own homes as they age and threaten coverage for individuals in nursing homes.”
“While this piece of legislation has a new title and makes new promises, it is more of the same threats to Medicaid and those who rely on it for a life in the community. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal cuts and caps the Medicaid program. The loss of federal funding is a serious threat to people with disabilities and their families who rely on Medicaid for community based supports.”
“Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, today strongly opposed the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal, the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This bill would leave tens of millions uninsured and fundamentally restructure and gut the Medicaid program. It would also allow states to waive key consumer protections and coverage requirements….
Consumers Union urged lawmakers to reject this latest partisan proposal and stay focused on bipartisan efforts in Senate committees to stabilize and strengthen the insurance markets.”