Lobbying by hospitals, doctors, slows GOP health care drive

Glen Mclaughlin
May 4, 2017

The stories and perspectives they bring to the debate are grounded in the local community and the impact on finances and well-being. Deep-pocketed medical associations are leading the charge, wielding their considerable lobbying clout on Capitol Hill. They say such tangible results outweigh the act's shortcomings.

SIEGEL: This bill is an update of the American Health Care Act that was proposed by Speaker Ryan and the White House a few weeks ago. Coloradans deserve better, and I will not stop working until they get it.

Accordin to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the health care sector was the sixth largest source of political contributions in the 2015-2016 election cycle, giving more than $268 million. The industry split its contributions fairly evenly, with a slight edge in gifts to Democrats.

Such groups by and large supported passage of Obama's law, but they also recognize its problems of complexity and cost, and are willing to support changes as long as coverage is maintained or keeps growing.

Tomorrow, the House will vote on the Republican "replace and repeal" plan for the Affordable Care Act, which they call the American Health Care Act. "Current law prohibiting pricing customers based on health status remains in place and can only be waived by a state if [it takes] care of the people through other risk-sharing or reinsurance mechanisms". He also said that he agreed there needed to be reforms in health care, particularly in coverage of pre-existing conditions.

With the changes in the bill now under consideration, he said, "I'm a "yes" now because, while that might not happen everywhere, we've empowered states to make those decisions for themselves". An amendment that won the support of much of the Freedom Caucus would allow states to seek waivers to the Obamacare rule that prevents insurers from charging sick people more than healthy people in the same age bracket. Consumers who've had a break in coverage could be charged more.

The Marshfield representatives cite gains that include 30,000 PPACA customers covered through the system's insurance plan, almost all of whom receive federal subsidies.

Medicaid also "reduces the financial burdens of getting care".

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The Affordable Care Act was among the likely factors that assisted with a big decrease - almost 50% - in personal bankruptcy filings in the last six years, according to a Consumer Reports analysis.

MGARA paid claims for these high-cost patients from a pot of money that came from the premiums within that high-risk pool, as well as from a $4 a month surcharge on all policyholders in the state. On a recent round of congressional visits, a Marshfield doctor told of a local knitting shop owner who had lost her vision in one eye.

Oddly, the new proposal eliminates one of the most popular parts of the ACA - the requirement that insurers offer affordable, adequate coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions.

"Being a physician and taking care of patients, these stories are repeated", said Turney.

Blunt's suggestion is to let federal health officials use existing ACA provisions to give states more flexibility in providing cheaper insurance and to make it easier for workers to obtain health insurance through their jobs.

Provide states with resources to develop tools to stabilize their insurance markets and create systems to serve their unique populations: the last seven years have shown us that a federally-run health care system does not work.

We don't think our readers with cancer, diabetes, heart conditions or high blood pressure care about consensus if ultimately it means they might be placed into a high-risk pool and pay more for their insurance.

"I don't think people really understand how serious this is", said Slayton, 50, of Charlottesville, Va. "Transport alone is $27,000 to $70,000".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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