The American College of Physicians (ACP) sent a letter to Capitol Hill this week, urging the new Republican-controlled Congress to refrain from repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACP warned that efforts to dismantle the law before discussion and formulation of replacement policies would lead to “massive losses of coverage and consumer protections” for those enrolled in Medicaid programs and commercial insurance markets.
“The College does not support legislative changes to the ACA that would eliminate or weaken key consumer protections [and] lead to fewer people having access to affordable coverage, and/or loss of such protections in the future,” wrote Nitin S. Damle, MD, president of the ACP.
The ACP asked that Congress approach any healthcare reform with an eye toward improving the system while not harming the patients themselves. The letter asserted that outright repeal of the ACA, absent a suitable replacement, would lead to a massive increase in the number of uninsured, loss of coverage for those with preexisting conditions, and unreimbursed care costs across the country.
According to a study cited by the ACP, 58 million people in the United States would be without insurance coverage if the ACA were rescinded.1 Another analysis concluded that 52 million people in the United States (27% of the population) have a preexisting condition that would make them uninsurable in the commercial insurance market that existed before the ACA.2
“Without delay, we are taking action,” proclaimed Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, in a press conference yesterday.3 The GOP leader said his party plans on crafting an alternative to Obamacare, but will still move to immediately repeal the ACA as it promised during the 2016 election campaign. Ryan said Republicans would propose “a truly patient-centered system with more choices and lower costs.”
The ACP said that although it opposes repeal and replacement of the ACA, improvements should be made to the healthcare system. Expanded consumer choice was primary among these, including more diverse insurance products and access to physicians and hospitals. The ACP also said it welcomes bipartisan approaches to stabilize insurance markets.
“Our sincere hope is that Congress will join with physicians, nurses and other health professionals…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,” Dr Damle concluded.
- Blumberg LJ, Buettgens M, Holahan J. Implications of partial repeal of the ACA through reconciliation. Washington, DC: Urban Institute. Published online December 6, 2016. Accessed January 10, 2017.
- Claxton G, Cox C, Damico A, Levitt L, Pollitz K. Pre-existing conditions and medical underwriting in the individual insurance market prior to the ACA. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation. Published online December 12, 2016. Accessed January 10, 2017.
- Obamacare is failing: Speaker Ryan’s remarks from leadership press conference. Published online January 10, 2017. Accessed January 10, 2017.
This article originally appeared on Rheumatology Advisor