The nation’s doctor groups are once again rallying to the defense of the ACA after the U.S. Justice Department filed a brief that doesn’t defend the law’s popular protections for patients with preexisting conditions.
At the American Medical Association annual meeting this week, doctors are discussing numerous ways to protect patients, updating its lobbying agenda to include ways to support the ACA. The AMA’s House of Delegates, which represents scores of national, state and local physician groups and specialty societies, meets through Wednesday in Chicago.
The AMA and most physician groups have long supported the ACA given longstanding policy to expand access to health care and medical coverage.
But the Trump Justice Department is providing a new threat to key aspects of the ACA after government attorneys filed a brief supporting Texas and 19 other states and their attempt declare as unconstitutional protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.
Separate from the anger from doctors at this week’s AMA meeting, six national doctor groups are urging the Justice Department to reconsider its decision, particularly in light of broad support from Americans and the medical community for protections they say prohibit “insurers from denying or increasing premiums” just because a patient has a certain illness.
“The elimination of these protections could result in millions of people facing limited access to health care coverage and higher cost as a result of insurers being allowed to return to discriminatory coverage and pricing practices,” the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, and American Psychiatric Association said in a statement.
“As physicians who provide a majority of care to individuals for physical and mental conditions, we can speak clearly that these insurance reforms and protections are essential to ensuring that the more than 130 million Americans, especially the more than 31 million individuals between the ages of 55 and 64, who have at least one pre-existing condition are able to secure affordable health care coverage.”
At issue is whether insurers should be subject to community rating and guaranteed issue rules that help millions of Americans with preexisting conditions. Insurance companies, too, don’t want the rules to go away, fearing the end of such patient protections will destabilize the individual insurance market.
“Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019,” AHIP said last week.
“Instead, we should focus on advancing proven solutions that ensure affordability for all consumers.”
AHIP represents several health insurance companies that sell individual coverage on and off the ACA’s public exchanges including Centene, Oscar Health, Anthem, Molina Healthcare and several Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.