AHA, America's Essential Hospitals oppose GOP's American Health Care Act
Two major hospital groups, concerned about the financial impact that would be imposed on them under House Republicans' proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, have said they can't support the bill in its current form.
In a March 7 letter to the House of Representatives, American Hospital Association CEO Richard Pollack said it was difficult to evaluate the AHCA in absence of a proper scoring by the Congressional Budget Office.
On first glance, however, he said AHA had deep qualms about the bill's plans to restructure Medicaid, "making significant reductions in a program that provides services to our most vulnerable populations, and already pays providers significantly less than the cost of providing care."
AHA also objects to the bill's potential for adverse impacts on population health: "While we commend the recent actions by the Congress to address behavioral health issues, as well as the drug epidemic that is impacting virtually every community we serve, it is important to recognize that significant progress in these areas is directly related to whether individuals have coverage." said Pollack.
"We have already seen clear evidence of how expanded coverage is helping to address these high-priority needs," he added, noting that Americans "rely on hospitals and health systems to provide them with access for their essential healthcare."
Pollack urged that the the bill should not move forward without further input from the CBO.
"We ask Congress to protect our patients, and find ways to maintain coverage for as many Americans as possible," he said. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Congress and the administration on ACA reform, but we cannot support The American Health Care Act in its current form."
With the American Health Care Act's proposed restructuring of (and effective reductions in) Medicaid coverage, meanwhile, safety net and critical access hospitals would be bracing for the worst under the law – including potential layoffs.
"Our hospitals could not sustain such reductions without scaling back services or eliminating jobs," said physician Bruce Siegel, CEO of America's Essential Hospitals, in a statement. "Congress must work with all stakeholders to ensure that those who have coverage now do not lose it, that entitlement reform does not shift costs to states and providers, and that reform sustains a strong and secure safety net."