Trumpcare changes spur backlash from advocacy groups: It "would dramatically worsen" AHCA

AP

House Republicans officially released an amendment to their Affordable Care Act repeal bill on Thursday, the contents of which are already being panned by advocacy groups like the American Hospital Association, which said the amendment "would dramatically worsen" the original bill.

The amendment, drafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), is a revised version of the GOP's American Health Care Act, the Republican health care plan that failed to pass the House in March.

The proposed changes allow insurers to waive popular provisions of the ACA — including "essential health benefits" such as prescription drugs and hospitalization — while also allowing insurance companies to charge sick Americans more for coverage. House Republicans, however, exempted members of Congress and their staff from being impacted by those changes, Vox reported Tuesday.

For that reason, major organizations — from the American Medical Association to the Catholic Health Association — have come out strongly against the changes, which they say make the GOP's ACA repeal bill worse.

House Speaker Paul Ryan announces the MacArthur amendment to the American Health Care Act on Thursday.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The AMA, the largest association of physicians in the country, told House leaders in a letter Thursday that the GOP health care plan would "result in millions of Americans losing their current health insurance coverage."

"Nothing in the MacArthur amendment remedies the shortcomings of the underlying bill," James L. Madara, CEO and executive vice president of the AMA, wrote in the letter.

The AHA, for its part, released a statement saying the changes "could significantly raise costs for those with pre-existing conditions."

"The changes included put consumer protections at greater risk by allowing states to waive the essential health benefit standards, which could leave patients without access to critical health services and increase out-of-pocket spending," the AHA said.

Meanwhile, the CHA, which represents more than 600 Catholic hospitals in the U.S., said the MacArthur amendment to the AHCA is "even more disastrous for people who have just gotten health care."

"Changing the current rules to undermine essential benefits requirements and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, as well as allowing insurers to set annual and lifetime caps on the care they cover, would seriously undermine health security and leave many individuals with substandard protection," Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the CHA, said in a statement. 

And the American Association of Retired Persons, one of the nation's most powerful lobbying groups representing retired Americans, said the changes will "have a significant harmful impact on the health of millions of older Americans ages 50 to 64."

"We intend to let all 38 million of our members know exactly how their representative votes on this bill in newsletters, in our publications, on social media and in other formats," the AARP said in a statement

During a news conference Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to say when the amended AHCA could come up for a vote.

There have been some reports the vote could take place before Saturday — which marks President Donald Trump's 100th day in office. Repealing and replacing the ACA within the first 100 days of his administration was one of Trump's major campaign promises.

Still, there has been no hearing on the proposed changes, and the Congressional Budget Office — a nonpartisan government organization that analyzes the potential impact of congressional legislation — has yet to assess the amended bill's impact.