Yesterday (May 5), the U.S. House of Representatives voted to adopt an updated version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Affordable Care Act replacement that failed to garner Republican support earlier this year. NPR has a rundown of how the House version of the bill would change the law of the land.
While many Republican members have admitted that they did not actually read it before voting, many health care and human rights advocacy organizations are quite familiar with the bill and critical of the changes it will make to the system. Here’s why several organizations think the AHCA is bad for America.
American Medical Association president Andrew W. Gurman
“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.”
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights president and CEO Wade Henderson
“Instead of providing more health coverage, the GOP bill provides less, by reducing Medicaid spending by $880 billion or 25 percent less than estimated under current law, thus depriving millions of low-income people, seniors and people with disabilities affordable health care. The bill would cut special education services in schools and allow states to eliminate essential health benefits, including maternity care. The Republican bill also shamelessly uses the money saved from these draconian cuts to reduce taxes for the wealthy. President Trump campaigned on a pledge that everyone will be covered and no one will lose their coverage—yet the Trumpcare bill does neither. …
“The facts are simple. The Affordable Care Act has expanded access to health care. If Republicans are serious about strengthening the law, they must take off their partisan blinders and work with their Democratic colleagues to find a bipartisan approach that works. The health—and lives—of their constituents is at stake.”
American Hospital Association president and CEO Rick Pollack
“America’s hospitals and health systems are deeply disappointed in the House passage of the AHCA because it will jeopardize health coverage for millions of Americans.
“Despite last-minute changes, the proposal eliminates essential protections for older and sicker patients, including those with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer patients and the chronically ill. It does little to help the 24 million Americans who would be left without coverage following repeal and makes deep cuts to Medicaid, which provides essential services for the disabled, poor and elderly people in this country.
“As the backbone of our nation’s health safety net, America’s hospitals and health systems—which include more than 270,000 affiliated physicians and 2 million nurses and other caregivers—believe it’s vital that Medicaid be protected. We urge the Senate to restart and reset the discussion in a manner that provides coverage to those who need it and ensures that the most vulnerable are not left behind.”
American Academy of Pediatrics president Fernando Stein
“The rate of children’s health coverage in our country is at a historic high of 95 percent; the AHCA would not only halt this progress, it would tear it down. By dismantling Medicaid through capped funding and the elimination of the Medicaid expansion, those who will suffer the most are those who need health care the most, including the 37 million children across the country who rely on the program. Medicaid works for these children, including those with special health care needs and those from low-income families—they are more likely to get check-ups, miss less school, graduate and enter the workforce than their uninsured peers.
“The bill also allows insurers to go back to putting annual and lifetime limits on coverage, meaning that a premature baby on private insurance could exceed her lifetime limit on coverage before she even leaves the hospital. In addition, the bill allows insurance companies to refuse to cover those with pre-existing conditions, or charge them more for coverage, meaning that conditions ranging from asthma to pregnancy to cystic fibrosis could completely devastate a family financially and leave those who need care unable to access it.”
AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond
“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.”
African American Mayors Association president Toni Harp
“My colleagues and I condemn the House’s action today on health care. The House bill jeopardizes health insurance coverage for millions of people with pre-existing conditions and limits the health benefits available to people covered by the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, this bill decimates the Medicaid program. It cuts federal Medicaid payments to the states by $880 billion over 10 years and will cause some 10 million people to lose Medicaid coverage.
“We do not want to go back to a time when Medicaid funding was too limited to fulfill the program’s intended purposes. We do not want to see families of children born with preexisting conditions face skyrocketing premiums and exceed lifetime caps, because Congress put politics before families. As a result, our cities will be forced to curtail services to children, the disabled and the elderly, and there will be a dramatic decline in the ability of our hospitals and clinics—both public and private—to treat and prevent a host of serious conditions—diabetes, opioid abuse, and mental illness among them. Healthcare provides for a healthier workforce, which drives the local economies that are the bedrock of our national prosperity. As of today, the health of that workforce is threatened.”
The Senate is now charged with evaluating the bill. As The New York Times reports, the Senate is not likely to approve the current version. While Republicans have a small 52-member majority, several GOP senators have expressed concern about the people who would be left without coverage.