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Thursday
Mar092017

Major health groups oppose changes under proposed 'Trumpcare' bill

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Physician and hospital groups are voicing opposition to the new health care bill called the American Health Care Act over concerns that many patients could lose health coverage.

Those opposed to the bill include major medical groups such as the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

In a letter to congressional officials, Dr. James Madara, CEO of the AMA, said the bill could potentially harm vulnerable patients in its current draft, especially for people now covered by the Medicaid expansion.

"While we agree that there are problems with the ACA that must be addressed, we cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations," Madara wrote on behalf of the AMA, the largest association of physicians and medical students in the U.S.

He specifically cited concerns about the plan outlined in the current draft of the AHCA to stop Medicaid expansion in 2020. States that currently offer Medicaid to people below 138 percent of the poverty level will no longer receive extra funds for new expansion candidates after 2020, the proposed bill states. But they would be able to receive funds for those already enrolled.

"Medicaid expansion has proven highly successful in providing coverage for lower income individuals," Madara said.

The American Hospital Association also sent a letter voicing "significant concerns" over the current bill. Specifically, they believe the bill could lead to "tremendous instability" for people seeking affordable health insurance.

"Absent Congressional Budget Office analysis, our assessment of this legislation as currently drafted is that it is likely to result in a substantial reduction in the number of Americans able to buy affordable health insurance or maintain coverage under the Medicaid program," officials from the American Hospital Association said in the letter.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, a non-profit organization of 66,000 physicians specializing in medical care for children and teens, opposed the bill saying it would undo recent gains in health insurance coverage for children. The group estimated that 95 percent of children are insured, including those now covered through Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The AAP opposed Medicaid changes under the American Health Care Act Medicaid, such as moving away from an entitlement program where states can receive open-ended federal funds for Medicaid recipients to a block-grant fund where they would receive per-person allotments that cannot exceed the maximum.

"Medicaid has been a crucial source of health care coverage for children for over 50 years," the group said, reporting that 36 million children are currently covered via Medicaid.

"Per capita caps would degrade the quality of care offered in the Medicaid program and would hinder the ability of states to respond to public health crises and other fluctuations in health care costs and the need for services," AAP officials said in their letter to Congress.

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