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NPA Calls on Senators to Protect Health Care & Open Legislative Process

Posted by Becky Martin, NPA Advocacy Director May 25, 2017 at 5:19 PM

Today, the NPA sent the letter below to key Senate leaders. We encourage you to read on, consider sharing the letter with colleagues, and contacting your own Senators to express your concerns – click here to find their contact info.

NPA Calls on Senators to Protect Health Care & Open Legislative Process

Senator Orrin Hatch, Chair, Senate Finance Committee
Senator Ron Wyden, Ranking Member, Senate Finance Committee
Senator Lamar Alexander, Chair, Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee
Senator Patty Murray, Ranking Member, Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee
Senator Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader
Senator Charles Schumer, Minority Leader

Cc: Members of the Senate Finance & Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committees

Re: Senate Consideration of HR 1628, the American Health Care Art – Call to Protect Health Care and for Open Legislative Process

Dear Senators,

When we became physicians, we took an oath to care for our patients to the best of our abilities and judgment. We see every day that a person’s sickness (and lack of health) affects their family’s and community’s economic stability. As representatives of the people, you took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, which opens with the intent to “establish justice” and “promote the general welfare.”

We are physicians who work from coast to coast, in Hawaii and Alaska, in red states and blue. We have seen how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has improved access to healthcare for millions of Americans, and has made important steps towards better and more affordable care. Many of us work with patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and Tricare in the military health system. According to Gallup polls in 2014, 76-77% of participants were satisfied in those systems were satisfied with their care, as compared with 61-66% of those with private health insurance. These programs work, and with considerably less overhead costs than the fragmented morass of private insurance. To dismantle Medicaid as we know it, by instituting block grants or per capita caps, or to recycle the failed experiment of high risk pools for those patients with pre-existing conditions/diseases, would be to repeat mistakes and mislead and betray your constituents.

We are concerned about the secretive process that led to the recent passage of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives, and urge you to consider your duty to your constituents and fellow Americans by showing constructive and true leadership on health insurance in the US, and not by further dismantling our health care system which now provides health care to tens of millions more Americans, and protects patients who have pre-existing conditions.

There is near unanimous opposition from physician groups, disease advocacy groups, hospitals, insurance companies, and patient groups to the current House bill or anything resembling it.  NO significant patient, physician, or healthcare organization has come out in support of the House’s bill. How could they, with an estimated 14 million people in the first year alone losing coverage according to the CBO analysis.

As practicing physicians that take care of patients and families, we see how the ACA has benefited our patients and our communities by expanding access to care and improving the economic stability of patients, physician practices, and hospitals. The goal of any legislation you consider should be to expand access to care, not reduce it, especially in favor of a tax cut for people who don’t need it. Additionally, we urge you to oppose inclusion of provisions that cap the Medicaid program through block grants or per capita caps, or ends Medicaid Expansion. Your job as legislators: to “establish justice” and “promote the general welfare” as so many other countries do so much better than we do, and at much lower cost.

We strongly recommend that you reset your legislative goals by utilizing the “Triple Aim” framework developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, with goals of better care, lower costs for society, and improved health for our patients (citizens) and communities (population health) as your guide to expanding access for ALL Americans. We will continue to work together with patients, clinics, hospitals, payers, and our dedicated health professional colleagues to stand up for reforms that will make America a healthier nation for all.

We urgently demand open deliberations on any proposed health reform legislation, with public hearings.

Sincerely,

Jeff Huebner, MD, Board Chair
Susan Molchan, MD, Chair-Elect
Manan Trivedi, MD, MPP, President

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