UNITED STATES - JULY 27: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks back to his office from the Senate floor in the Capitol on Thursday, July 27, 2017, during the Senate's "Vote-A-Rama" series of votes on health care legislation. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

AMA calls skinny repeal toxic

The American Medical Association, the biggest organization representing U.S. doctors, blasted a “skinny repeal” option unveiled in the U.S. Senate Thursday night.

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“Action is needed to address problems in the individual insurance market, but the so-called ‘skinny’ bill is a toxic prescription that would make matters worse,” said David O. Barbe, the association’s president.

The plan would remove the penalty for individuals and employers to obtain coverage and remove a medical devices tax. That might come as welcome news for those who don’t want the government forcing them to buy insurance, but the practical effect is likely 15 million people will drop out of coverage and premiums for those remaining will rise 20 percent, the Congressional Budget Office projected.

“The skinny bill as policy is a disaster,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “The skinny bill as a replacement for Obamacare is a fraud.”

Senate leadership had to contend with opposition from groups from AARP to AMA.

“Eliminating the individual mandate will lead to adverse selection, triggering higher premiums and further destabilizing the individual market,” AMA’s Barbe said. “The stated goal was to advance policies to lower premiums, but the ‘skinny’ bill would do the exact opposite, harming patients across the country.

“Further, the bill would result in millions more Americans without health insurance coverage.

“Again, we urge Senators to oppose the ‘skinny’ bill and to pivot to a bipartisan effort, working through appropriate committees of jurisdiction and regular order to fix problems and gaps in current law to enable Americans to obtain quality, affordable health insurance.”

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