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 McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report Republican strategist: Trump is 'driven by ego' Senate GOP campaign arm asking Trump to endorse McSally in Arizona: report MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh Montana GOP Senate hopeful touts Trump's support in new ad Strong job growth drives home choice for voters this election 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 AlexanderGovernor's race grabs spotlight in Tennessee primaries A single courageous senator can derail the Trump administration GOP worries trade wars will last as Trump engages in temporary tiffs MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate Dems press Sessions for records on racial discrimination complaints Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press Overnight Health Care: Drug price fight heats up | Skepticism over drug companies' pledges | Ads target HHS secretary over child separations | Senate confirms VA pick 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.

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Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyEnergy Department clears ‘small-scale’ natural gas exports for fast approval GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Lawmakers pitch dueling plans for paid family leave MORE (R-La.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhite House staff offered discounts at Trump's NJ golf club: report Graham: DOJ official was 'unethical' in investigating Trump campaign because his wife worked for Fusion GPS Sunday shows preview: Virginia lawmakers talk Charlottesville, anniversary protests 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.”