By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Director of Health Policy
GOP Announces Healthcare Replacement Plan Amid Strong Opposition
On March 8, 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The AHCA is becoming known to many on Capitol Hill as Trumpcare, and it’s already facing stiff opposition from Democrats and Republicans alike. Many conservative Republicans are calling it Obamacare 2.0 and expected a full repeal of the ACA. Moderate Republicans are unlikely to support the bill, because it could potentially strand millions without insurance coverage provided by the ACA.
Throughout the country, medical associations and healthcare providers unanimously decried the AHCA proposal. Those voicing their concern included the American Nurses Association, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and American Academy of Family Physicians. Even Medicaid’s top medical officer, Andrey Ostrovsky, broke from government tradition and voiced his concern of the GOP’s new healthcare plan. Unsurprisingly, no Democrat has been willing to support the AHCA for either ideologic or political reasons. With a very slim majority in the Senate, it remains to be seen if the AHCA will make it into law.
Trump’s CMS Nominee Confirmed
As part of the ongoing process to confirm new leaders throughout the federal government’s major programs, the Trump Administration nominated Seema Verma to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). On March 9, 2017, the Senate voted 54-44 to approve the nomination, and she was confirmed on March 13.
Verma has been hailed for her understanding of Medicare and Medicaid, and she’s worked at the state level in Indiana with former governor and current Vice President Mike Pence. But in this heightened partisan environment, her nomination as administrator of CMS came down to a close vote. Because her hearing was during a tumultuous week of action for the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, her nomination may have taken a hit. Her hearing, however, provided some insight into what may happen during her tenure at CMS.
Secretary Price Discusses Details of How ACA Repeal Will Happen
During an interview on a conservative radio talk show, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, Tom Price, MD, presented insights into why and how repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act will occur. He makes a strong case for patients, but this interview was before the House Speaker Ryan announced the American Health Care Act. With limited details of the repeal and replacement process, it’s interesting to hear Secretary Price’s thoughts on altering the state of health care in the U.S.
The first 25 minutes of the show provide information on what the next phase of health care will be like at HHS. Secretary Price also talks about how the shifting landscape of health care may impact federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Price also speaks about the ongoing leadership confirmation processes at both agencies.