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Joey Johnson, National President
American Medical Student Association
A healthy, well cared for public is the cornerstone for a stronger United States of America. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) demands stability from the Senate—protect patients’ health care and vote to strike down the AHCA in response to the recklessness of the House of Representatives.
STERLING, Virginia – May 5, 2017 – The U.S. House of Representatives’ narrow passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by 217-213 votes yesterday is the groundbreaking for demolition of U.S. health care infrastructure as we know it.
As the future physician workforce providing care to America, AMSA is deeply concerned about the well being of Americans and the devastation this bill could have on tens of millions of people. “Our patients with cancer recurrence may now be considered to have pre-existing conditions and unable to afford treatment,” says Dr. Daniel H. Gouger, AMSA’s education and advocacy fellow. “This bill decimates coverage and services for millions of children cared for by Medicaid, low-income families, seniors, women, and nearly every segment of the American public. These are real people, our loved ones, whose lives are in jeopardy. As the future physicians charged with caring for America, we must stand strong and demand our Senators take action to end this bill.”
The recklessness of the House cannot be overstated as they passed this legislation without being scored by the Congressional Budget Office. Without objective financial analysis, the true economic impact of this bill is yet to be determined, underscoring the lack of commitment by the House to make well-reasoned improvements to America’s health care financing and delivery.
The House version of the AHCA will now go on to be reviewed and voted upon by the Senate. Notably, this new revision from the rejected March version:
- Erases important protections ensuring Americans receive appropriate care, now permitting states to opt-out of coverage for pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits, and pave the way for unsustainable high-risk insurance pools.
- Slashes federal funding to States for Medicaid expansion by over $800 billion over the next 10 years, a death sentence for some 11 million people who were covered under the expansion. Medicaid cares for nearly half of all children born in America each year. States will be pressured to stopgap this void by increasing taxes or redirecting funds from other sources, such as education and infrastructure.
- Rolls back requirements that Medicaid expansion plans cover reproductive health services, mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse treatment in the face of the opioid epidemic, the largest public health crisis of our generation.
To erect barriers to health care such that only some people can contribute fully in society violates human rights: Health care is not reserved for only those who are privileged enough to afford it. All people rely on their coverage to remain healthy, to maintain jobs, to care for their loved ones, and to be active members of their communities. When we eliminate health care, we effectively obstruct the ability of all to reach their fullest potential. This is not just a health care issue.
We are America’s physicians of tomorrow and we value access to health care. We remain vigilant while Congress continues their assault on Americans’ rights to health care, wellness, and a better future. We know that this is not the end, and AMSA will continue to fight for the care and rights of our patients, advocating for the improvement of health care and its delivery to all people.
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.