The AHA Thursday called on the Senate to “go back to the drawing board” on its newly released Better Care Reconciliation Act, draft legislation to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. The AHA said the current version of the bill could hurt the most vulnerable Americans.

"From the onset of this debate, America’s hospitals and health systems have been guided by a set of key principles that would protect coverage for Americans," AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the draft bill under discussion in the Senate moves in the opposite direction, particularly for our most vulnerable patients.”

Pollack said the Senate proposal would likely trigger deep cuts to the Medicaid program that covers millions of Americans with chronic conditions such as cancer, along with the elderly and individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and support. “Medicaid cuts of this magnitude are unsustainable and will increase costs to individuals with private insurance,” he said.

A Congressional Budget Office estimate of the impact of the draft is not expected until early next week. Senate leaders are aiming for a floor vote on the legislation before the July 4th recess.

Protect coverage. The AHA and other health care advocates are pressing senators to protect coverage at nationwide events. At a June 21 event in Reno, Nev., patients and other health care advocates called on the Senate to protect coverage for patients as the health debate continues in Washington, D.C.

Speakers included heart disease and breast cancer survivors, a local business owner and mother, Nevada Medical Center CEO Alan Olive and Washoe County Medical Society President Andrew Pasternak, M.D. This was the second of four planned events around the country organized by the AHA, AARP, American Cancer Society Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, Federation of American Hospitals, March of Dimes and others.

Last week an event was held in Cleveland, OH, and future events are planned in Colorado and West Virginia.

The AHA on June 16 urged the Senate to make continued health care coverage a priority as it considers its health care legislation.

“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.”

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.