Public Release: 

American College of Rheumatology responds to House passage of American Health Care Act

Funding for high-risk pools is short-term fix for people with lifelong care needs, rheumatology leaders caution

American College of Rheumatology

ATLANTA - The American College of Rheumatology's President, Sharad Lakhanpal, MBBS, MD, released a statement today in response to the U.S. House of Representatives passing the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In the response, Lakhanpal expressed concern over the MacArthur amendment, states being able to opt out of essential coverage, and the $8 billion funding for high-risk pool being an insufficient, short-term fix.

"If enacted in its current form, the legislation would make it harder for our patients to access the care they need to manage pain, avoid long-term disability, remain active in the workforce, and preserve their quality of life, " said Lakhanpal.

"Changes made to the bill in recent weeks - specifically those outlined in the MacArthur Amendment - would allow states to opt out of many of the crucial consumer protections the ACA provides to chronic disease patients, including essential health benefits, the ban on health status underwriting, and the 3-to-1 age rating ratio. If states waive these protections, healthcare coverage will become unaffordable for individuals with pre-existing conditions like arthritis, and may lead to discrimination against individuals with certain high-cost medical conditions.

"Furthermore, the $8 billion in additional funding for high-risk pools is a short-term fix for people with life-long care needs. High-risk pools have been historically underfunded, and chronically ill patients seeking this type of coverage regularly experience soaring deductibles and premiums. Without an official score from the Congressional Budget Office, there is no way to assess whether the additional funding would be enough to offset coverage losses for people living with arthritis."

The ACR has outlined specific provisions that would need to be included in any replacement bill to ensure Americans have continued access to rheumatologic care.

The complete statement is available on the ACR website.

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The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is the nation's leading advocacy organization for the rheumatology care community, representing more than 9,500 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. As an ethically driven, professional membership organization committed to improving healthcare for Americans living with rheumatic diseases, the ACR advocates for high-quality, high-value policies and reforms that will ensure safe, effective, affordable and accessible rheumatology care.

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