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Internists Underscore: It’s time for Congress to craft real solutions for U.S. health-care system

ACP says bill would have ‘done great harm to health of millions of Americans’

San Diego, March 31, 2017 -- The president of the American College of Physicians (ACP) today underscored ACP’s belief that the decision to pull the American Health Care Act (AHCA) bill from Congressional consideration a week ago reflects the reality that the flawed legislation did not have the support of the American people, or even a majority of the House of Representatives.

Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, MACP, president of ACP, and Bob Doherty, ACP’s senior vice president of governmental affairs and public policy, discussed ACP’s concern that the bill would have “done great harm to the health of millions of Americans” at a press briefing during ACP’s Internal Medicine Meeting 2017.

ACP has long advocated for improvements to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “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. The AHCA would have gone in the wrong direction by repealing many provisions of the ACA and substituting policies that would have rolled back coverage and consumer protections, including radical changes in how Medicaid is financed,” Dr. Damle said. “ACP also strongly believes that complex legislation like this that would affect coverage and access for so many should not have been marked up without hearings and direct input from ACP and other health-advocacy groups on the policies proposed in the AHCA.”

Dr. Damle pointed out that “It is essential that Congress take this opportunity to develop legislation that covers more people, maintains and builds upon existing requirements that insurers and Medicare cover essential benefits; lowers deductibles; makes premiums more affordable; and preserves 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, addressing the devastating opioid epidemic and achieving innovative medical liability reform, should also be addressed in any new legislation.”

Doherty and Dr. Damle summarized their remarks by saying, “ACP strongly believes in the first, do no harm’ principle to patients and makes changes that actually result in improvement over current law. Our sincere hope is that Congress will join with physicians, nurses and other health professionals; consumer and patient advocacy groups; hospitals, insurers; states, employers; and others to consider approaches that will result in improvements compared to current law in coverage, access, and protections, especially for lower-income patients and those with preexisting conditions and chronic illnesses, rather than rolling them back.”

About the American College of Physicians

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.