GOP shunned lobbyists to pen ‘patients-centric bill’
An extensive list of major organizations
that are opposing a Repub- lican health care overhaul measure were consulted as it was crafted, but the White House says those groups’ views were rejected in favor of a “patients-centric bill.”
From the American Medical Association to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, to the American Hospital Association to the AARP, a seemingly ever-growing list of influ- ential groups that backed the Obama administra- tion’s 2010 Affordable Care Act are opposed this time around. But they are part of the Washington “swamp” of plugged-in policy influencers that President Donald Trump vowed to drain, his White House made clear
this week. The groups cited a pano- ply of reasons for their oppo- sition, saying the GOP bill, called the American Health Care Act, would strip too many people of coverage, create coverage that was too expensive, and complicate Medicaid coverage for millions.
As the Obama administration was crafting its health care law, officials kept those groups involved, and incor
porated their views while crafting the legislation. And the groups stated their support, or at least neutrality, before it hit the House and Senate floors. This time around is a different story. The White House
said that while it would “love” to have every association on board, Trump administration officials felt no need to give Washington-based health and medical groups a seat at the table, or even consider their insights.
“This isn’t about how many special interests in Washington got paid off,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at his daily briefing Wednesday, referring to associations that represent and lobby on behalf of medical industries, physicians and more than 30 mil- lion senior citizens.
“I have respect for some of the work that some of these ... D.C.-based associations do,” Spicer said, although some, like the Chicago-based AMA, are not based in Washington. But “at the end of the day, this is about patients and the input from doctors who are on the front lines of see-
ing patients ... and the care they are able to give and not give to people.”
The health-sector groups “got a really good deal last time,” he said. “This is a patients-centric bill.”
sSenior Republican aides reported little surprise that the health care associations are opposed to the measure.
“It’s not surprising that groups that helped pass ACA don’t want to see it repealed,” said one House GOP leadership aide.
And another senior Republican described the groups as having had “many opportunities to offer their feedback and voice their suggestions throughout the entire monthslong process leading to this bill.”
In a statement, the American Medical Association said it had been in “frequent communication” with the Republican and Democratic leadership offices, as well as relevant committee chairmen and ranking members.
“The Affordable Care Act needed to be improved, but we emphasized that people who were insured because of it should not lose their coverage under a replacement,”
the AMA’s statement read David Certner, legislative counsel at the AARP,
said the substance of the bill does not match AARP’s health care overhaul goals — nor, he said, did it match the campaign-trail rhetoric of Trump and congressional Republicans, who promised a replacement that would
not result in people losing health insurance coverage.