NCHC Urges a “No” Vote on “Skinny Repeal” & Underlying Bill

NCHC Writer
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday morning, NCHC sent a letter to all Senators urging their opposition to forthcoming “skinny repeal” proposals, related amendments, and final passage of HR 1628. See the text of the letter here and below.

NCHC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization composed of more than 80 leading health care consumer, purchaser, provider and payer groups-dedicated to health care affordability. NCHC’s members represent as employers, members or congregants more than 150 million Americans.

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the National Coalition on Health Care, I write to communicate our strongest possible opposition to the latest health care repeal legislation, commonly referred to as the “skinny bill.” We urge you to vote “No” on this bill, related amendments, and final passage out of the Senate. At its core, this legislation is an exercise in cost-shifting that does little to address the fundamental affordability challenges confronting American health care.

NCHC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing more than 80 participating organizations, including medical societies, businesses, unions, health care providers, faith-based associations, pension and health funds, insurers, and groups representing consumers, patients, women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. The Coalition is committed to advancing – through research and analysis, education, outreach, and informed advocacy – an affordable, high-value health care system for patients and consumers, payers, employers, and taxpayers.

As reported in the media, the “skinny bill” would zero out penalties under the current law’s employer and individual responsibility requirements. This approach shares the fundamental flaw of the American Health Care Act, the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, and the Better Care Reconciliation Act; it uses reductions in federal support for coverage – especially state Medicaid programs – to finance a rollback of the Affordable Care Act’s revenue provisions.

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) December 8, 2016 analysis, the majority of the reduced outlays resulting from a repeal of current law’s individual responsibility requirement are attributable not to any new efficiencies or lower costs, but to a reduction in Medicaid enrollment. Furthermore, according to a CBO cost estimate released July 26, 2017, this “skinny bill” approach would result in 15 million fewer Americans with health coverage in 2018 and 16 million fewer in 2026.

Because of these serious negative consequences to families, businesses, and taxpayers at the state level, the National Coalition on Health Care cannot support this bill. However, there is an urgent need for bipartisan Congressional action to stabilize existing coverage arrangements, including the non-group market and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. NCHC also favors federal action to encourage state-led health reforms and to free up providers and plans to better combat chronic disease, strengthen primary care, invest in public health, and employ market-based strategies to tame high drug prices.

Persisting in efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act via reconciliation procedures only makes addressing these urgent challenges more difficult. We call on Senators of both parties to put this divisive debate behind them and begin the real work of making health care more affordable for the American people.

Yours Truly,
John Rother
President and CEO