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Leading Patient Advocacy Groups Stand Together to Oppose American Health Care Act

May 1, 2017

The revised health care bill could erode protections for people with pre-existing conditions like multiple sclerosis. That’s why the National MS Society joined nine leading patient advocacy organizations in a joint statement of opposition against the American Health Care Act at the MacArthur Amendment. The group includes: The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, JDRF, March of Dimes, National Organization for Rare Disorders, and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. 

The position states:

Leading Patient Advocacy Groups Stand Together to Oppose American Health Care Act

Legislation would leave millions with inadequate, unaffordable care as they battle chronic and 
other major health conditions


Washington (May 1, 2017) –On behalf of more than one hundred million Americans battling chronic 
and other major health conditions, a coalition of 10patient organizations remains united in its opposition to the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In March, our patient advocacy organizations collectively urged Congress to ensure that any changes made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) provide affordable, accessible and adequate coverage and do not result in a loss of coverage for any Americans. The AHCA would do the opposite, causing at least 24million Americans to lose health insurance, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

As introduced, the bill would profoundly reduce coverage for millions of Americans—including many low-income and disabled individuals who rely on Medicaid—and increase out-of-pocket costs for the sickest and oldest among us. We are alarmed by recent harmful changes to the AHCA, including provisions that will weaken key consumer protections. These changes include allowing states to waive the requirement for essential health benefits, which could deny patients the care and treatment they need to treat their conditions.

Another change allows states to waive protections against health status rating. Weakening these rules would enable insurers to charge higher prices to people with pre-existing conditions, possibly making insurance unaffordable for those who need it most. States that waive health status rating protections would be required to set up a high risk sharing program, which may include a high-risk pool. Offering these risk sharing mechanisms as an alternative to affordable health insurance is not a viable option, particularly high-risk pools. Previous state high risk pools resulted in higher premiums, long waiting lists and inadequate coverage.

Weakening protections in favor of high-risk pools would also undermine the ban on discrimination based on health status. The individuals and families we represent cannot go back to a time when people with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage or forced to choose between purchasing basic necessities and affording their health care coverage. Given these factors, we oppose the latest draft of the AHCA. We urge Members of Congress to reject this legislation. 

As Congress considers this legislation, we challenge lawmakers to remember their commitment to their constituents and the American people to protect lifesaving health care for millions of Americans, including those who struggle every day with chronic and other major health conditions. We stand ready to work with Congress toward a proposal that ensures all Americans have affordable access to the care they need.
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About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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