Doctors, hospitals, and insurers have come together to fight the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill was passed yesterday in the House of Representatives despite the unity of these groups, who all issued statements condemning the House's move.
“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,” American Medical Association President Andrew W. Gurman, MD, said.
While many insurers did not make statements opposing the bill prior to the vote, several individual companies and groups are now speaking out. Ceci Connolly, president and CEO of The Alliance of Community Health Plans, a group representing insurance companies, said, “Every American should have the opportunity to attain high-quality, affordable coverage and the millions of people who have gained coverage should not lose that protection. Our plans are dedicated to the health of over 18 million beneficiaries and the wellbeing of the communities they serve. They believe in the importance of access to preventive and comprehensive care and have consistently offered robust coverage, regardless of geographic location or health status of their members."
Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, explained their concerns to NPR. "You know, we take care of everyone that walks through our doors. That's a commitment that we make, and it's a promise that we make to the public. And we will continue to make it as long as those doors are able to stay open. But the real impact and the real concern is not so much on hospitals per se. It's on the people that we take care of and the communities we serve," said Pollack. "And when tens of millions of additional people will be uninsured and lack coverage, that's a real concern to us. When those individuals don't have access to preventative care to prevent them from ending up in the emergency departments, that's a real concern to us."
Initial estimates showed that the AHCA would result in 24 million people losing insurance. The numbers for this version of the bill are not yet known because the House voted before the Congressional Budget Office issued estimates on the costs and
impacts. That number is at the heart of the groups' unity.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also spoke out on behalf of their patients. "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," said Dr. Fernando Stein, the group's president.
All the groups involved have said that they look forward to working with the Senate to fix the AHCA. It will be more difficult to pass the bill in the Senate. House Democrats all voted against the bill, and that seems likely to hold up in the Senate. Republicans only have a two-vote majority, and several of their senators are already discussing their concerns.