Yesterday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) issued a press release stating that an amendment proposed by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) provides “protection and certainty for patients with pre-existing conditions.” Eight leading patient groups, listed below, issued the following statement in response:
Despite the Upton Amendment, we remain strongly opposed to the American Health Care Act and urge Congress to consider the people at the heart of this decision. The various patchwork solutions offered by lawmakers would still leave the millions of patients we represent, who have serious and chronic health conditions, at risk of not being able to access life-saving treatments and care.
There is no substitute for fundamental, unequivocal protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
The AHCA, including the potential amendment, would undermine vital safeguards against being charged more for insurance based on health status. Increasing funding for risk-sharing programs and consumer financial assistance does not address the legitimate challenges built into these proposals.
The other equally important problems with the AHCA remain, including:
- Allowing states to waive the guarantee of essential health benefits, which would:
- Segment the market into plans for sick people and plans for healthy people, driving up the cost of plans for people with serious health care needs
- Undermine the protection against annual and lifetime coverage caps, a critical safeguard for patients
- Eliminating Medicaid expansion coverage for millions of Americans and altering the program's financing structure in a way that jeopardizes coverage of new and innovative treatments
- Increasing out-of-pocket costs for many Americans, including some of the sickest and elderly among us
Given the numerous shortcomings of the American Health Care Act in serving the patients we represent, our organizations have no choice but to oppose this legislation and urge all Representatives to vote against it, with or without the Upton and MacArthur amendments.
Patient Advocacy Groups:
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
March of Dimes
National Organization for Rare Disorders
National MS Society
WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease