The American Medical Association, the country's largest medical lobbying organization, has spoken out against the House GOP's current draft of a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, with the Republican-led American Health Care Act.
"More than 20 million Americans currently have health care coverage due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and among the AMA’s highest priorities for on-going health system reform efforts is to ensure that these individuals maintain that coverage," said AMA CEO Dr. James Madara. "While we agree that there are problems with the ACA that must be addressed, we cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations."
The AMA, which backed Obamacare in 2010, said the organization was concerned with the GOP's plan to replace subsidies with a flat-tax credit for low and middle income families, adjusted by age, which could have a negative impact on low-income families, reported The New York Times.
"The AMA has long supported advanceable, refundable tax credits as a preferred method for assisting individuals in obtaining private health care coverage. It is important, however, that the amount of credits available to individuals be sufficient to enable one to afford quality coverage," Madara said in his letter to Congress. "We believe that credits should be inversely related to an individual’s income. This structure provides the greatest chance that those of the least means are able to purchase coverage."
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The AMA also strongly opposes the GOP plan to phase-out by 2020 the Obamacare plan to expand Medicaid, according to PBS.
"Medicaid expansion has proven highly successful in providing coverage for lower income individuals. Beyond the expansion, the underlying structure of Medicaid financing ensures that states are able to react to economically driven changes in enrollment and increased health care needs driven by external factors," Madara wrote.
He continued, "The Medicaid program, for example, has been critical in helping many states cope with the increased demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment as a result of the ongoing crisis of opioid abuse and addiction. Changes to the program, therefore, that limit the ability of states to respond to changes in demand for services threaten to force states to limit coverage and increase the number of uninsured."
The AMA's view of the GOP healthcare plan is that it ultimately reduces access to health coverage for millions of Americans.
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"The AMA cannot support provisions that prevent Americans from choosing to receive care from physicians and other qualified providers, in this specific case, those associated with Planned Parenthood affiliates, for otherwise covered services," Madara added.