AMA Asking the Wrong Question on Obamacare Revisions

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The American Medical Association has announced its opposition to the Senate’s plan to revise (“repeal”) the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), stating that the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) violates the Hippocratic principle to “do no harm.” It also focuses, like the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), on loss of “access to…insurance,” which is not medical care.

“The question should be, would BCRA do more or less harm than ACA,” states Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). “The AMA, in constantly supporting ACA, has never addressed the harm this law has caused to millions of Americans.”

She listed harms including loss of insurance plans, often more than once; loss of long-standing physicians as patients are pushed into narrow insurance networks; physicians driven from independent practice by regulatory costs; enormous premium increases, some doubling or even tripling, while deductibles also soared; and the destruction of true insurance, which covers only large, unexpected costs, with premiums based on risk.

AAPS has advocated the total repeal of ACA and its replacement with freedom. “Only free-market competition can make medical care and health insurance affordable, and also increase quality, availability, and innovation,” Dr. Orient said.

“Since Congress has reneged on its promise to repeal ACA, especially the parts that make insurance unaffordable (‘essential health benefits’ and guaranteed issue), the best we can hope for is some escape hatches that could allow a free market to develop outside ACA,” Dr. Orient said.

AAPS favors allowing individuals and employers to choose to decline coverage without an IRS-imposed penalty, and the repeal of Obamacare taxes, which add to the cost of medical care and insurance.

“Although Medicaid spending must be reined in, BCRA would actually increase it over the next decade. Just as with ACA, more spending is unlikely to result in a corresponding increase in medical care; however, at least the Senate bill will give states more leeway to improve,” Dr. Orient said. “Billions are lavished on coverage before any medical services are delivered. If the food stamp program operated like Medicaid managed care, grocery stores would get billions for providing cards, even if the beneficiaries didn’t get any food.”

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in virtually all specialties and every state. Founded in 1943, AAPS has the motto “omnia pro aegroto,” which means “all for the patient.”

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