(Washington, January 3, 2017)--In a letter sent today to leaders in the Senate, the American College of Physicians (ACP) implored them to vote no on a budget resolution that would start the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The College cautioned that this process could destabilize coverage, resulting in tens of millions of Americans losing coverage, benefits and protections established by current law.
The letter expressed concern that the pathway established by the resolution, which will lead to a subsequent vote on a budget reconciliation bill to repeal major elements of the ACA, with the effective date of such repeal being delayed while Congress attempts to develop an acceptable replacement plan, is unworkable and disruptive.
"Independent and non-partisan analyses show that enactment of such a "repeal, delay and replace" bill, especially without an alternative being offered now that could be thoroughly evaluated based on its impact on quality, access, and coverage, would create chaos in insurance markets, causing plans to pull out of the markets with more than 7 million losing coverage in 2017 alone," said Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, MACP, president of ACP in the letter. "Full repeal could result in nearly 60 million people becoming uninsured."
ACP noted that the College welcomed the opportunity to make improvements in the law. Specifically ACP welcomes discussion of ways to stabilize insurance markets by bringing more young people into them without disadvantaging older and sicker patients; to expand consumer choice of insurance products and of physician and hospitals; to ensure network adequacy; to support state innovation including in Medicaid provided that current eligibility, benefits, and protections for current and future enrollees are not undermined, to reduce administrative burdens on physicians and their patients, and to support the critical role played by primary care physicians in providing accessible, high quality and cost-effective care to all types of patients.
"While we acknowledge that the ACA is not perfect (and no law is) and improvements to it can and should be made, our continued support for the ACA is grounded in the fact that it has reduced the uninsured rate to the lowest ever, a major stride toward providing affordable coverage to all Americans," said Dr. Damle. "We encourage Congress to first put forward ideas for improvements rather than committing to a process that would repeal the ACA's coverage and protections for many millions of people."
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States. ACP members include 148,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness.