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Providers: CBO Score Flunks House Repeal-and-Replace Plan

News  |  By Christopher Cheney  
   March 14, 2017

The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Republican bill to replace the ACA projects that millions of people will lose health insurance coverage. Physician and hospital groups are expressing concern.

Healthcare-provider organizations reacted with a chorus of criticism to Monday's release of the Congressional Budget Office score of the House Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"The American Health Care Act is projected to cause 14 million Americans to lose their health insurance coverage as early as next year, and as many as 24 million by 2026. These are people, not numbers—people who all too often will be left without access to regular care, putting their health at risk," Darrell Kirch, MD, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges said in a media statement Monday.

The AAMC represents nearly 400 teaching hospitals and health systems.

Although House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) praised the CBO finding that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion through 2026, Kirch said the costs of the repeal-and-replace deal outweigh the benefits.

"While some may point to the federal budget savings the AHCA would yield, the fact is these Americans will still need healthcare. America's teaching hospitals will continue to care for these vulnerable patients, but will be forced to absorb the resulting uncompensated care costs, threatening their ability to support and advance their research and education missions."

AOA 'Cannot Support' AHCA
The organization that represents more than 129,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) says the projected loss of healthcare coverage under the AHCA is unacceptable.

"The Congressional Budget Office scoring confirms that the American Health Care Act neither increases access to care nor addresses the foundational issues plaguing our health care system. The American Osteopathic Association has long supported federal and state efforts to increase access to affordable health care and cannot support this legislation," Boyd Buser, DO, president of the AOA, said in a media statement Monday.

The House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act has a fatal flaw, Buser said.

"It's critical to recognize that the difficulty in ensuring coverage and access to affordable health care is a symptom of perpetually rising costs. In order to drive down costs, Congress should prioritize prevention and care coordination, two measures proven to reduce overall costs by addressing health problems at the most readily treatable stage and eliminating waste. Decreasing the number of Americans with coverage will not achieve that goal."

AHA: 'Cannot Support' AHCA
The American Hospital Association (AHA) also sounded alarm over the CBO's estimate of coverage reductions.

"The CBO number reinforces our concerns about the importance of maintaining coverage for those vulnerable patients who need it," AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement released by his office Monday.

"As we said in our letter to Congress last week, any changes to the Affordable Care Act must be guided by ensuring that we continue to provide healthcare coverage for the millions of people who have benefited from the law. We cannot support a bill that the CBO and others clearly indicate would reduce coverage for so many people."

NJHA Sees Return to 'Dark Days'
Adoption of the AHCA would have grim consequences, Betsy Ryan, JD, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association, said in a statement Monday.

"The impact of the law, as revealed today by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would return our country to the dark days where the nation's uninsured rate reached double digits and millions of families didn't have access to primary and preventive care."

"That means a less healthy population and higher healthcare costs. It also means that healthcare providers will once again carry the burden of providing safety-net care. The impact will be borne by all healthcare consumers and taxpayers who will experience cost shifts to pay for that care."

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.

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