GOP healthcare bill passes House, drawing provider ire

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The GOP's bill to replace the Affordable Care Act passed the House by a narrow margin on Thursday, igniting responses from provider groups who fear the impact on Medicaid funding and care for seniors.

The bill passed on a 217-213 vote, sending it on to the Senate where it “faces profound uncertainty,” The New York Times reported. The bill's spending cuts — including those that would impact Medicaid — are likely to be “moderated” in the Senate, according to the NYT.

LeadingAge opposes the bill's plans to move Medicaid to a per-person cap system and “slashing Medicaid spending by nearly $840 billion over 10 years,” the group said in a statement to McKnight's.

“We remain concerned that this bill also removes key provisions to protect older people and those with serious illness,” LeadingAge said. “We believe that a full CBO score is needed and urge the Senate to reject this bill.”

Cynthia Morton, executive vice president at the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care, told McKnight's NASL is “concerned that the American Health Care Act allows the Essential Health Benefits to be waived, as this contains a rehabilitation therapy benefit for patients.”

“The EHB contains a rehabilitation therapy benefit that is vitally important to any person who needs therapy to recover,” Morton said. “Additionally, we remain concerned about the funding in the Medicaid portion of the legislation that would make major fundamental changes to Medicaid financing by putting in place per capita caps and block grants.”

American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson said in a statement that “we strongly encourage the Senate to focus on ensuring Medicaid access for seniors and people with disabilities as they take up this legislation,” since the House's bill would bring “significant changes” to the funding program.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma called Thursday “the first of what I am confident will be many historic days ahead as we move toward patient-centered healthcare instead of government-centered healthcare.” She also touted her 20 years working in Medicaid, and emphasized the importance that “our most vulnerable citizens, the aged, the infirm, the blind and the disabled have more choices, greater access and peace of mind when it comes to their healthcare.”

The bill's passage also was met with condemnation from the Center for Medicare Advocacy, American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and America's Essential Hospitals.