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Minnesota doctors say Republican health plan is a bad deal for patients and a bad deal for Minnesota

The Minnesota Medical Association, which represents 10,000 physicians, residents, fellows and medical students in Minnesota, is saddened by the vote that took place in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month regarding the future of healthcare in America.

We have long-supported insurance coverage for all as a core health care reform principle. On this alone, the MMA opposed the American Health Care Act in its first iteration in March.

Later negotiations between House members and President Trump have only worsened the legislation.

As it stands, AHCA represents a significant step backwards, as an estimated 14 million fewer Americans would have coverage in 2018, growing to 24 million without coverage by 2026.

The proposal also threatens the viability of Medicaid (the healthcare safety net for low-income children, the disabled, and the elderly) by reducing federal financing and limiting future spending at levels below expected growth in health care costs.

Minnesota alone stands to lose more than $2 billion in just the initial 18 months of implementation, according to analysis by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The legislation will also allow states to apply for waivers from important patient protections included in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), including the requirement that health insurers cover certain essential health benefits and the ban on health status underwriting, which protects individuals from being discriminated against because of their medical conditions.

This provision would essentially gut the current protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions because coverage could be priced out of reach.

Replacing the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act is a bad deal for patients and a bad deal for Minnesota.

As the Senate takes up the legislation, we hope our leaders there will keep in mind the following principles endorsed by the MMA:

• Preserve the patient-physician relationship.

• Insurance coverage for all Minnesotans.

• Ensure access to appropriate care for all Minnesotans.

• Improve affordability of care.

• Invest in public health and prevention.

• Promote health equity.

• Support innovation in care delivery and payment.

• Advocate for broad-based, stable and adequate financing.—Dr. David Agerter, president Minnesota Medical Association