On Monday, the House Republican caucus unveiled their long awaited health reform plan that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill, titled the American Health Care Act (AHCA), subsequently passed the two primary House committees of jurisdiction. The House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee held marathon hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, with the former lasting more than 27 hours while they considered amendments offered by Democrats (none of which were accepted). The vote approving the bill out of committee fell along party lines, with House Republicans voting unanimously in favor of the bill and every Democratic member opposing it.
Next week, we expect the bill to have a similar markup hearing in the House Budget committee, paving the way for the legislation to be introduced for a floor vote by the full House before the end of the month. On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release its score assessing the impact of the AHCA on the healthcare system, and it is expected to show a loss of health coverage reaching as many as 15 million individuals.
The Conservative House Freedom Caucus, which famously pushed Speaker Boehner out of office, has continued to push for a provision that would halt state Medicaid expansion by the end of this year. That provision would make it even more difficult for the AHCA to pass the Senate, where Republican Senators from Medicaid expansion states have said that provision would be a non-starter. With the bill expected to face a close vote in the Senate, the slim two-vote Republican majority means that only two Senators can defect.
Following the expected House vote before the end of the month, the Senate will likely try to bring it up for a vote in the first half of April, before Congress breaks for Easter recess.
Earlier today, ANA submitted a letter from President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, FAAN to Congressional leaders detailing our concerns over the House healthcare reform legislation introduced earlier this week. The letter details the bills shortcomings and expresses our opposition to the legislation in its current form.
ANA has serious concerns with a number of the bill’s key provisions that seek to do the following:
- Replace pre-existing condition discrimination protections with continuous coverage buy-in penalties
- Wind-down Medicaid expansion and fundamentally shift the program to a per-capita block grant funding structure for states
- Eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund
- Restrict access to women’s health services
- Repeal income-based subsidies in exchange for age-based tax credits
We’ll continue to closely monitor developments around healthcare reform, and urge you to continue to following Capitol Beat and our RN Action twitter account for the updates.
Republican House members just introduced their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
Their bill has been shrouded in secrecy despite the fact that they’ve had seven years to come up with a plan. In fact, when some lawmakers actually went hunting for the bill last week, they were told that it wasn’t ready yet.
Well, now it’s ready – but committee leaders are completely bucking the rules by not holding hearings on the bill.
That’s not acceptable. Health care is too important to leave the public – and nurses – out of the process.
We don’t have a moment to lose. Tell your U.S. representative right now: Congress must hold full hearings on this bill, and they must hear expert testimony from the people who see our health care system every day: Nurses like you.
This bill has the potential to dramatically change your life – as well as the lives of your patients. If Congress truly cares about improving healthcare for all Americans, they need to give this bill fair and open hearings, and they need to hear from nurses before moving forward.
No one outside of Republican members of the House have reviewed this bill yet – and so many questions need to be answered:
- How will this impact coverage and access for those with pre-existing conditions, or total lifetime caps?
- How will this affect access to insurance through subsidies and Medicaid expansion?
- What new rules could impact how nurses provide care, and how hospitals and clinics are administered?
Congress must answer those questions and more – and absolutely cannot shut nurses out. Patients trust nurses to give them straight answers – and Congress needs to hear straight answers from nurses now more than ever.
Demand Congress hold fair and open hearings where they can hear from nurses like you before moving ahead on something so important. Send your message right away.