With the defeat of the effort early Friday to repeal the Affordable Care Act, people on both sides say more needs to be done, with some vowing to continue efforts to repeal it and advocates urging Congress to take action to strengthen it.
The Georgia Hospital Association had been opposed to the repeal effort because “the proposals being considered last night by the U.S. Senate, which would have resulted in millions more patients without health coverage, were not solutions we supported,” President Earl Rogers said in a statement Friday morning.
“For now, there is still no clear path forward for the hundreds of thousands of uninsured Georgians who lack meaningful access to health care,” said Rogers, originally from Augusta. “And there is little relief for our hospitals who endure more than $1.7 billion annually in uncompensated care.”
He did thank Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue for tweaking the legislation to provide additional Medicaid money for Georgia and pledged that the association would continue to work with the state’s leaders to find a solution.
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Georgia, who supported the repeal effort in the House-passed bill, said he would continue to try to overturn the law.
“Like President Trump, I am disappointed in some of my Senate colleagues,” Allen said in a statement. “Americans across the country have been faced with the failures of Obamacare for far too long. House Republicans are 100 (percent) committed to the fight to restore patient-centered, cost-effective and market-driven solutions to our health care system. We made a promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare, and I have no intention of breaking that promise.”
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., urged the Senate to keep trying to follow the House’s example. He called for “repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a health care system that lowers costs, empowers patients with more choice, and increases access to quality care.”
“While we in the House came to agreement on legislation that accomplishes those goals, I am disappointed that the Senate came up short,” he said in a statement. “I encourage my colleagues to continue doing the hard work required to save the American people from the disaster of Obamacare.”
Almost every national patient and provider group had opposed the effort, in part because of deep proposed cuts to the Medicaid program, and much still needs to be done to correct the flaws in the program, said Dr. David Barbe, the president of the American Medical Association.
“While we are relieved that the Senate did not adopt legislation that would have harmed patients and critical safety net programs, the status quo is not acceptable,” Barbe said in a statement. “We urge Congress to initiate a bipartisan effort to address shortcomings in the Affordable Care Act.
“The first priority should be to stabilize the individual marketplace to achieve the goal of providing access to quality, affordable health coverage for more Americans.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges thanked the Senate for voting down the measure but said legislators must now turn their attention to urgent efforts to shore up the insurance markets.
“The most immediate concern is stabilizing the health insurance market through continued, predictable funding of cost-sharing subsidies,” said associationPresident Darrell G. Kirch, a former dean of the Medical College of Georgia. “Without these subsidies, the markets will face significant strains that could be devastating for patients, especially those who are most vulnerable.”
Georgians for a Healthy Future called it a “win for Georgians” but also group also acknowledged that “our work is not over,” it said in a statement.
“Too many Georgians remain uninsured, continue to be burdened by high health care costs, face persistent health disparities or cannot access care when and where they need it,” the statement said. “Now it’s time for Georgia’s policy makers, health advocates, consumers, and health care stakeholders to come together and find solutions for these problems. We must build on the progress that has been made as a result of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act so that all Georgians have the coverage and care that they need.”
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.