Bipartisan effort urged on healthcare

July 22, 2017 GMT

When it comes to improving health care for Americans lawmakers should heed the advice of the nation’s doctors.

The advice: Fix, don’t replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

On Friday, the nation’s largest doctors’ group urged senators to stop trying to repeal or replace Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and instead begin a bipartisan effort to stabilize the insurance marketplace.

The American Medical Association said proposed Republican bills to repeal and replace the 2010 health law and the other to repeal only would cause too many people to lose coverage.

“Each bill results in millions more Americans without health insurance coverage, weakened markets, less access to affordable coverage and care, and the undermining of funding for state Medicaid programs,” wrote Dr. James L. Madara, the group’s CEO, in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The AMA, which has a quarter-million members, called for bipartisan cooperation, starting with action to support unstable insurance markets. The AMA letter said the group is willing to work with Congress to address longer terms goals such as unsustainable trends in health care costs.

“Senators from both sides of the aisle have expressed interest in pursuing remedies to stabilize the individual market and foster greater availability and choice of health plans. We urge Congress to take this initial step,” the letter said.

Lawmakers should take the doctors’ up on their offer and get input from those directly responsible for medical care of Americans.

Democrats have acknowledged that Obamacare needs to be fixed and Republicans have not proposed a viable solution.

The Congressional Budget Office said that McConnell’s latest bill would produce 22 million additional uninsured people by 2026 and drive up premiums for many older Americans. Congress’ nonpartisan fiscal analyst said the repeal-only bill would mean 32 million additional uninsured people over a decade and average premiums doubling.

Democrats leader have said they would be open to compromise bills that would improve the Affordable Care Act but only if Republicans dropped the ideas of repeal or undermining it by declining to enforce its key provisions.

Some moderate Republicans, who are in the minority in the GOP, said they would be open to compromise.

“The Senate should take a step back and engage in a bipartisanship process to address the failures of the ACA and stabilize the individual markets,” said a statement from Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.