May 04, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy Health Care Reform
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted to pass H.R. 1628, an amended version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
In response, the California Medical Association (CMA), representing over 43,000 physicians in all specialties and modes of practice, warned that this flawed policy will worsen both coverage and access to care for Californians, especially for Medicaid (Medi-Cal) patients, women and Californians living with pre-existing health conditions.
“Today the House of Representatives turned their backs on 24 million Americans and 3 million Californians who will be left without health coverage or access to care,” said CMA President Ruth Haskins, M.D. “The AHCA is irresponsible policy that shifts costs to states, patients and health care providers. We must craft health care policy that increases affordability and access to care - without sacrificing important protections for Californians living with pre-existing conditions and vulnerable populations, such as children and the disabled who rely on Medicaid for health care.”
The AHCA is not good news for Californians. It cuts Medicaid by $880 billion ($24 billion in California), dooming California to poorer access to care for Medi-Cal patients, at time when one-in-three Californians is dependent on the already underfunded system for health care. Fifty percent of rural Californians will lose coverage gained through Medi-Cal expansion or private insurance under the ACA.
Women, families and Californians already fighting life-threatening diseases will also suffer from allowing states to waive essential health care benefits, the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the erosion of protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. It will make insurance unaffordable for low- to moderate-income families by eliminating income-based tax credits. Without vital partners like Planned Parenthood, Californians struggling to gain access to a doctor or insurance coverage will have nowhere to turn for safety net care for reproductive health screenings and family planning.
“CMA strongly supports the pre-existing condition protections in the ACA, and the AHCA erodes these important protections by potentially pushing sick Californians into underfunded high-risk pools,” said Dr. Haskins. “We cannot afford to go back to a time when Californians with pre-existing health conditions were priced out of the market, stuck on waiting lists for care or told that they were not covered for life-saving treatments.”
U.S. Senate Republicans said Thursday they won't vote on the House-passed bill to repeal and replace the ACA, but will write their own legislation instead.
CMA urges U.S. Senate leaders to engage with physicians and other experts on the front lines caring for patients to develop a proposal that protects health care coverage for our most vulnerable populations, addresses affordability, and improves patient access to physicians.
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NOTE: Past AHCA-related press releases, op-eds and letters:
The California Medical Association represents the state’s physicians with more than 43,000 members in all modes of practice and specialties. CMA is dedicated to the health of all patients in California. For more information, please visit cmadocs.org, and follow CMA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.