Six major medical organizations that represent more than half a million frontline physicians took a stand yesterday in opposition to any Senate effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The groups issued a joint statement that repeal of the ACA without replacement legislation would harm patients and reiterated its opposition to any effort in Washington that leaves patients worse off. They issued the statement in reaction to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s declaration that the Senate vote on repeal of the ACA would happen “sometime in the near future.”
Despite President Donald Trump’s statement this week that Republicans should let the ACA fail and force Democrats to come to the table, McConnell appears determined to force a vote on a measure that would repeal the ACA and replace it later—even though there apparently isn't enough GOP support to pass it.
And Trump, at a lunch at the White House yesterday, changed course yet again, saying Republican senators shouldn’t leave town before passing a bill to repeal and replace the ACA.
Instead, the physician groups urged lawmakers to start over with a bipartisan and transparent process to develop a consensus on how to improve the ACA to close gaps in health coverage. The statement was issued by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Osteopathic Association and the American Psychiatric Association.
“Consistent with our steadfast opposition to any legislation that would leave our patients worse off, we oppose any effort by the U.S. Senate to repeal the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, premium and cost-sharing subsidies, and other coverage and consumer protections,” the groups wrote. A vote to repeal the ACA without a consensus would further destabilize the health insurance marketplace, cause massive premium increases, and leave patients without access to affordable, comprehensive healthcare coverage, they said.
In its own statement Tuesday, the American Medical Association, the country’s largest physician group, also called on Congress to begin a collaborative process that produces bipartisan agreement on how to improve the country’s healthcare system. “The health reform debate is by no means over,” said AMA President David Barbe, M.D.
The Association of American Medical Colleges also released a statement opposing repeal of the ACA without a replacement plan that provides at least comparable healthcare coverage. “Patients—particularly those with complex conditions—require stability and continuity in their care. Without access to affordable meaningful coverage, many would forego or delay necessary medical care. This puts millions of Americans, including the most vulnerable patients, at risk,” said its president and CEO, Darrell G. Kirch, M.D.
McConnell took the position to repeal the ACA in the wake of the collapse of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which he was unable to move forward after two more senators—making four total—said they wouldn’t support it. The Senate’s top Republican then pivoted to push for a strategy of repealing the ACA and implementing a 2-year delay in which to come up with a replacement, but that plan didn’t have the necessary votes to advance.