Hospital, physician groups pan GOP health proposal

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The Republican plan to replace Obamacare has not found a receptive audience among the nation’s largest organizations representing healthcare providers.

On Wednesday, the U.S.’s biggest advocacy group for doctors came out against House Republicans’ legislation, adding to growing opposition from the country’s top trade groups for physicians and hospitals.

In its letter to Congress, the American Medical Association said it “cannot support the AHCA as it is currently written,” referring to the American Health Care Act, as the Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The AMA letter adds to growing chorus of objections to the bill, which would eliminate much of Obamacare and replace it with smaller tax subsidies to buy health insurance. In the last several days, other major physician groups, including the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association, have said they have serious issues with, or outright oppose, the plan.

The biggest hospital groups, the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals, have also said they have serious concerns with the proposal.

“We cannot support The American Health Care Act in its current form,” the American Hospital Association, which represents about 5,000 U.S. hospitals, said in its letter to Congress. The Federation of American Hospitals, which represents for-profit chains including HCA Holdings and Community Health Systems, also said it had “significant issues” with the plan.

“We want to make sure that whatever comes out of this change really supports particularly those low-income Americans, who frankly don’t have the resources to afford coverage,” Chip Kahn, CEO of the hospital federation, said Wednesday at the health insurance forum in Washington.

The legislation is going to be considered by two House committees as Republican leaders attempt to quickly get it to the floor for a vote. Congressional actuaries have yet to issue a “score” that will show how much it will cost or save taxpayers, and how many people will lose or gain insurance.

Obamacare provided insurance to about 20 million people, bringing the nation’s uninsured rate to a record low. Under the Republican plan, about 2 million to 4 million people would lose coverage in the individual market starting in 2020, while another 4 million to 6 million would lose their Medicaid coverage, according to an estimate from S&P Global Ratings.

The GOP plan has run into problems outside the health sector, as well. Conservatives have said they may not support it in Congress, which could imperil its passage in the House, or in the Senate, where Republicans have only a razor-thin majority. It’s also been panned by health experts, who say it will reduce insurance coverage and provide weak coverage.

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