Patient Groups Reiterate Opposition To GOP Obamacare Repeal Bill

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

As the White House signals a renewed push to bring the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill to the House floor, a coalition of patient groups reiterated their concerns with the legislation, the American Health Care Act, and came out against the latest round of changes made to the bill that let states waive out of certain Affordable Care Act insurer mandates.

“We are alarmed by recent harmful changes to the AHCA, including provisions that will weaken key consumer protections. These changes include allowing states to waive the requirement for essential health benefits, which could deny patients the care and treatment they need to treat their conditions,” the groups, which represent patients with chronic diseases and other health issues, said in a statement Monday. “Another change allows states to waive protections against health status rating. Weakening these rules would enable insurers to charge higher prices to people with pre-existing conditions, possibly making insurance unaffordable for those who need it most.”

The patient groups signing on to the statement were the American Cancer Society, the Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, JDRF, March of Dimes, the National Organization for Rare Disorders, the National MS Society and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

An amendment to the bill to let states apply for waivers from certain ACA insurer mandates was unveiled last week as a compromise between Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the leader of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, and a prominent moderate, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), who co-chairs the centrist Tuesday Group.

The changes did appear to shore up the support of the conservatives. However, some of the moderates who were initially in favor of the legislation appeared nervous about the changes and whether they would violate previous promises by Republicans to protect consumers with pre-existing conditions.

In the statement Monday, the patient groups said that they opposed this latest version of the bill and that they “urge Members of Congress to reject this legislation.”