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Society raises concern over health care reform developments

04/28/2017 12:40 PM | Jamie Michael (Administrator)

The Wisconsin Medical Society continues to voice concerns regarding HR 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which may receive a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives as soon as tomorrow.

The Society sent this letter to members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation earlier today, cautioning that the MacArthur Amendment, which was introduced earlier this week, does not solve the problems inherent in the AHCA.

“Instead, it pushes those decisions to the states while leaving unanswered important questions such as whether Wisconsin’s Medicaid program will be adequately funded under the AHCA. We believe the legislation as currently drafted could have dramatic negative effects on our state’s sickest and poorest citizens,” stated Society Board Chair Jerry Halverson, MD, and President Noel Deep, MD, in the letter.

The Society’s Board of Directors suggested a set of Health System Reform Principles earlier this year that calls for any health reform plan to ensure that Medicaid is properly funded, that those who currently have health insurance maintain coverage, and that some of the key patient protections encompassed in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) such as guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions and no lifetime caps for coverage be maintained.

The MacArthur Amendment—named for its principal proponent Rep. Tom MacArthur—would allow states to apply for waivers from some of the consumer protections provided in the ACA, including the age rating ratio of 3 to 1, the requirements that health insurers must cover certain essential health benefits, and the ban on health status underwriting.

The American Medical Association (AMA) also expressed concern this afternoon in a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“The current ban on health status underwriting protects individuals from being discriminated against by their medical conditions. Prior to the passage of the ACA, such individuals were routinely denied coverage and/or priced out of affordable coverage,” wrote AMA President James L. Madera, MD. “We are particularly concerned about allowing states to waive this requirement because it will likely lead to patients losing their coverage. Although the MacArthur Amendment states that the ban on preexisting conditions remains intact, this assurance may be illusory as health status underwriting could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable to people with preexisting conditions.”

The AMA is encouraging physicians to contact their U.S. Representative. Click here for more information.

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