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 McConnellDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Democrats press for action on election security Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall 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 AlexanderHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayEXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Trump's sinking polls embolden Democrats to play hardball 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 CassidyEXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Republicans grumble over Trump shifting military funds to wall Push on 'surprise' medical bills hits new roadblocks MORE (R-La.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump fires back at Graham over Iran criticism Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US Republicans wary of US action on Iran 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.”