By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
A group of patient and consumer groups urged the Senate on Thursday to scrap the House-passed bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.
“[The Congressional Budget Office’s] new score of the [American Health Care Act] should seal its fate as a flawed bill that needs to be immediately discarded,” said a nonpartisan coalition of patient and consumer groups, including the American Heart Association, American Lung Association and March of Dimes.
The coalition’s response came after the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday released its long-awaited analysis of the House version of the American Health Care Act.
The bill would reduce the deficit by about $119 billion over 10 years but would leave a total of 51 million Americans without health insurance by 2026, the report said. The analysis also predicts patients struggling with pre-existing conditions and the elderly could be most negatively impacted.
Pointing to the massive loss of coverage cited by the report, the coalition said in a statement: “We implore the Senate to start from scratch and come up with a bill that puts patients ahead of politics and improves the health care coverage Americans have come to depend on under current law. We strongly believe the principles collectively endorsed by our coalition provide clear guidance to help lawmakers craft a more effective bill that will ensure everyone has affordable, accessible, and adequate coverage.”
The bill also would send insurance costs soaring for many consumers who have pre-existing health conditions, which in turn would help drop premiums for the healthy, according to the report by the CBO, a nonpartisan group of economists and budget analysts.
The new analysis came after House Republicans adapted a previous version of the bill that failed to get a vote because of a lack of support.
Senate Republican leaders quietly indicated Thursday they would continue to craft their own version of a healthcare bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.
The top-line estimates by the CBO are similar to another scorecard the office released on the House bill that was eventually withdrawn. In that report, the CBO found the previous measure would have resulted in 24 million uninsured people and about $150 billion in projected savings.
But the latest CBO assessment found that the biggest changes to Affordable Care Act regulations would be concentrated in states that choose to opt out of “essential health benefits,” or the list of medical services they are required to offer under the Affordable Care Act, such as hospitalizations and prescription drug coverage.
“In particular, out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year,” the CBO said in its report.
“Moreover, the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits would no longer apply to health benefits not defined as essential in a state,” it continued.
That means many people with specific conditions or who require expensive prescriptions could be priced out of the market.