AMA Would Rather Prop Up Obamacare Than Work to Lower Premiums
Last week, American Medical Association (AMA) President Andrew Gurman appeared on NPR to discuss the latest developments in the Republican negotiations to repeal and replace Obamacare. Instead of supporting efforts to move the discussion on health care reform forward, the AMA showed more interest in protecting Obamacare’s failing legacy.
After conservatives raised concerns that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) left Obamacare’s costly regulatory structure in place, a potential compromise was reached over the recent Easter recess.
The MacArthur-Meadows Amendment would allow states to opt-out of core elements of Obamacare’s Title 1 Regulations — responsible for the nationwide average increase in premiums of up to 68 percent. By opting out of some of these insurance regulations, like essential health benefits and parts of community rating, states can take meaningful steps to increase choices and lower premiums for patients.
While the amendment does not make the AHCA a full repeal of Obamacare, which the GOP promised their constituents for years, it moves the discussion forward and provides states with the flexibility to stop a potential Obamacare “death spiral.”
Rather than focusing on ways to lower premiums and provide patients with quality health care, the AMA seems content with Obamacare’s regulatory regime. CEO Andrew Gurman slammed the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment saying it makes the ACHA “much worse.”
If the goal is to expand affordable coverage, lowering costs must be the priority. As we’ve seen, mandates, subsidies and taxes have sent markets into a tailspin, driving up costs, forcing insurers out of the market, and leaving patients with few options.
A number of reforms can provide relief to patients and stabilize markets. For instance, Congress can set rules encouraging continuous coverage and state-high risk pools to help those with pre-existing conditions. Equalizing the tax treatment of health care will help lower costs and give patients more control. Even allowing insurers to sell across state lines can promote competition and choice.
Reforms centered on deregulation and increased competition will create healthy marketplaces and lower costs for everyone. The AMA should stop defending Obamacare and work with Republicans to get good health care policy signed into law.