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Internists Say ACA Enhancement Act Would Improve Access to Health Care

Washington, DC (June 29, 2020)—In a letter sent to leaders of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor Committees today, the American College of Physicians (ACP) applauded the committees’ efforts to put forward legislation to improve upon the policies in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

“ACP has long endorsed policies to achieve universal health insurance coverage and supported passage of the ACA in 2010. The ACA literally transformed the U.S. health care system by extending access to coverage, providing consumer protections and essential benefits, and improving quality of care for millions of Americans,” wrote Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, president, ACP.  “Now more than ever, as this nation struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans need access to affordable care and coverage with all the current-law safeguards and protections in place so families do not fall into financial ruin due to a catastrophic illness, such as the coronavirus.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425) was passed by the House of Representatives on Monday afternoon.  The legislation is designed to strengthen and expand on the policies in the ACA.  

“Despite impressive improvements in insurance status, access to care, and economic security measures, the ACA is still not a perfect law, nor can it be, and several repeal efforts combined with poor stewardship threaten to exacerbate the law's problems,” Dr. Fincher continued in the letter. “ACP believes the ACA needs to be further strengthened and, in May 2019, ACP released a new position paper entitled, “Improving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's Insurance Coverage Provisions,” as published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. ACP’s paper calls for efforts to bolster the ACA, including stabilizing the health insurance market, expanding Medicaid, increasing competition in the marketplace, and amplifying awareness about how the ACA works to help patients and how to enroll in coverage plans.“

In the letter, ACP went on to detail its support for policies in the legislation, including:

  • Establishing a health insurance affordability fund to help reduce out-of-pocket costs for individuals enrolled in qualified health plans.
  • Rescinding the short-term limited duration insurance regulation, since those plans are not required to comply with any of the ACA’s consumer protections.
  • Incentivizing Medicaid expansion by increasing matching federal funds provided to states who choose to expand their Medicaid programs after 2014.
  • Providing Medicaid pay parity for primary care services so that clinicians are paid no less than Medicare rates.
  • Permanently reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Since its inception in 1997, CHIP, together with Medicaid, has helped to reduce the number of uninsured children by a remarkable 68 percent.
  • Establishing a fair drug pricing program to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug manufacturers to set a maximum fair price for certain drugs.

“ACP is glad to see the House of Representatives is putting forth this effort to improve the ACA and improve access to health care for the American people,” said Dr. Fincher. “With the health crisis our country is facing due to COVID-19 we should all be working toward strengthening our health care system and not supporting efforts that would tear it down. Now more than ever we need to reject efforts that would prevent people from accessing health care services.”

Read the detailed recommendations in the letter here.

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About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 159,000 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, Facebook, and Instagram.

Contact: Jackie Blaser, (202) 261-4572, jblaser@acponline.org