AOA Opposes House-Passed Healthcare Reform Bill; Urges Bipartisan Alternative in Senate

(May 8, 2017) The American Osteopathic Association joined other physician groups representing frontline medical providers in issuing a joint  statement urging the U.S. Senate to set aside the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and instead work with the medical community to achieve real bipartisan healthcare solutions to improve affordability, access and coverage for all.

After months of debate and public interparty disagreements, the House of Representatives, May 4th, passed the American Health Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628) in a narrow 217-213 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate where it faces an uncertain future.

The legislation was an amended version of the bill introduced by House Republicans in March, but then withdrawn shortly before coming to a vote. At that time, AOA President Boyd W. Buser, DO sent a letter to Congress  expressing the AOA’s  inability to support the legislation as originally proposed. 

The AOA’s decision to oppose the original version was made after comparing the AHCA’s provisions to the AOA’s priorities for health care reform, which are based on existing policy passed by the AOA House of Delegates. The AOA assessed the amended AHCA prior to its approval by the House last week and determined that the bill’s latest changes still did not meet stated priorities for health care reform.

In addition to maintaining previous provisions of concern, the amended bill allows states to waive requirements that insurers provide coverage to those with pre-existing conditions at no additional cost, instead relying on poorly defined “high-risk pools” that would use federal funds to offer insurance coverage to the sickest patients.

“Not only has past experience shown such programs provide inadequate coverage or access to care, but they are often more costly than simply ensuring access to affordable premiums regardless of health status,” said Buser. “I look forward to representing the AOA next week in Washington as physician leaders engage with key Senators to begin a new dialogue.”