Doctors, insurance companies and patient groups slam Graham-Cassidy

Insurance companies, doctors, patients, hospitals and other patient-provider groups are rallying together against the Graham-Cassidy plan, saying it could result in millions losing access to affordable health care and coverage.

It’s not often you see these interest groups align, but the latest Republican repeal-and-replace effort has done just that.

The effort led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., works by eliminating the individual and employer mandates, halting Medicaid expansion and redistributing those funds that would have been used for Medicaid to states in the form of block grants. Republicans say this gives states flexibility to design coverage plans that fit their constituents needs, but groups opposed are concerned about loss of Medicaid coverage and how the law might affect people with pre-existing conditions. While people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage by law, states could allow insurers to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.

Groups like the American Medical Association, which represents the nation’s doctors, and the American Health Insurance Programs, representing big insurers like Anthem and Humana, along with patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association have joined a growing list of organizations opposed to the Graham-Cassidy bill.

The AARP is asking members to call their lawmakers, saying it will harm the nation’s elderly. AARP released a study saying that Graham-Cassidy would mean big premium increases for older Americans, and would “decrease coverage and undermine preexisting condition protections.”

The American Medical Association said that the Graham-Cassidy bill violates the Hippocratic Oath taken by all doctors, “first do no harm.”

The National Association of Medicaid Directors released a statement saying that they’re “strong proponents of state innovation,” but they said that reforms need to be done with careful consideration and “not rushed through without proper deliberation.”

On Wednesday, insurance companies — who remained quiet about the bill for weeks — came out in opposition to Graham-Cassidy, saying they’re concerned about consumers losing coverage and paying more.

Some of the groups say they instead support short-term measures that would stabilize insurance marketplaces and make cost-sharing payments. Many say they will continue to support the kind of work that was attempted the bipartisan work of Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., that failed in committee.

This past summer, many of the same patient, physician and insurance groups also voiced opposition to Republicans’ “skinny repeal” health care push.

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