AHA President Rick Pollack: Republican healthcare bill ‘not consistent with our deeply held principles’

Affordable Care Act highlighted
The American Hospital Association reasserted its position against the GOP's bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act at its annual meeting.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Hospital Association has vigorously opposed the GOP’s American Health Care Act, and the group reasserted that position this week at its annual meeting.

President Rick Pollack addressed attendees Monday morning and said the organization is calling on the Senate to “reset the discussion surrounding” the AHCA.

“The House bill is not consistent with our deeply held principles of providing coverage for those who need it … and ensuring that the most vulnerable are not left behind,” Pollack said.

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives last week, but it is expected to undergo significant changes in the Senate. The AHA has opposed the AHCA since its original reveal, alongside many other major industry groups, even launching a grassroots campaign against it in March.

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The AHA does support amendments and adjustments to the Affordable Care Act, which the AHCA is intended to repeal and replace, and has offered several proposals to that effect, Pollack said.

In addition to Pollack’s remarks, Thomas Nickels, the AHA’s executive vice president of government relations and public policy, sat down with journalist Frank Sesno to offer a look at the possible future of the bill and what the feeling on Capitol Hill is in regards to the measure. Nickels said it’s not as though the Senate is just now considering health reform, as its members have also been considering their approach as the House battled over its bill.

Nickels’ thoughts echoed those of other experts, who expect the Senate to moderate some of the changes proposed in the House bill, including sweeping cuts to Medicaid funding. He also said it’s likely that the Senate may adjust the sunsetting of Medicaid expansion and keep consumer protections, like the essential health benefits and guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, in place.

Much of the talk in the House, he said, focused on the individual markets, but the Senate will be looking much more closely at the Medicaid changes, particularly legislators that represent states that expanded the program. The Senate will also give more consideration to reports out of the Congressional Budget Office, which the House did not wait on before passing its bill, he said.

“The Senate has this pesky thing about rules,” Nickels said. “They really like them.”

RELATED: What's next for AHCA: Policy experts say even bigger battle looms for healthcare bill

Republican pollster Bill McInturff, partner and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, also weighed in on the party’s healthcare reform efforts. McInturff, who was involved in testing the “Harry and Louise” ad campaign against the Clinton healthcare plan in the mid-1990s, said American politics are so polarized now that those days seem “like a simpler time.”

He said the bill remains very unpopular in polls, but that the successful vote has, at least, given a sense that GOP leadership is in control of the party.

“At least what it’s done is restore confidence,” McInturff said.