The reviews from medical groups of the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare are starting to roll in — and they’re not positive.
The American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and America’s Essential Hospitals all released statements condemning the Senate’s proposed bill. Representatives from the Federation of American Hospitals, the National Rural Health Association, and the Children’s Hospital Association also expressed their opposition to the bill to Stat News reporters Erin Mershon and Max Blau.
Bruce Siegel, president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals, which represents 300 health service providers, released a statement saying the proposed bill “will make our nation sicker, less productive, and less secure.”
Siegel expressed concern that “[f]or the hospitals that protect millions of Americans and their communities — our essential hospitals — this bill might even accelerate decisions by some to reduce services or close their doors.”
That would cost jobs — and it could cost lives, he writes:
It would kill jobs—more than 1.5 million nationally by some estimates, including tens of thousands in states as diverse as Maine, West Virginia, Arizona, and Alaska. It would undermine progress toward defeating national health threats, such as the opioid epidemic and others.
Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, an influential group credited with playing a key role in passing the Affordable Care Act, took issue specifically with the Medicaid cuts in the bill. “The Senate proposal would likely trigger deep cuts to the Medicaid program that covers millions of Americans with chronic conditions such as cancer, along with the elderly and individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and support,” he writes. “Medicaid cuts of this magnitude are unsustainable and will increase costs to individuals with private insurance.”
Pollack suggested that the Senate “go back to the drawing board and develop legislation that continues to provide coverage to all Americans who currently have it,” a sentiment other groups expressed as well.
The Association of American Medical Colleges president and CEO, Darrell G. Kirch, speaking on behalf of more than 500 medical schools and teaching hospitals, alleged that what health care the proposal did offer would be insufficient: “Despite promises to the contrary, [the bill] will leave millions of people without health coverage, and others with only bare bones plans that will be insufficient to properly address their needs.”
It wasn’t just medical groups, either. While the US Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobbying group, praised the bill for repealing “job-killing taxes,” the American Sustainable Business Council, an advocacy group representing more than 250,000 business owners, executives, and investors, likened the proposal to “sticking leeches on an already weak patient.”
In a statement, David Levine, CEO and co-founder of the American Sustainable Business Council, built the business case against the bill. Here’s Levine on the cost of health care to businesses in the US:
Healthcare costs can amount to over 20% of total employee compensation, and typically are the third largest expense for a business after labor and materials. In total, the U.S. spends 18% of its GDP on healthcare, with mediocre to poor health outcomes, while OECD countries pay less than 10% on average and have better health outcomes.
And at least one conservative group isn’t pleased with the Senate’s plan either. The Tea Party–affiliated group FreedomWorks’ president, Adam Brandon, released a statement saying the bill doesn’t go far enough to repeal Obamacare:
For more than seven years, Republicans ran on repealing ObamaCare, and voters responded by giving the GOP a majority in the House in 2010, control of the Senate in 2014, and the White House in 2016. Leader Mitch McConnell even said he would repeal ObamaCare ‘root and branch.’ This bill, however, breaks those promises.