Health Groups Double-Back Over Republican Health Bill

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Health care groups that were once in staunch opposition of House Republicans’ plan to overhaul Obamacare are now considering working with lawmakers to craft a bill they can support.

House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act on May 4. Almost immediately, health care organizations spoke out against the bill, claiming it would leave millions of Americans without insurance and consumers with higher out-of-pocket costs.

The American Medical Association (AMA) led the charge, a group that represents around 15 percent of practicing physicians in the U.S.

“The bill passed by the House today will result in millions of Americans losing access to quality, affordable health insurance,” American Medical Association President Andrew W. Gurman said in a May 4 statement. “The AMA urges the Senate and the Administration to work with physician, patient, hospital and other provider groups to craft bipartisan solutions.”

The AHCA is currently up for debate in the Senate, where senators hope to craft their own version of health care reform by August. Republican leadership in the Senate hasn’t entirely made their plan clear as to whether they will scrap the AHCA altogether, or work within the bill’s parameters. Senate leadership has asked for outside assistance from health industry organizations, which appears to be paying off.

The AMA is beginning to signal its willingness to work with lawmakers to achieve comprehensive health care reform. Gurman told The Wall Street Journal Sunday that the AMA is not “philosophically opposed” to repealing and replacing Obamacare, but its chief concern is making sure that whatever replaces Obamacare “is better than what we’ve got.”

The American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals have written letters to Republican leadership to offer their suggestions on how to improve the U.S. health care system. Others have privately suggested alternatives to Senate Republicans plans to immediately roll back funding for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion program–a contentious point of debate between moderate and conservative senators. (RELATED: The Divide Among GOP Members Of Congress Isn’t Going Anywhere)

AARP, one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the U.S., hasn’t budged on health care reform. The group continues to fight against the AHCA, and dead set on blocking the bill in the Senate. “AARP is taking a strong stand against the American Health Care Act for one simple reason: it is a bad bill,” AARP’s Vice President Nancy LeaMond told WSJ in the Sunday article.

Even if the Senate is able to pass some version of health care reform that sits well with industry groups, the House and Senate must pass the same bill before it makes its way to President Donald Trump’s desk for approval. Facing unanimous opposition from Democrats and a divide among moderate and conservative Republicans, repealing and replacing Obamacare will continue to be a formidable challenge for lawmakers.

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