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Stakeholders React to House Passing Build Back Better Act

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   November 22, 2021

Healthcare stakeholders share praise and disappointments on Friday's ruling.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, on Friday afternoon, a $1.7 trillion economic plan written by President Joseph Biden, to "create jobs, reduce costs, make our country more competitive, and give working people and the middle class a fighting chance."

The bill also covers healthcare, including the potential of:

  • The reduction of prescription drug costs
  • Affordable Care Act provisions
  • Addressing the Medicaid coverage gap
  • Medicare coverage

The bill, which will now make its way to the Senate, may be passed as soon as Christmas. If changes are made, the bill will be voted on again by the House before moving back to the Senate.

In response to the House passing the bill with significant healthcare provisions, numerous healthcare stakeholders offered statements including praise and disappointment to the plan.

American Hospital Association

The American Hospital Association (AHA) president and CEO, Rick Pollack, released a statement on Friday following the passage showing support, but also sharing disappointment.

"The AHA supports many parts of the Build Back Better Act that would advance health in our nation’s communities," the statement says.

"We appreciate expansion of Medicare-funded physician residency slots and Pathway to Practice, which promotes physician diversity and improves access to physicians in communities dealing with sustained hardship. We also applaud the investments to improve maternal and child health."

"However, while we appreciate the goal of increasing coverage to residents in states that did not expand their Medicaid programs, it should not come at the expense of vital funding to hospitals and health systems located in those parts of the country that serve a large number of children, the poor, the disabled and the elderly. These cuts are unacceptable, especially while hospitals remain on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 and the deadly Delta variant.

In addition, we are disappointed the House did not include critical funding for hospital infrastructure improvements through the Hill-Burton Act, as they did in an earlier version of the legislation."

Association of American Medical Colleges

The Association of American Medical College (AAMC) president and CEO, David J. Skorton, MD and chief public policy officer, Karen Fisher, JD, issued a statement Friday afternoon applauding the passage.

"The AAMC applauds the House for advancing the Build Back Better Act, which would take important steps toward alleviating the physician shortage, diversifying the physician workforce, improving access to care for people in underserved urban and rural communities, strengthening public health infrastructure, and addressing long-standing health inequities," the statement says.

"The AAMC-supported health care workforce investments in the bill include a significant increase in the number of Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME) slots; the Pathway to Practice Training Program; programs to improve maternal health; and additional funding for Teaching Health Center GME, the National Health Service Corps, Children’s Hospitals GME, and health professions training at Department of Veterans Affairs’ facilities."

 "We applaud the $3.37 billion in supplemental funding for Teaching Health Center GME. Teaching health centers play a unique role in increasing the number of primary care physicians practicing in communities nationwide. Additionally, the legislation includes $500 million for grants to medical schools and branch campus infrastructure in underserved areas."

America's Essential Hospitals

America's Essential Hospitals (AEH) president and CEO, Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH released a statement of support and disappointment on Friday.

"We support the goals of the Build Back Better Act to expand access to health care coverage and strengthen our health care workforce, but we cannot accept the damaging cuts this legislation would make to funding for hospitals that care for low-income patients and underserved communities," the statement says.

"We welcome provisions in the Build Back Better Act to build a more resilient and robust health care workforce and to improve maternal and child health. The proposed increases in graduate medical education slots and support for nursing would help our nation and hospitals recover from the detrimental effects of the pandemic on the health care workforce."

"The Build Back Better Act has the potential to help many people who face barriers to affordable health care and to repair a health care system weakened by the pandemic. We urge lawmakers to reject cuts in the bill that would undermine progress toward those goals."

Federation of American Hospitals

The Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) president and CEO, Chip Kahn, released a statement on Friday showing both support and disappointment as well.

“The Build Back Better Act (BBB) passed by the House advances critically important health care coverage policies. FAH has long advocated for ensuring all Americans affordable coverage. We commend and strongly support the BBB’s enhanced ACA subsidies and the bill’s use of the ACA framework to close the Medicaid coverage gap in non-expansion states."

“At the same time, we adamantly oppose the proposed cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) and uncompensated care payments. These reductions will fail to motivate non-expansion states to expand Medicaid, and will adversely impact access to care for millions of Americans in these states. We urge Congress to strike these proposed cuts from any future iteration of the bill."

Melanie Blackman is the strategy editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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