Thursday, June 15, 2017

APA Urges Senate to Be Transparent, Inclusive in Crafting ACA Repeal Bill

APA today joined with five other medical associations to raise concerns about how the Senate is developing legislation that would harm patients by repealing and undermining essential health care coverage and patient protections established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the six medical organizations urged the political leaders to “commit to a transparent, deliberate, and accountable process” that allows adequate time for stakeholders to provide input on the impact the proposed legislation would have on patients and their physicians. The letter also calls for public hearings on the proposed bill as well as sufficient time to ensure that the Senate has the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score on the legislation and other independent analyses available for review well in advance of any vote.

“Proposed legislation revamping our nation’s health care system needs to be worked on in the open, not behind closed doors,” APA President-Elect Altha Stewart, M.D., said in a news release. “We are determined that the voices of patients with mental illness or substance use disorders be heard.”  

The five groups that signed onto the letter with APA were the American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. These groups collectively represent more than 560,000 physicians and medical students. 

APA was part of the same coalition of medical organizations that had expressed strong opposition to the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which the House of Representatives passed on May 4. 

Late last month, the CBO released its score of the AHCA, which it projected would leave some 14 million more Americans uninsured next year than under the current law and 23 million more uninsured by 2026. APA had responded to the news immediately at the time, renewing its call for the Senate to reject the ACA replacement bill in favor of a bipartisan solution. 

This week, APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., reiterated that message. “We are willing to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in crafting health care legislation that provides adequate coverage to Americans,” he said in a news release. “Allow us to lend our expertise to this important issue. It is crucial that any legislation include mental health and substance use disorder treatment.”

(Image: Mikhail Kolesnikov/Shutterstock)


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