Will the Senate's Changes Impact Patient Groups?

Changes to Healthcare and Patient Access Under the AHCA

Earlier this week, more than a dozen patient advocacy groups called for transparency in the Senate following closed-door negotiations over the American Health Care Act. The bill, which may replace the Affordable Care Act, was released today after closed-door negotiations among Republican lawmakers. Changes to the bill have many patient advocates wondering how the AHCA will impact patients and disease funding.

Groups including the American Heart Association have voiced concerns over the private talks and hope to meet with lawmakers prior to the bill’s vote in the Senate. The recent released details of the bill include amendments to Medicaid, waivers for many Obama-era healthcare inclusions, and tax credits. To understand how advocacy may be impact by the AHCA, we developed a list of Senate changes which could change the way patient groups navigate healthcare:

Medicaid, Interrupted

The Senate bill has retained the House bill’s cap on Medicaid spending until 2025. Under the bill, states would receive less funding for low-income Americans each year until 2025 when Medicaid spending growth is moved to CPI, a much slower growth rate.

Consequences: Many Americans currently receiving health insurance under the Center for Medicaid and Medicare could lose crucial coverage for disease treatment. The loss of both patients and funding means that many patient groups may lose the ability to continue advocating expanded disease and treatment research.

Waived Regulations

The new bill allows for states to opt-out of many healthcare regulations imposed by the Obama administration including maternity care, mental health treatment, and emergency services.

Consequences: Patient advocacy groups specializing in mental health and maternity care may lose both patient populations and face more difficult battles when advocating for adequate care.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Though the House bill allowed insurers to charge up to 30% more for health insurance to patients with pre-existing conditions, the Senate bill would not allow states to repeal the community rating provision. This ensures that patients in the same area are charged the same for insurance regardless of their health conditions.

Consequences: Patient advocacy groups fought against the pre-existing conditions clause after the House bill was re-introduced and passed in May. Now, groups can ensure that their patients are not discriminated against based on prior health complications.

Women’s Healthcare

Much like the House bill, the Senate’s AHCA would also restrict federal funding in organizations which provide abortions. The funding would, instead, be funneled through the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Consequences: Groups advocating women’s health care, in particular groups supporting Planned Parenthood, will face complications in gaining funding for regular healthcare treatments outside of abortions.