What Do Doctors Think of the Graham-Cassidy Bill to Replace the ACA?

 

By Dana Collins Bussing, MD, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Naperville, IL,

Farah Abdulla, MD, Dermatology, Chicago, IL,

 Ramsey Ellis, MD, Hand Surgery, Elmhurst, IL,

and Robin Favor, MD, FACS, LaGrange, IL

 

The American College of Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all oppose the newest attempt at Trumpcare—the Graham-Cassidy bill.

This bill allows discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions (52% of adults under age 65). Graham-Cassidy allows limits on lifetime benefits (premature babies, children with cancer, and those with genetic conditions presenting in childhood could reach lifetime limits quickly). It ends requirements for essential health benefits—including pregnancy care, mental health care, birth control, emergency services, preventative services, prescription medications, and rehabilitation. These services not only increase length of life, but quality of life. Ending essential health benefits would be disastrous.

Under the guise of providing “flexibility” to the states via block grants (which end in 2026), the Graham-Cassidy bill cuts Medicaid funding drastically. Block grants allow the states “flexibility” to figure out how to continue to provide Medicaid coverage with significantly less money in a time where the cost of care is increasing. It is not the cost of seeing a physician that is increasing, but the cost of medications, treatments and procedures. Science may be creating new diagnostic tests and life saving medical treatments, but the Graham-Cassidy bill keeps them from the people who need it most.

Our patients will suffer when they have insufficient health care coverage or none at all. Money will be wasted, and people will die. Treatable diseases will be diagnosed much later, resulting in higher mortality and higher costs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As medical professionals, we base preventative care recommendations on years of science that is replicated and validated before bringing it to our patients.

Rather than attempt to decrease health care costs by limiting the number of people who are insured, we urge Congress to focus on bipartisan efforts to lower the costs of health care and improve quality of health care for all Americans. This is not a question of whether people should have health care—that premise should be a given. The debate should be on how to extend these benefits to all Americans. We challenge any senator or house representative to come to our hospitals and explain to our patients why, after a lifetime of hard work, they cannot access the care they need for themselves or a loved one.