Healthcare groups blast skinny repeal, warn premiums will spike

Healthcare groups blast skinny repeal, warn premiums will spike
© Greg Nash

Healthcare groups are coming out against the Senate GOP’s plan to pass a scaled-down ObamaCare repeal bill, saying it would spike insurance premiums.

The American Medical Association, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network are among the range of healthcare groups blasting the bill. 

The scaled-down, “skinny” repeal bill would repeal ObamaCare’s mandate for people to have insurance, which insurers and other groups warn would lead to a sicker group of enrollees and spiking premiums. 

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The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association warned of “steep premium increases and diminished choices that would make coverage unaffordable and inaccessible.”

“Eliminating the mandate to obtain coverage only exacerbates the affordability problem that critics say they want to address,” said Dr. David Barbe, president of the American Medical Association. 

“We again urge the Senate to engage in a bipartisan process — through regular order — to address the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act and achieve the goal of providing access to quality, affordable health care coverage to more Americans,” Barbe said.

The Congressional Budget Office previously found that repealing the individual mandate would lead to 15 million more uninsured people and cause premiums to increase by about 20 percent. 

Republican senators argue the scaled-down repeal bill will never actually become law, and is just a way to set up negotiations with the House on a larger plan. But the House is making no guarantees that it won’t simply vote on the bill and send it to the president.

“The continuing effort by Senate leaders to figure out by trial and error some bill that might gain the needed 50 votes to pass is a threat to millions of Americans including cancer patients and survivors who must have comprehensive coverage in order to access prevention and medical treatment,” the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said in a statement. 

“The legislation could cause the individual insurance market to collapse putting millions of American families at financial risk,” the cancer group said. 

In addition to repealing the individual mandate, the skinny bill would also defund Planned Parenthood, cut the ObamaCare prevention and public health fund, and repeal the employer mandate. 

Many healthcare groups have been strongly opposed to the GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare throughout the process, instead urging a bipartisan approach. 

Medicaid cuts had been a major focus, though those are not be included in the current bill. 

Regardless, America’s Essential Hospitals, which is strongly opposed to Medicaid cuts, said it is still opposed to the "skinny bill."

“While it doesn’t directly affect Medicaid, it still would badly undermine coverage and access by destabilizing the private marketplace,” Bruce Siegel, the group’s president, said in a statement. 

The AARP, a powerful senior group, also warned against it. 

“The bill will leave millions uninsured, destabilize the health insurance market and lead to spikes in the cost of premiums,” it wrote in a letter to congressional leaders. 

“AARP will inform our members and the public how their Senators voted,” the letter added.