Republicans’ newest effort to overhaul the US healthcare system in the Senate has received significant backlash from doctors, patients, and insurers.
The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill was released last week as a desperate attempt to pass a bill before the end of the month, after which the Senate would need 60 votes move any healthcare legislation. Republicans control 52 seats in the Senate.
The bill would set up federal funding in block grants, which states would use to fund healthcare. That’s different from how funding is distributed now, as a percentage of what states spend, and it could drastically change what states receive.
Since its release, more than 20 groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have come out in opposition to the bill, citing how it handles Medicaid and the potential implications it would have on people with preexisting conditions.
Here’s what the groups thought of the bill
The American Medical Association, the biggest group of doctors in the US, said the bill went against the Hippocratic Oath, the pledge doctors take before they practice medicine.
“Unfortunately, the Graham-Cassidy Amendment fails to match this vision and violates the precept of ‘first do no harm,'” AMA CEO Dr. James Madara said in a letter to senators. “Similar to proposals that were considered in the Senate in July, we believe the Graham-Cassidy Amendment would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care.”
The American College of Physicians, which represents 148,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students, had similar concerns that the bill wouldn’t live up to the “first, do no harm” principle.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents 66,000 pediatricians, has been critical of the Republican plans to reform healthcare, including the Graham-Cassidy bill.
“This bill may be disguised under a different name, but it contains the same dangerous policies as the legislation that failed to advance out of the Senate earlier this summer. In fact, Graham-Cassidy goes even further in its attacks on Medicaid,” Dr. Fernando Stein, president of the AAP, said in a statement.
The bill would take away funding from Medicaid as it is today, and after 2026, funding for Medicaid under the expansion program set up by the Affordable Care Act would be cut completely.
Sixteen patient groups – including the JDRF, ALS Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Family Voices, JDRF, Lutheran Services in America, March of Dimes, National Health Council, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Organization for Rare Diseases, Volunteers of America, and WomenHeart – came out with a joint statement against the new bill, pointing to how it would deal with access to affordable healthcare for those with preexisting conditions.
“Affordable, adequate care is vital to the patients we represent. This legislation fails to provide Americans with what they need to maintain their health,” the groups said in a statement. “In fact, much of the proposal just repackages the problematic provisions of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which we opposed.”
The American Hospital Association, which represents thousands of hospitals and health systems, wasn’t on board with the cuts to coverage that could happen under the bill.
“We believe that coverage could be at risk for tens of millions of Americans under the Graham-Cassidy proposal. We continue to urge senators to work in a bipartisan manner to address the challenges facing our health care system,” AHA President Richard Pollack said in a statement.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, the group that represents health insurers, also came out against the bill, saying the plan didn’t meet the principles the group laid out in a letter.
“While we cannot support this proposal, we will keep working to find the right solutions that reflect the commitment we all share: affordable coverage and high-quality care for every American,” CEO Marilyn Tavenner said.