American Heart Association Says Senate Health Care Bill Misses the Beat

June 22, 2017 Categories: Advocacy News

Washington, D.C., June 22, 2017 – Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, issued the following comments on the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017,” discussion draft released today by the Senate Republicans: 

“The Senate draft health care bill is literally heartless. If passed it would erode the very patient protections and coverage Americans need the most.

That’s not surprising given that the legislation was drafted without the normal Senate committee review process.  This tight timeframe makes it impossible for the people who know the health care system best – patients – to weigh in on this legislation before the Senate vote.

Our analysis of the proposed GOP health care reform plan indicates that, relative to current law, it significantly diminishes the existing Medicaid program, reduces access to quality coverage, raises premiums for older and low-income individuals and limits benefits. Despite its name, this isn’t better care.

Under this legislation, federal support for Medicaid expansion would be rolled back, depriving low-income Americans of health care. In addition, the bill would cap Medicaid funds, cutting off care for seniors, children, pregnant women and the disabled. It’s important to preserve Medicaid coverage and address the subsidy and coverage gaps for those who remain uninsured.  We cannot sacrifice one for the other.

Premiums for older Americans will increase as much as five times and tax credits will be far more limited than under the Affordable Care Act. Out-of-pocket costs will also rise because these credits will be linked to insurance plans that offer fewer benefits.  

Americans with pre-existing conditions will likewise suffer under this proposal because it would give states the ability to discriminate against the sick by obtaining waivers for essential benefits. States can then create their own essential benefits packages which could exclude prevention benefits, rehabilitation and habilitation services – all critical for people with cardiovascular disease. Insurance plans in these states will be allowed to impose annual and lifetime caps on benefits for those with chronic conditions.

From our perspective, the draft Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 could have dire life-changing consequences for many heart and stroke patients. The association will not support it or any other repeal bill without changes that will improve quality health care access for all Americans.”

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Media ContactRetha Sherrod (202) 785-7929 retha.sherrod@heart.org