​​​​​​​Provider groups praise demise of AHCA, call for bipartisan action on future healthcare reform

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Provider groups are celebrating the demise of the Republicans' healthcare bill but are emphasizing that change is still needed.

Provider groups came out strongly against the GOP’s proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), and many cheered Congress’ decision to pull the bill Friday in the wake of strong opposition.

Some of the largest and most influential industry groups, including the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association, came out against the bill, which would have made significant cuts to Medicaid and eliminated the individual mandate, among other provisions. The AHA even launched a grassroots campaign to encourage its members to voice concerns about the proposal.

RELATED: What now? Health insurers still face uncertainty after AHCA’s demise

Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., president of the AMA, told FierceHealthcare that the bill’s failing re-emphasizes the AMA’s argument that a bipartisan, wide-ranging effort is needed to ensure that healthcare reform improves patient care. And, though the AHCA has failed, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to do in healthcare reform, Gurman said.

“While it is important to prevent our patients from losing health coverage, the status quo should not be the default option,” Gurman said. “The AMA continues to urge members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and the Administration to craft policies that address shortcomings in our health system and keep patients at the center of all reform efforts.”

Among the chief concerns from providers about the bill were the likelihood that millions would lose insurance coverage and a likely increase in costs. National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, R.N., said in a statement that, though there are a number of valid criticisms of the Affordable Care Act, the bill championed by House Speaker Paul Ryan was a “war on our own people.”

“Why the Ryan bill ultimately failed is its premise that throwing more people to the wolves of the healthcare market would undeniably exacerbate the crisis for the people left behind by the gaps in the ACA,” DeMoro said.

Families USA, a group that represents healthcare consumers, echoed the sentiment. The bill’s demise was a “tremendous development” for all who stood against it, the organization said in a statement. The group also vowed to continue its fight to defend the ACA and Medicaid expansion.

“This bill failed because it was a ruse. It didn’t do what its sponsors had guaranteed—coverage for at least as many people at lower costs. Simply, it was a mammoth income transfer from working families to the rich,” the organization said.

Other industry groups shared similar responses. American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., said “American lives have been spared” because the bill failed. Jeffrey Hulburt, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, said in a statement to FierceHealthcare that “the AHCA threatened to reverse the gains we’ve made in the shift toward a value-based model of care.”

Women’s health providers celebrate

One of the major “winners” in the bill’s demise was Planned Parenthood, which stood to lose federal funding if the bill was passed. In a statement, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said the public response to the bill “sent a clear message” to Congress that people support the organization.

“Over the last few months, we witnessed a never-before-seen outpouring of organizing, activism, and support. People marched, showed up at town hall meetings across America, flooded the Congressional switchboard with calls, organized online, stood up for access to healthcare,” Richards said. “If you’ve ever wondered whether speaking out made a difference, today is your answer.”

If the ACA is repealed, the changes could significantly impact women, especially those enrolled in Medicaid. Cuts to Medicaid could make it much harder for poor women to access needed preventative services.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said in a statement that Congress avoided a major crisis for women’s healthcare.

“Any health insurance reform must ensure none of our patients lose access to care that they have today,” the group said. “ACOG remains vigilant to oppose any future attacks on women’s health, and looks forward to working with the U.S. Congress to develop a better path.”

Hospital stocks make gains

The hospital stock market took a hit amid industry uncertainty following Donald Trump's election in November, with investors banking on its failure. On Friday, though, as the bill was in its death throes, hospital stocks soared, according to an article from Forbes.

Shares of Tenet Healthcare rose about 7% and shares of HCA Holdings rose 4%, according to the article. The increases represent a significant lull at the beginning of last week, when it seemed as though the AHCA might pass.