Don’t Put Affordable Care Act in Limbo, American College of Physicians Warns
A Senate budget resolution for 2017 might “start a process that could result in repeal of essential coverage and consumer protections.”
Today the American College of Physicians (ACP) kicked off the New Year with a warning to several US senators: don’t approve a budget package that curtails the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
In a letter addressed to Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Michael Enzi (R-WY), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), ACP President Nitin S. Damle, MD, expressed “strong concern” that the Senate’s budget resolution for fiscal year 2017 might “start a process that could result in repeal of essential coverage and consumer protections established by the [ACA] while destabilizing coverage in the meantime, resulting in tens of millions of Americans losing coverage, benefits, and other protections established by current law.”
Essentially, the resolution would allow a pathway that leads to a subsequent vote on a budget reconciliation bill, an ACP press release explains. This bill, if passed, would repeal certain aspects of the ACA at a future date. During this limbo, Congress would work on creating a replacement for the ACA, a process that the nonprofit group calls “unworkable and disruptive.”
According to Damle, the chaos in insurance markets could translate into 7 million people losing coverage in 2017. Full repeal of the ACA could mean nearly 60 million people become uninsured, he says.
Damle acknowledges in his letter that the “ACA is not perfect . . . and improvements to it can and should be made.” Still, he stresses, “our commitment to ensuring that patients have access to affordable coverage and medical care obligates us to urge the Senate to vote no on the budget resolution.”
Yesterday, the ACP along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Family Physicians sent a joint letter to numerous members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, urging them to move cautiously as they “consider reforms and revisions to current law and our current healthcare system.”