The nation’s physicians are mobilizing once again to battle attempts to end health insurance coverage millions of Americans have gained over the last four years under the Affordable Care Act.
Several groups within the American Medical Association are voicing support for policy that expands coverage even as the Republican-led U.S. Senate looks to reduce health benefits. The AMA’s policy-making House of Delegates meets through Wednesday in Chicago, amending and debating the advocacy agenda for the nation’s largest doctor group.
“We aim to ensure protections for millions who have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act,” Dr. James Madara , the AMA’s CEO told delegates Saturday during the conference’s opening speeches. “Encourage lawmakers to view health care from the shoes of the patient. Encourage them. . . to put patients before politics.”
The AMA is opposed to the American Health Care Act, also known as Trumpcare, which passed the Republican-led House of Representatives last month over objections from doctors, hospitals and myriad consumer groups including the AARP. Now doctors are concerned they won’t even get a say as Republicans in the Senate meet behind closed doors on the AHCA with reports emerging that they may gradually roll back the Medicaid expansion.
“The AAFP opposes any roll back of Medicaid or loss of coverage that would result from the roll back of Medicaid expansion,” says Shawn Martin, senior vice president of advocacy, practice advancement and policy for the American Academy of Family Physicians. “We’re especially concerned that a number of states have provisions that halt their expansion of Medicaid if at any point, federal dollars are no longer guaranteed.”
There are 31 states plus the District of Columbia that agreed to expand Medicaid under the ACA, which was signed into law seven years ago by President Barack Obama. The AMA, American Academy of Family Physicians and other doctor groups supported the ACA’s subsidized private coverage as well as the expansion of Medicaid benefits to poor Americans.
The AMA and other doctor groups have long advocated for health insurance for all Americans, supporting coverage for pre-existing conditions. But the AHCA would cause 23 million Americans to lose coverage by 2026, the Congressional Budget Office said last month.
Some see the Senate as pursuing a more moderate proposal, but media reports out of Washington indicate the Medicaid expansion is vulnerable to being eliminated over a six to seven-year period.