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Providers denounce Senate GOP leaders’ healthcare bill


Leaders of the hospital sector and other major healthcare groups have denounced the Senate Republican leadership’s  Affordable Care Act repeal bill as  little or no improvement over the House bill, which  providers have criticized as imperiling the health of millions of patients.

Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, said of the”Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017”:

“Unfortunately, the draft bill under discussion in the Senate moves in the opposite direction {from protecting coverage}, particularly for our most vulnerable patients. We urge the Senate to go back to the drawing board and develop legislation that continues to provide coverage to all Americans who currently have it.”

Bruce Siegel, M.D., president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals, said: “For the hospitals that protect millions of Americans and their communities—our essential hospitals—this bill might even accelerate decisions by some to reduce services or close their doors.”

“The Senate healthcare bill released today is just as bad as the version passed by the House of Representatives last month and is a threat to the health of America,” said George Benjamin, M.D., executive director of the American Public Health Association. He asserted that  Senate Republicans had committed “legislative malpractice.”

David O. Barbe, M.D., president of the American Medical Association, chimed in with:

“The AMA is reviewing the Senate health system reform legislation, guided by our key objectives that people who are currently insured should not lose their coverage and that Medicaid, CHIP and other safety-net programs should be adequately funded. The AMA strongly opposes Medicaid spending caps, and we have grave concern with a formula that will not cover needed care for vulnerable patients.”

And  Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, said:  “First, we need to cover more people, not fewer people.” He suggested   a three-part test to determine what healthcare progress ought to look like: Does it achieve wider  access, affordability and better outcomes?

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma, a Trump appointee, not surprisingly, praised the bill.

“I appreciate the work of the Senate as they continue to make progress fixing the crisis in healthcare that has resulted from Obamacare. Skyrocketing premiums, rising costs and fewer choices have caused too many Americans to drop their insurance coverage. Today, Obamacare is in a death spiral and millions of Americans are being negatively impacted as a result. They are trapped by mandates that force them to purchase insurance they don’t want and can’t afford.” {The term “Obamacare” is usually used by Republicans as a derogatory term for the Affordable Care Act, the law’s official name.}

“The Senate proposal is built on putting patients first and in charge of their healthcare decisions, bringing down the cost of coverage and expanding choices. Congress must act now to achieve the president’s goal to make sure all Americans have access to quality, affordable coverage.”


A new blueprint for U.S. public health


1802 caricature of Edward Jenner vaccinating patients who feared it would make them sprout cowlike appendages.

A new blueprint is needed to guide  U.S. public health,  focusing on food and housing security, good schools and transportation, as well as directly on medical care and illness and injury prevention, wrote Karen DeSalvo, acting assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health & Human Services, and Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, in Health Affairs.

In other words, run American public health services more as governments do in the many other developed nations, in Western Europe and East Asia, that have far better health outcomes than does the U.S.

“Public Health 3.0” sees   public health leaders  as chief health strategists for their communities, in which there would be many cross-sector partnerships, including employers, insurers, education leaders and other stakeholders.

The blueprint would build on such earlier public health efforts as mass vaccinations, antibiotics, laboratory science, food and water safety and the professionalization and standardization of public health agencies.

“We must address the upstream drivers of health that touch everyone, no matter where they are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age,” the authors wrote. “Public health is the essential infrastructure for this work, but it needs to innovate, and in many ways, reinvent itself so that we have what it takes to ensure that the American people are healthy, ready, and competitive in this global economy.”

Giving urgency to their proposals is that after decades of life expectancy growing in the U.S.,  average levels have been flat over the past three years and have actually dropped in some areas.

“Cross-sector partnerships to improve public health are already occurring across the country. ‘The traditional ‘silos’ of medical, behavioral and social services can’t meet the needs of our population alone,’’ Jim Hickman, CEO of Better Health East Bay, in California, told Healthcare Dive recently. “Partnerships, enabled by technology and amplified by data-sharing, are the first step in changing the way we deliver care.”

Other Public Health 3.0 blueprint steps include ensuring that all public health departments are nationally accredited, thus providing communities with “timely, reliable, granular-level … and actionable data,’’ establishing metrics to measure public health programs’ success and more flexible and sustainable funding sources.

To read the Health Affairs article,  please hit this link.

To read a Healthcare Dive analysis, please hit this link.

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