Patient Support & Advocacy

Revised Senate bill fails to address core AMA concerns

A revised draft of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) was released Thursday, and new spending and coverage estimates from the Congressional Budget Office are expected to be released Monday.

In a statement, AMA President David O. Barbe, MD, MHA, said “the revised bill does not address the key concerns of physicians and patients regarding proposed Medicaid cuts and inadequate subsidies that will result in millions of Americans losing health insurance coverage.” Added funding to address the opioid epidemic “is a positive step,” he said, but “those suffering from substance-use disorder have other health care needs that are not likely to be addressed if they lose coverage through a rollback of the Medicaid expansion.”

Dr. Barbe added that alternative efforts to pursue bipartisan initiatives aimed at stabilizing the individual market should be the next step, and that “more bipartisan collaboration is needed in the months ahead to improve the delivery and financing of health care.”

The AMA will soon issue a fuller response after thorough examination of the draft legislation. The Association opposed previous versions of BCRA, based largely on the projected impact on the number of Americans who will become uninsured and reduced federal support for Medicaid. Direct written and personal communications with members of Congress represent one component of a broad-based advocacy campaign that the AMA has been pursuing throughout 2017. Other highlights include:

  • Focus groups held during March and April in Chattanooga, Denver, Philadelphia and Phoenix to hear directly from practicing physicians about their views of the benefits and shortcomings of the ACA and the health care system generally.
  • Patient-physician roundtable discussions held last April in Atlanta and Denver, where the impact of health insurance coverage on patients and physicians was explored in detail.
  • Public opinion polls conducted in select states, revealing that registered voters support Medicaid and are generally concerned about the direction Congress has been taking in rewriting current law.
  • Collaborative efforts with patient groups, hospitals and other providers, including media events held in Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, and West Virginia to share personal stories about the impact that access to affordable, meaningful health insurance coverage has had on individuals, families and communities.
  • An extensive patient and physician grassroots network campaign involving telephone calls, emails, social media contacts and meetings with key senators.

Physicians and patients who want to engage in the advocacy campaign to preserve access to affordable and meaningful health insurance coverage are encouraged to visit the AMA's campaign website, at Patientsbeforepolitics.org. The site explores the AMA's health reform objectives in depth and provides resource documents, patient profiles and grassroots action links to facilitate communications with their Senators.

Read more about the AMA's comprehensive vision for health-system reform, refined over more than two decades by the AMA House of Delegates, which is composed of representatives of more than 190 state and national specialty medical associations. Or explore the AMA Wire® special series, “Envisioning Health Reform.”