The Republican endeavor to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with their own American Health Care Act (AHCA) is back on the agenda. The updated version of the bill that failed in the House of Representatives in March was adopted this time by the slimmest of margins with no single Democrat voting in favor.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., applauded the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives, calling it “the first step toward a patient-centered healthcare system that will provide Americans access to quality, affordable healthcare coverage, empowering individuals and families to choose the coverage that best meets their needs.”
Most major medical groups reject the AHCA.
The American Medical Association (AMA) is strongly opposed to the reform. “Last-minute changes to the bill allowing states to apply for waivers from critical consumer protections under current law and providing additional funding for high-risk pools and reinsurance mechanisms failed to remedy the fundamental flaws of the bill,” the AMA said in a statement.
The American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians and several other medical associations issued a joint statement, pointing out that its members provide care to children, the aged, those with chronic conditions, and people battling addiction. “560,000 physicians and medical students oppose the American Health Care Act,” the statement reads which describes the AHCA as an “inherently flawed bill that would do great harm to our patients.”
“Regrettably, the AHCA, as amended and passed by the House, violates our principles, dramatically increasing costs for older individuals, resulting in millions of people losing their healthcare coverage, and returning to a system that allows insurers to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.”
The American Psychological Association (APA) expressed disappointment as well. “The American Health Care Act passed by the House today by a vote of 217 to 213 is significantly worse than the version considered last month,” said APA President Antonio Puente, PhD. “The bill now opens the door to health plans once again charging exorbitant premiums to the tens of millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. It is estimated that about 45 million Americans experience a behavioral health condition over the course of a year. The $8 billion payment to states for setting up a high-risk pool would cover only about 76,000 people -- this is barely a drop in the bucket.”
One of the behavioral health conditions likely to be severely affected by “Trumpcare” is addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) urged Congress to vote ‘no’, tweeting “the AHCA would decimate access to addiction treatment services. We need to help those suffering from addiction.”\
In March, ASAM called the existing Obamacare coverage “a critical lifeline for people with addiction, many of whom were unable to access treatment before the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid.” Instead of reducing “the burden of the opioid epidemic” and saving lives, the “AHCA will roll back these important provisions and will certainly reduce access addiction treatment and reverse much or all progress made on the opioid crisis last year.”
Not a good outlook considering the severity of the addiction crisis in America. The AHCA bill will now be debated in the Senate where it is expected to undergo significant changes.