The AHA on June 16 urged the Senate to make continued health care coverage a priority as it deliberates the House-passed American Health Care Act, legislation to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“Health care coverage is vitally important to working Americans and their families,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack wrote to senators. "We therefore ask that the Senate protect our patients, and find ways to maintain coverage for as many Americans as possible by rejecting the AHCA, including its elimination of Medicaid expansion, untenable cuts to the Medicaid program, dilution of consumer protections, and inadequate tax credits for individuals purchasing coverage on the exchanges.”

The Senate today returned to Washington as Senate leaders race to ready their legislation before the Fourth of July recess.

The AHA sent its letter to senators the day after health care leaders and patients gathered in Cleveland to call on the Senate to protect affordable and adequate health coverage for patients as the health debate continues in Washington, D.C.

“I can tell you from my experience as a practicing physician and as a physician involved in population health [that] coverage – or the lack of coverage – has real and serious implications for our patients' health,” said James Misak, M.D., vice chair of community and population health for Cleveland-based MetroHealth System. He noted that patients who have gained coverage under the state's Medicaid expansion report “an increased ability to work, better identification and treatment of chronic physical and mental health conditions, and less family financial stress. This is exactly what health insurance is supposed to do...It is for all of these reasons that we call on the Senate to reset the discussion, to revise or reject the [American Health Care Act] proposal and protect health coverage.”

The event was organized by the AHA, AARP, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, Federation of American Hospitals, and March of Dimes. Similar events are planned in Colorado, Nevada and West Virginia.

Meanwhile, The Coalition to Protect America's Health Care, of which the AHA is a founding member, continues to energize its online community of 1.4 million members and is running TV, radio, and digital advertising reinforcing the need to protect coverage.