Physician groups unite to pressure Congress for patient protections during reform
- The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Physicians (ACP) and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) joined forces to voice their concerns about patient access to care during healthcare reform.
- Leaders of the four organizations fear a disruption of the health insurance market will reverse patient access and other improvements seen since implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
- In a joint letter sent to congressional leaders, they urged Congress to ensure a safety net is in place for low-income Americans; to preserve premium assistance and cost-sharing subsidies; and to maintain protections for those with pre-existing conditions or family history of health problems, regardless of age, gender, race, national origin or disability.
The four organizations represent about 400,000 doctors and reminded legislators of improvements under the ACA and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and how easily such progress could be reversed.
Their concerns revolve around patient access to care, particularly preventive care services and services for children. Without the ability to obtain affordable coverage, it is feared that many patients will postpone or avoid care. Dr. Nitin S. Damle, president of the ACP, singled out working-class Americans as a vulnerable population. “Working class people are the ones most at risk of being priced out of having health insurance if premium and cost-sharing subsidies are eliminated,” she said, adding, “Many of these patients would delay or not seek care, leading potentially to serious health consequences.”
In their letter to Congress, the physician organizations did not ask for the Affordable Care Act as a whole to be preserved — at this point an unrealistic expectation. Republicans appear committed to repealing the ACA as soon as possible, despite the lack of a viable replacement. Although presumably many Americans also remain eager to see the ACA repealed, without such a plan on the table, calls have grown for specific items within the legislation to be preserved, such as parents’ ability to keep children on their insurance plans until the age of 26.