Kelly Thibert, DO, MPH National President
American Medical Student Association
Sterling, VA – March 24, 2017: The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) applauds the activism and advocacy of individuals, organizations and Members of the House of Representatives who helped to ensure that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) did not become a reality today and that 24 million people did not lose health coverage. The failure to vote on the AHCA proves that the health care of America cannot be rushed, cannot be created in secret and cannot be developed without input from key stakeholders, such as health care providers and patients. Pulling this bill before a scheduled vote today demonstrates that members of Congress are listening to their Constituents and are aware of how damaging the passage of a bill, such as the AHCA, would have been to health of our nation.
Under the previously proposed bill, the federal government would have cut its commitment to Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years, a reduction of 25 percent by 2026, which would have effectively deprived 14 million patients of Medicaid by 2026. This, coupled with elimination of the individual mandate, would have increased the number of uninsured by 14 million in 2018, 21 million in 2021, and 24 million in 2026, according to estimates of the Congressional Budget Office. Ultimately, the total number of uninsured if the bill were to be fully phased in would have been 52 million Americans and this is unacceptable.
As physicians-in-training, we feel it is our moral obligation to speak out on behalf of our patients who rely, survive and thrive because of the health care they are able to receive through the existing system. Replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the AHCA would have been disastrous for health in our country and caused unnecessary suffering of our patients.
At a time in our country when health care is evolving to benefit our patients, when we are starting to see people who could not previously afford insurance able to tend to their health needs – we now see the administration looking to pull the carpet out from underneath these patients. These patients, who rely on their coverage to remain healthy, to maintain jobs, to care for their loved ones, to be active members of their communities. When we take away health care from our communities, we effectively take away health and the ability of all to reach their fullest potential.
AMSA supports a publicly and progressively financed, privately delivered federal single payer system of high quality, affordable health care for all persons. As such, we urge Congress to take this unique opportunity to move beyond the ACA and support H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. In the absence of such of a single payer system, we will continue to support a health care system which expands comprehensive coverage and access for all persons living in the United States and does not discriminate, such as the ACA.
We are America’s physicians of tomorrow and we value access to health care. While the bill may have been pulled today, we remain vigilant, as the administration has proven that they will stop at nothing to deprive our country of the right to health care. We are wary that this is not the end and AMSA will continue to fight for the care and rights of our patients. We will continue to advocate for the improvement of health care and health care-delivery to all people. We will always fight to protect our patients.
AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at http://www.amsa.org.