As Republicans in Congress prepare to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and 10 other nonpartisan patient groups are urging lawmakers in Washington to keep health insurance affordable, accessible, adequate and understandable for all Americans.
The 11 organizations will evaluate all proposed changes to the ACA, also known as Obamacare, based on a set of Consensus Healthcare Reform Principles announced March 6. In principle, the National MS Society argues that any new plan cannot endanger whatever healthcare coverage Americans already have through their employers, the marketplace, Medicaid or Medicare.
Besides maintaining current plans, the groups insist that any healthcare reform should extend coverage of underinsured people, as well as lower costs and improve healthcare quality for everyone.
More specifically, they say, affordable coverage entails reasonable premiums, cost-sharing solutions and limits on out-of-pocket spending. In addition, patients with pre-existing conditions should not be excluded or have to pay higher premiums, while low-income individuals should have access to adequate financial assistance.
“Three key elements — affordability, accessibility and adequate coverage — must be included in any meaningful proposals to alter the current system,” reads the statement, which also supports keeping current lifetime and annual caps, as well as other measures to protect patients. “These issues have received bipartisan support and are viewed as fundamental in health insurance coverage.”
In addition, the 11 patient organizations argue that “health insurance must be more than a promise of coverage.” In other words, a health insurance plan needs to provide the required benefits with an adequate provider network.
Besides these core principles, the MS Society and its partners state that any healthcare reform proposal must focus on preventing of disease, thereby allowing people to lead healthier lives while cutting healthcare spending.
“We look forward to working with Congress, the administration and the broader healthcare community to achieve these shared goals that are of vital importance to the health of all Americans,” said the statement.
The National MS Society underscored that one of its top priorities remains keeping healthcare coverage accessible, affordable and comprehensive for people with MS. It also supports the use of language that is easily understood by both patients and healthcare providers so patients and healthcare providers can make the best treatment decisions.
The 10 other entities involved in this initiative are American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, JDRF, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Organization for Rare Disorders, and Women Heart: the National Coalition for Women and Heart Disease.