Washington, DC—The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) today issued a statement deeply critical of the draft health care legislation introduced yesterday in the Senate, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or BCRA. ACEP’s president, Dr. Rebecca Parker, said:
“Senators should vote ‘no’ on BCRA as it stands today. After holding out hope that the Senate would develop a bill more in line with our priorities, we are extremely disappointed that the Senate’s health care legislation is no better and actually worse than what was introduced in the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act. The draft that was introduced yesterday makes sweeping changes to the health care system that directly contradict ACEP’s principles and endanger patient safety and patients’ lives. It is a step backward from improving the health of the nation.
“Of immediate concern is the gutting of Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans who will likely be uninsured or underinsured as a result. The inevitable consequence of people losing their insurance is increasing in patient loads and crowding at emergency departments, which are already seeing record numbers of patients. Similarly, when patients have insurance with astronomical deductibles, they delay regular care until a problem becomes so acute they end up in the emergency department. This new legislation will create burdens on ERs that are unsustainable and dangerous.
“In addition, the loss of guaranteed coverage for emergency care – which was one of the essential health benefits of the Affordable Care Act – is basically a gift to insurers, who historically have always chosen to deny coverage when given the option. Access to emergency medical care is critical to all Americans, as is insurance coverage for that care. According to a recent poll, Americans overwhelmingly—95 percent—want health insurance companies to cover emergency medical care.
“We also have grave concerns that this bill does nothing to address the epidemic of opioid and drug dependence in the country, which led to a 99 percent increase in emergency department visits between 2005 and 2014. No members of the medical profession see the scourge of opioid addiction more than emergency physicians. The amount of money set aside by BCRA for treatment of the disease of addiction is no better than pocket change.
“Next week, Senators have an opportunity to offer amendments to address the numerous problems that currently exist in BCRA. We hope they are given ample opportunity to discuss and amend the gaping holes in this legislation. Our concerns, which are shared by virtually every other medical group, should serve as a wake-up call to all members of Congress. Without significant improvements, ACEP cannot support this bill and urges members to vote ‘no’ on BCRA.”