AMA joins other groups in opposing Senate health bill

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The largest association of doctors in the country, the American Medical Association is joining many of the nation’s leading medical and advocacy groups in voicing its opposition to the latest version of the Republican health care bill.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the AMA’s CEO James Madara wrote, “Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm.’ The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels.”

“We believe that Congress should be working to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health insurance instead of pursuing policies that have the opposite effect,” Madara continued.

Over the weekend, the president of the AMA also expressed his disapproval. Asked if the plan was something he could support, Dr. David Barbe did not hesitate. ” It is not,” he told NPR, adding, “You know, there are not really many parts of this that we like. If we go down the list of things — does it improve coverage? No. Does it improve affordability? No. Does it stabilize the safety net? Medicaid? No.”

The AMA is one of many groups that have raised their concerns about the GOP health plan.

The bill would dramatically scale back federal funding for Medicaid, repeal the individual mandate, and eliminate Obamacare’s taxes on the wealthy and insurers. It would also prevent the federal government from reimbursing Planned Parenthood for health services it provides.

A much-anticipated analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday found that the bill would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured by 2026 if enacted.

While the majority of major medical groups and lobbies oppose the bill, a few have either remained neutral or voiced support for the legislation.

We’ve been tracking their statements as Republican leadership works around the clock this week to cobble together 51 votes on their effort to repeal Obamacare. Here’s a list of where the major groups and interests stand.

Supporting the bill

Few medical organizations have taken the leap to actively support the Senate bill.

One notable exception is Anthem, a health insurance provider, which praised the legislation in a statement Monday. “Based on our review, we believe the Senate discussion draft will markedly improve the stability of the individual market,” the company said.

The company also touched on the bill’s controversial cuts to Medicaid, stating, “We are committed to working with our government partners now and into the future to navigate the challenges the current bill proposes to the Medicaid program.”

Neither supporting nor opposing the bill

The nation’s largest health insurance lobby, which represents companies that sell insurance to over 200 million Americans, has been quiet on the latest iteration of the GOP’s plan to repeal Obamacare. “We are not taking a support or oppose position,” a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans told The Hill.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which represents insurers covering more than 100 million Americans, is more supportive of the bill but has stopped short of endorsing it outright. “We have long urged Congress to take steps to stabilize the individual insurance marketplace so people can get the coverage they need at a price they can afford,” the group said in a statement. “We are encouraged that the draft Senate legislation funds cost-sharing reductions.”

Opposing the bill

All of the major doctor and hospital groups, however, have spoken out in opposition to the Republican plan.

The AMA, of course, is one of them. The American Hospital Association is another notable group that opposes the bill, as it represents more than 5,000 hospitals and health facilities nationwide.

“We urge the Senate to go back to the drawing board and develop legislation that continues to provide coverage to all Americans who currently have it,” the group said in a statement, primarily taking issue with the bill’s steep cuts to Medicaid.

Similar groups, representing doctors, hospitals and patients have highlighted their disapproval of the Senate bill.

AARP, the powerful group that lobbies on behalf of nearly 38 million Americans above the age of 50, has been aggressively opposed to the plan. Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said, “The Senate bill would hit millions of Americans with higher costs and result in less coverage for them.”

“AARP is adamantly opposed to the Age Tax,” she continued, saying it “would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else while reducing tax credits that help make insurance more affordable.”

Other important groups, including advocacy organizations like the American Heart Association, have joined the chorus of opposition to the bill.

Here’s a list of groups against the Republican plan.

American Medical Association: “We sincerely hope that the Senate will take this opportunity to change the course of the current debate and work to fix problems with the current system.”

American Hospital Association: “Medicaid cuts of this magnitude are unsustainable and will increase costs to individuals with private insurance.”

American Association of Medical Colleges: “We are extremely disappointed by the Senate bill released today.”

American College of Physicians: “I am writing to express our strongest possible opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “The US Senate’s proposed health reform bill contains provisions that would do great harm to patients.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “The bill fails children by dismantling the Medicaid program, capping its funding, ending its expansion and allowing its benefits to be scaled back.”

National Association of Medicaid Directors: “The per capita cap growth rates for Medicaid in the Senate bill are insufficient and unworkable.”

American Psychiatric Association: “The American Psychiatric Association urges the Senate to reject the troubling and harmful health care reform proposal released today by Senate Republicans.”

Federation of American Hospitals: “Most providers and clinicians, including FAH, are deeply concerned by the Better Care Reconciliation Act discussion draft.”

America’s Essential Hospitals: ” Senate leaders today have put ideology ahead of lives with a plan that puts health and home at risk for millions of working Americans and that would badly weaken essential services for everyone in communities across the country.”

AARP: “We strongly urge the Senate to reject this bill.”

American Heart Association: “The Senate draft health care bill is literally heartless.”

American Lung Association: “The healthcare legislation released today falls woefully short of providing healthcare for the 32 million Americans living with lung disease and should be rejected.”

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse: “Anyone who votes for the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 cannot claim to be committed to ending the opioid epidemic.”

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: ” Preliminary analysis of the Senate bill released today shows the proposal could greatly harm millions of cancer patients, survivors and those at risk for the disease.”

U.S. Conference for Catholic Bishops: “This moment cannot pass without comment. As the USCCB has consistently said, the loss of affordable access for millions of people is simply unacceptable. These are real families who need and deserve health care.”