Reactions from health care & patient advocacy groups to House GOP’s Affordable Care Act replacement bill

Some of the nation’s top health care and patient advocacy organizations have condemned the passage of the American Health Care Act (or “Trumpcare”), a bill which, if enacted, would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”). House Republicans narrowly pushed through Trumpcare with a 217 to 213 vote on May 4, 2017.

Here are some of the reactions:

American Medical Association:

“The bill passed by the House today will result in millions of Americans losing access to quality, affordable health insurance and those with pre-existing health conditions face the possibility of going back to the time when insurers could charge them premiums that made access to coverage out of the question. Action is needed, however, to improve the current health care insurance system. The AMA urges the Senate and the Administration to work with physician, patient, hospital and other provider groups to craft bipartisan solutions so all American families can access affordable and meaningful coverage, while preserving the safety net for vulnerable populations.”

American Cancer Society:

“The bill passed by the U.S. House today risks placing millions of Americans into a system in which they could be unable to afford their health coverage.

“Allowing patients to be charged more for coverage based on their health status risks making pre-existing condition protections virtually meaningless. A return to medical underwriting, combined with seriously weakened standards for what constitutes good coverage through the erosion of Essential Health Benefits, sets up a situation whereby payers can cherry-pick their customers and leave patients with serious conditions like cancer with few if any affordable insurance options.

“High-risk pools have not historically been an adequate safety-net. These programs have been unsustainable and underfunded. High-risk pool enrollees were often charged unaffordable premiums—usually 150-200% higher than the average standard rate—and faced potentially long waiting periods and strict coverage limitations; circumstances that are unacceptable for cancer patients and survivors who need immediate treatment and consistent follow-up care.

“Additionally, it is unclear how weakening the essential health benefits standards will affect cancer patients’ access to new therapies and key patient protections like the cap on out-of-pocket costs and the prohibition of lifetime and annual limits, both of which are applied only to essential health benefits. This bill could seriously weaken these key protections, jeopardize access to new therapies and leave cancer patients—both in the individual and employer-based market—vulnerable to higher out-of-pocket costs.

“There is no denying that current law needs improvement, however focusing on lower premiums for healthy people at the expense of the millions of Americans with pre-existing health conditions, including more than 16 million cancer survivors, is wrong.”

American Diabetes Association:

“The American Diabetes Association (Association) is disappointed that today, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) legislation to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Association remains deeply concerned with the AHCA and has expressed our reservations throughout the rushed legislative process.

“The most alarming last minute changes to the bill will allow states to waive the requirement for essential health benefits and health status rating. Weakening these rules will give insurers the ability to charge people with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, higher prices. It will also allow insurers to deny people with diabetes coverage for the care and services they need to treat their disease.

“States that waive these protections would be required to set up a risk sharing program, which could include a high-risk pool. Historically, high-risk pools have resulted in higher premiums, long waiting lists and inadequate coverage.

“The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that up to 24 million people would lose their coverage should the AHCA become law. Access to adequate and affordable health care allows individuals to obtain the necessary medical services they require to manage their disease and prevent devastating complications. Thus, we are dismayed that the House passed a bill that will strip health insurance from millions of vulnerable Americans.

“The Association is also alarmed by the significantly weaker tax credits compared to current ACA tax credits; the proposed continuous coverage premium penalty; and the proposed changes to Medicaid under this bill.

“If the AHCA is enacted, each of these elements will have a devastating effect on people with diabetes and will negatively impact their ability to manage their disease. Finally, the legislation repeals the Prevention and Public Health Fund after 2018, eliminating almost 40 percent of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) chronic disease prevention and health promotion budget—a drastic step backwards for diabetes prevention.

American Heart Association:

“It’s extremely disappointing that today, members of the House of Representatives failed to stand up for America’s patients – particularly those who most rely on Congress’s strong leadership. For more than two decades, our Association has embraced the core belief and advocated that health care must be accessible, affordable and adequate for all Americans. It is inconceivable why the House majority would pass this bill since it does not meet these fundamental standards.

“The Affordable Care Act made it possible for 20 million more Americans to get quality health insurance coverage and, for the first time, provided guaranteed protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. This bill, on the other hand, seriously erodes these protections, including for patients suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD) – our nation’s no. 1 and most costly killer.

“For the patients we represent, comprehensive care can mean the difference between life and death. Healthcare is not a luxury item, it is a necessity. A recent Association study projected that nearly half of Americans will develop pre-existing CVD conditions by 2035, so it is all the more critical that access to reasonably priced, quality care is preserved and expanded, not diminished.

“Without a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), it is unclear how many people will lose their health insurance coverage under this bill or be forced to pay more for the same or less adequate care. However, if the CBO analysis of the last proposal is any indication, coverage for millions of Americans will be in jeopardy. This is a serious concern to the American Heart Association as CVD patients who lack adequate coverage have worse health outcomes than patients with insurance.

“This latest version of the bill does little to address other issues we had with the original legislation, including the shifting of Medicaid costs to states. For these reasons and more, the AHCA fails cardiovascular disease patients across the U.S and the Association strongly opposes the bill.”

American Lung Association:

“The American Health Care Act will harm patients with lung disease and lung cancer. The American Lung Association calls on the Senate to reject the American Health Care Act. Quality and affordable healthcare with key patient protections is necessary for the health and safety of the more than 32 million Americans living with lung disease.

“The bill passed today by the House of Representatives fails the millions of Americans living with lung and other serious diseases. It will leave far too many people without quality and affordable healthcare coverage, while at the same time, rolling back key safeguards that protect patients with pre-existing conditions. The bill also significantly weakens Medicaid.

“The American Health Care Act will also result in the elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which funds 12 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget.”

American Society of Clinical Oncology:

“ASCO strongly opposes the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as currently proposed, and urges a “No” vote on the bill in the House of Representatives because it does not meet our previously announced principles. We believe healthcare reform must ensure meaningful access to high-quality care for any American with cancer. Unfortunately, the AHCA proposal violates this aim by adding provisions that would increase costs, decrease access to appropriate treatment, and widen existing disparities in cancer care…

“We are concerned that provisions in this legislation would erode key protections for patient access to cancer care, including pre-existing condition safeguards, coverage for essential health benefits, and access to affordable health insurance. Removing these patient protections from federal law would lead to less patient access to cancer care in general and even greater disparities in access to care across state lines.

“When individuals with cancer do not have adequate health insurance coverage they receive late care, less of it, and have worse outcomes than those with better coverage. Uninsured and under-insured families facing a cancer diagnosis often report that they must forgo care to pay for other expenses. This bill, in its current form, will likely only worsen these barriers to life-extending care.

AIDS United:

“AIDS United denounces the House of Representatives for voting for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a bill which would set back efforts to end the HIV epidemic in favor of a hefty tax break for the wealthy.

“If the bill is signed into law millions of Americans, including people living with HIV, may find themselves priced out of coverage and discriminated against for their age, gender or pre-existing conditions.

“The AHCA, if passed, would end the Medicaid expansion, end Medicaid as an entitlement program, relies on ineffective high risk pools and is expected to cause at least 24 million Americans to lose health coverage.

“The AHCA has the potential to take people living with HIV back to the days when they were denied insurance coverage or could not afford the coverage offered. High risk pools have repeatedly failed to provide affordable, quality coverage for people living with HIV and other pre-existing or chronic conditions. Coverage in high risk pools often has excessively high premiums, deductibles and co-pays along with limitations on needed drug coverage and care.

“The extra $8 billion provided by the AHCA to support access to insurance through high risk pools is not sufficient and will result in under-capitalized pools, years-long waiting lists and limits on eligibility. This will ultimately cost the United States more money in future hospitalizations and other expenses.”

AARP:

“AARP is deeply disappointed in today’s vote by the House to pass this deeply flawed health bill. The bill will put an Age Tax on us as we age, harming millions of American families with health insurance, forcing many to lose coverage or pay thousands of dollars more for health care.

“In addition, the bill now puts at risk the 25 million older adults with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, who would likely find health care unaffordable or unavailable to them.

“AARP will continue to oppose this bill as it moves to the Senate because it includes an Age Tax on older Americans, eliminates critical protections for those with pre-existing conditions, puts coverage at risk for millions, cuts the life of Medicare, erodes seniors’ ability to live independently, and gives sweetheart deals to big drug and insurance companies while doing nothing to lower the cost of prescriptions.”

Catholic Health Association:

“The Catholic Health Association is deeply disappointed with today’s vote in the House of Representatives to approve legislation that threatens the health coverage millions of Americans have gained through the Affordable Care Act. In addition, the proposed restructuring and cuts to Medicaid in the American Health Care Act will have devastating consequences for the many poor and vulnerable populations who rely on the program. The most recent amendments to the bill did nothing to alleviate those concerns, and in fact have made the legislation even more troubling by jeopardizing important protections for those with pre-existing conditions.”

Children’s Hospital Association:

“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the American Health Care Act (AHCA), putting the health of more than 30 million children who rely on Medicaid at risk. The AHCA drastically cuts Medicaid and does not protect coverage, benefits and access to care for children. As the Senate considers the bill, children’s hospitals urge senators to reject the House bill.

“The AHCA as passed by the House would be disastrous for our nation’s children. The bill cuts state health care budgets by more than $800 billion over 10 years — children could see their health care cut by tens of billions of dollars. Other changes contained in the bill would make the health care system worse for children, not better.”

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation:

“The American Health Care Act, as passed by the House today, is woefully inadequate for people with cystic fibrosis. The people who would be most severely impacted by this legislation seem to have been forgotten in the health care debate and we implore the Senate to do better for people living with chronic and life-threatening diseases, including people with [Cystic Fibrosis].”

March of Dimes: 

“The March of Dimes is profoundly disappointed in today’s House passage of the American Health Care Act, a bill expected to eliminate health insurance coverage for 24 million Americans, including millions of women, children and families.

“The American Health Care Act fails to serve the needs of pregnant women, mothers, and babies across our nation.  The March of Dimes estimates 6.5 million low-income women of childbearing age will lose coverage, denying them the ability to get healthy before they get pregnant.

“Classifying pregnancy as a pre-existing condition – and charging exorbitant rates for maternity benefits — would effectively put medical care out of reach for millions of women at a time when they need it most.

“Many Americans could find that their health plans are specifically written to exclude the care they are most likely to need.  This is not the solution to our health system’s challenges that women and families are asking for.

“The American Health Care Act fails to protect too many Americans:  pregnant women, couples considering starting a family, and infants born preterm or with birth defects, among many others.”

National MS Society:

“The National MS Society is bitterly disappointed by the outcome of today’s House vote in support of the American Health Care Act. People living with MS and their families will be significantly harmed if the American Health Care Act becomes law, and will surely be among those to lose coverage and care as tax credits are slashed, Medicaid is weakened, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions are eroded.”

Learn More:

List of 217 House Republicans who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1628

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