PT: NYS Health Panel Weighs Future of The ACA

Health Panel Weighs Future of The ACA
By Josefa Velasquez Politico March 30, 2017

ALBANY — Following the failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, health officials are wondering what's in store for the law's future.

“We dodged a bullet. But the gun is still loaded,” Bea Grause, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State, said at panel hosted by the trade group that represents hospitals. "I hope that we can, through our collective efforts, work to help Congress think about a bipartisan solution. One that is based on reality.”

House Republicans pulled their replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, from a vote last Friday, thwarting President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace the ACA.

In the days since, the Republican president has had mixed messages on health care reform, blaming Democrats for sinking the bill, predicting that “Obamacare will explode” and saying that there needs to be bipartisan input on fixing the ACA. On Thursday morning, he eyed a new target — the Freedom Caucus in Congress.

"The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” Trump tweeted.

Given the president’s mercurial temperament, it’s hard to predict what will happen with the ACA in the coming months.

"There doesn't seem to be a coherent strategy to move forward," Grause said.

"There are issues with the Affordable Care Act as any law. Nothing’s perfect,” said Jim Malatras, president of the Rockefeller Institute for Government. “The question becomes how do you approach an imperfect law in an imperfect society in an imperfect political climate?

"You can use a scalpel like a heart surgeon. Or you can take a meat cleaver like a Civil War general and begin chopping off limbs,” Malatras added. "What the American Health Care Act did was a meat clever approach. Just chop up a program and maybe that program will live or die. We don’t really know.”

Bill Stretck, the chief medical and health systems innovation officer at HANYS, asked the panel — which included representatives from the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, AARP, LeadingAge, and the Medicare Rights Center — what was needed to stabilize the ACA.

"Let's start talking about the facts rather than making statements that make it seem like the whole health care system is going to implode,” Grause said, adding that the law should encourage insurers to participate in health exchanges.