As the Senate inches towards a vote on its version of healthcare reform legislation, the influential American Medical Association (AMA) has declared itself against the measure.
“On behalf of the physician and medical student members of the American Medical Association (AMA), I am writing to express our opposition to the discussion draft of the ‘Better Care Reconciliation Act’ released on June 22, 2017,” said James L. Madara, M.D., CEO of the largest group representing physicians in the United States.
“Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm.’ The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels,” Madara said.
Throughout the health system reform debate, the AMA has urged that reforms not result in individuals with health insurance losing access to affordable, quality coverage; that Medicaid, CHIP and other safety net programs be adequately funded; and that key market reforms, such as pre-existing conditions, be maintained. The Senate draft, however, violates many of those principles, Madara said.
In the letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Ill.), Madara said the AMA is "particularly concerned with proposals to convert the Medicaid program into a system that limits the federal obligation to care for needy patients to a predetermined formula based on per-capita-caps."
"Per-capita-caps fail to take into account unanticipated costs of new medical innovations or the fiscal impact of public health epidemics, such as the crisis of opioid abuse currently ravaging our nation," the letter said.
Many Republicans have been dismayed at the widespread opposition to the measure, but reports from Capitol Hill say that McConnell is confident he can achieve passage of the bill over the next five days before Congress adjourns for the July 4 recess. An unlimited amendment process is in place, giving senators a chance to hammer out a compromise.
Voters worried about healthcare
McConnell had a net negative approval rating — more of his constituents gave him a negative review than a positive one -- something that's unusual for a longtime senator. The poll found that 47% of McConnell's constituents disapproved of him while 44% approved.
That's an improvement since the 2016 election, however, when McConnell had a disapproval rating of 51%.
So it could be argued that, although he is still unpopular with the folks back home, he's not as unpopular as he once was.