Senate Committee seeks physician input on ACA replacement

On Wednesday, January 25th, the Senate Finance Committee majority hosted a roundtable discussion with representatives of health care provider organizations to discuss options for replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This was the third in a series of ACA-related roundtable discussions the Committee’s staff have hosted over the past few weeks. Previous roundtables have included representatives of health insurance companies and employers.

The legislative consultant for the ACAAI Advocacy Council was among the select group of individuals invited to participate. Among the panelists were representatives of the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the Association of American Medical Colleges, as well as select safety-net provider organizations.

The Senate Finance Committee will play a key role, in conjunction with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, in developing the legislation that will result in the repeal and replace of the ACA. Although the roundtable was hosted by the Finance Committee, staff for the HELP Committee were invited to join in the discussion in order to facilitate a broader dialogue.

At the outset, Senate Finance Committee staff suggested that although no formal timetable for repealing and replacing the ACA had been laid out, they expect the process will take several months to complete. This roundtable was characterized as a beginning of a dialogue, not an end to the conversation. 

The representative of each organization was given an opportunity to make brief opening remarks highlighting some of the key ACA-related issues confronting their members – positive or negative.

Several key themes emerged from the assembled stakeholder groups:

  1. Medicaid access and payment continuation;
  2. Graduate Medical Education and workforce supply issues;
  3. Network Adequacy;
  4. Preservation of the safety net (hospitals and primary care); and,
  5. Ensuring stability in the market regardless of what changes are adopted.

During the question and answer period, there was considerable discussion about how to keep patients from unnecessary hospital admissions or ER utilization. Included in this discussion was improving treatment options and payment methods for patients with chronic diseases.

Within the next few weeks, the Finance Committee has plans to engage consumer representatives to obtain their input and opinions with respect to changes to the ACA.

The staff of the Finance and HELP Committees, and the staff for the individual Senators who serve on these Committees, expressed their appreciation for the insights and perspectives shared during the 90-minute roundtable. They reiterated this was the beginning of the dialogue and not the end. 

As the process of repealing and replacing the ACA works its way through Congress, the Advocacy Council will continue to publish updates on both the progress and substance of this initiative.