AMA's call to action: Doctors must fight health insurance coverage losses, Medicaid cuts

Capitol Hill
Doctors need to be a voice for their patients in political battles, AMA leaders said.

The country’s doctors must raise their voices be protect patients at risk of losing healthcare insurance coverage and protest possible cuts to Medicaid expansion. That was the message from leaders of the American Medical Association—the largest doctor group in the country—as the organization’s policymaking House of Delegates began its annual meeting in Chicago this weekend.

A major concern is how GOP healthcare plans will impact patients, particularly how many may lose health insurance coverage gained under the Affordable Care Act.

“We aim to ensure protections for millions who have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act,” James Madara, M.D., the AMA’s CEO, told delegates, according to a Forbes contributed post.

Doctors must encourage lawmakers to view healthcare from the patient’s perspective and to put patients before politics, he said.

The AMA’s vigor and vision spread across all areas of medicine, says AMA CEO, James L. Madara, MD. #AMAmtg

— AMA (@AmerMedicalAssn) June 10, 2017

His comments were echoed by AMA’s outgoing President Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., who said healthcare policy should be evaluated based on its impact on patients.

“Will the proposals cover more, the same or fewer people? Because we know that people who don’t have insurance live sicker and die younger. Do the proposals provide adequate access, choice and coverage? Do the proposals advance high-quality care?” Gurman asked, according to AMA.

Amid high-stakes changes, physicians can light way, says AMA president, @AndyGurmanMD. #AMAmtg

— AMA (@AmerMedicalAssn) June 10, 2017

The Republican-controlled Senate is now formulating its version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed in the House last month and is opposed by many doctor, hospital and consumer groups. The Congressional Budget Office predicted about 23 million Americans will lose healthcare coverage over the next 10 years under the version of the bill passed by the House.

RELATED: Senate pushes for healthcare vote by end of the month

The AMA is also worried about reports that the Republicans in the Senate may gradually roll back the Medicaid expansion that occurred as a result of the ACA.

Shawn Martin, senior vice president of advocacy, practice advancement and policy for the American Academy of Family Physicians, said his group is opposed to any Medicaid rollback. “We're especially concerned that a number of states have provisions that halt their expansion of Medicaid if at any point, federal dollars are no longer guaranteed,” he told the Forbes contributor.

Medicaid has been a key sticking point since the Senate took up healthcare reform, as some GOP senators who are from Medicaid expansion states are reluctant to repeal it.