On behalf of the 4,900 family physician, family medicine resident, and medical student members of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, I write to express concern over the actions of Congress on health reform. Currently, the U.S. Senate is working behind closed doors to draft legislation that could change the future of health care in America. The approach of the U.S. House of Representatives to health reform led to the truly flawed American Health Care Act (AHCA) -- legislation that would weaken benefits and cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance.
Family physicians provide comprehensive care to our patients. The AHCA would harm many of those patients. While the secrecy of the Senate process makes it impossible to know just exactly what the Senate version of the AHCA will contain, most experts predict the bill will contain elements similar to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that passed the House. Analysis of the House version shows that 539,700 people in the state of Ohio would lose their health coverage under the AHCA. And, Ohioans on average would experience dramatically increased premiums under the AHCA -- an average of a $990 increase in their annual premium by 2018.
The AHCA threatens the health security of people who have pre-existing conditions or cannot pay for skyrocketing premiums or copayments and deductibles. It doesn't address the real-life challenges people have with health care. The policies in the AHCA disguise discrimination as flexibility and make health care less accessible and more expensive for those who need it most.
Health reform is needed, but we must maintain the gains in patient protections provided by the current law, and I encourage Congress to work towards a bipartisan solution.
I urge readers to contact Senator Rob Portman and ask him to oppose any legislation that will deprive the citizens of Ohio of meaningful health care coverage. It is important that patients not lose access to care because they have lost affordable health insurance.
Ryan D. Kauffman, MD, FAAFP
Family Physician, Bellefontaine, OH
President, Ohio Academy of Family Physicians