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ACP: With Postponement of ACA Repeal Vote, It’s Time for Congress to Go Back to the Drawing Board

Attributable to:
Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, MACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, D.C., March 23, 2017 -- While it’s clear that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) does not currently have the votes tonight to pass the House of Representatives, there is a chance that it could be brought back at any time, so the fight to stop this destructive bill is hardly over. The American College of Physicians (ACP) urges Congress to put aside this fundamentally flawed bill and go back to the drawing board to work with us and other patient advocates to craft meaningful legislation with real solutions for our health-care system. The goal must be to expand existing coverage and consumer protections available under the Affordable Care Act, rather than taking them away as the AHCA would have done.

While we are encouraged that the AHCA vote was postponed because of lack of support, ACP is also very much aware that the bill could still be brought back for a vote, potentially with changes to gain votes that would make it even more detrimental to patient care by further eroding coverage and consumer protections. For this reason, ACP will continue to use every available resource to urge Congress to bury the AHCA, once and for all. Next week, more than 7,000 ACP members will attend our annual meeting in San Diego, Internal Medicine Meeting 2017, and we will be calling on them and our chapters to help us keep the pressure on Congress.

In lieu of the current bill, Congress should instead take this opportunity to start over and develop legislation, with the input of ACP and other patient advocacy groups, that covers more people, maintains and builds upon existing requirements that insurers and Medicaid cover essential benefits, lower deductibles, make premiums more affordable, and preserve the existing federal commitment to Medicaid—including support for Medicaid expansion—while allowing for state innovation. Other issues, like reducing the crushing administrative burdens on doctors and patients, and supporting the critical role played by primary care physicians in providing accessible, high quality and cost-effective care to all types of patients, should also be addressed in any new legislation. Coming back with a warmed over, somewhat revised version of the fatally flawed policies in the AHCA must not be an option.

Instead, Congress has another chance to ensure that they first, do no harm to patients, by bringing forward new legislation that actually results in improvements over current law, rather than taking coverage and benefits away from millions of patients.

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The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States. ACP members include 148,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact: David Kinsman, APR (202) 261-4554, dkinsman@acponline.org