Hospital groups slammed the latest draft of a healthcare bill from Republicans designed to repeal and replace portions of Obamacare, saying that it contains "unacceptable flaws" and urging senators to start over.
The American Hospital Association, which represents more than 5,000 hospitals, took particular issue with cuts to Medicaid funding in the bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
The bill maintains the same changes to Medicaid as in the first draft, including by rolling back expansion in states that allowed coverage to go to all low-income residents. Over the long term it allows states to choose between receiving a fixed amount of federal dollars from Medicaid as a per-capita cap or a block grant and re-configures the program's growth rate to match overall inflation rather than to its current, faster-increasing medical inflation.
"If enacted, the Better Care Reconciliation Act would mean real consequences for real people — among them people with chronic conditions such as cancer, individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and support, and the elderly," said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.
America's Essential Hospitals, a group whose facilities work with vulnerable patients, including those on Medicaid and people who are uninsured, called the bill "entirely unacceptable" largely because of the changes it would make to the Medicaid program. It also attacked the $45 billion in funding for the treatment of opioid addiction as falling far short of how Medicaid would have funded it.The group took issue with an amendment that would allow insurers to offer plans that covered fewer benefits. Under the draft, the legislation would set up a fund that would make payments to insurers to help cover the cost of high-risk, disproportionately expensive customers who are enrolled in the exchange. To qualify, an insurer would need to offer minimum coverage that has a wide range of medical benefits and cover people with pre-existing illnesses. They could offer coverage off the exchange that would be exempt from nine requirements.
"Making a bad bill worse, the Senate added measures that would destabilize the private market by creating a two-tiered system that funnels the sick and others most in need of affordable coverage into the highest-cost plans," said Dr. Bruce Siegel, president and CEO of America's Essential Hospitals.
He urged the Senate to stop its efforts to repeal Obamacare and to work with Democrats on solutions.