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AMA Blasts GOP Health Care Bill

| by Robert Fowler

The American Medical Association has voiced opposition to Republican senators' legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The prominent health care lobbying group is among many that have called for the bill to be rejected.

On June 26, AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James Madara penned a letter to Senate leaders expressing his disapproval of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the GOP bill designed to replace the ACA. The letter was addressed to the Senate Majority Leader, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of of Kentucky, and the Senate Minority Leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

"Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or 'first, do no harm,'" Madara wrote, according to The Hill. "The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels."

The GOP health care bill has yet to receive a score from the Congressional Budget Office, but critics of the draft legislation have noted that it would end Medicaid expansion and place a cap on how much federal funding would go into the program. The bill would also reduce subsidies for health care patients and allow states to obtain waivers excluding their residents from key ACA protections.

Madara signaled that his lobbying group would favor the GOP abandoning efforts to repeal the ACA and instead focusing on amending it.

"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," Madara continued. "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, and we renew our commitment to work with you in that endeavor."

The AMA CEO asserted that providing smaller subsidies and allowing states to obtain waivers to opt out of key protections would "expose low- and middle-income patients to higher costs and greater difficulty in affording care."

Madara added that capping Medicaid funding would "limit states' ability to address the health care needs of their most vulnerable citizens."

On June 22, AARP also came out against the GOP health care bill. Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond released an official statement asserting that the legislation would dramatically disadvantage Americans aged 50 years and older.

"AARP is adamantly opposed to the Age Tax, which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more coverage than everyone else while reducing tax credits that help make insurance more affordable," LeaMond said, according to the Washington Examiner.

LeaMond warned that Medicaid cuts "would leave millions, including our most vulnerable seniors, at risk of losing the care they need and erode seniors' ability to live in their homes and communities."

McConnell can only afford two GOP senators voting against the health care bill. If three or more Republicans refuse to back the bill, it would fail to move to the House. The Senate Minority Leader has called for a vote for the legislation before the chamber's July 4th recess, The New York Times reports.

On June 26, GOP senators unveiled a revised draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, inserting a new penalty for Americans who do not opt in to health coverage. Under the new provision, citizens who choose not to be covered for 63 days or more will be blocked from purchasing health insurance for six months in the ensuing year, NPR reports.

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