AMA urges senators not to abandon bipartisan stabilization talks

AMA urges senators not to abandon bipartisan stabilization talks
© Greg Nash

The American Medical Association on Tuesday rejected the latest ObamaCare repeal bill and called on Senate Republicans to keep working on a bipartisan short-term market stabilization bill.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThrowing some cold water on all of the Korean summit optimism House Republicans push Mulvaney, Trump to rescind Gateway funds Congress should build on the momentum from spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.), the influential doctors' group also urged the Senate to “reject any other legislative efforts that would jeopardize health insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans.”

Instead, the group urged Republicans to work on a bipartisan effort to continue subsidy payments to insurers. President Trump has threatened to withhold those subsidies, which compensate insurers for lowering the out-of-pocket costs of low-income customers.

Ending the payments would likely lead to chaos in the private insurance market. Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMaternal deaths keep rising in US, raising scrutiny Supreme Court weighs future of online sales taxes Senators press administration on mental health parity MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes Duckworth brings her baby to Senate vote, drawing a crowd Maternal deaths keep rising in US, raising scrutiny MORE (D-Wash.) have been working on a bill to provide the payments in the short term while also giving states more flexibility.

With Senate leadership throwing its support behind the last-chance ObamaCare repeal, it’s unclear if that effort will continue.

Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyRepublicans have a long way to go toward fully repealing ObamaCare Senators press administration on mental health parity Longer sentences won’t stop the opioid epidemic MORE (R-La.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller Rand Paul under pressure as Pompeo hunts for votes Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination MORE (R-S.C.) are the main co-sponsors of the new bill. The legislation would end funding for ObamaCare’s subsidies to help people afford coverage and the money for Medicaid expansion, instead using that money for block grants to states. Democrats warn the block grants would be too small and would lead to cuts in Medicaid and other health spending.

The bill would also allow states to waive ObamaCare rules, including the prohibition on people with pre-existing conditions being charged higher premiums.  

“Similar to proposals that were considered in the Senate in July, we believe the Graham-Cassidy amendment would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care,” AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James Madara wrote.

The AMA also opposed the “skinny” ObamaCare repeal bill that failed in July, calling it a "toxic prescription.”