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Entire health care industry fights to kill Republican repeal bill

It's almost impressive: in a very short period of time, Republicans have managed to write a repeal plan that the entire health care industry hates.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham talks to a reporter as he arrives at Capitol Hill in Washington U.S. on May 10, 2016. (Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters)
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham talks to a reporter as he arrives at Capitol Hill in Washington U.S. on May 10, 2016.

There was a line in a Politico article yesterday that I read twice, because it was such a striking detail about the state of the health care fight: "To date, not one major health care industry or advocacy group has expressed support for the Graham-Cassidy plan."

That's not an exaggeration and it's no small development. Next week, the Senate is poised to vote on overhauling the American health care system, and at this point, the bill's Republican supporters have managed to persuade no one but themselves. Medical professionals hate the Graham-Cassidy plan, as do hospital administrators and every major patient-advocacy organization in the country. To a very real extent, GOP lawmakers are going up against literally everyone who has a stake in the American health care industry.

And that includes insurance companies.

The health insurance industry, after cautiously watching Republican health care efforts for months, came out forcefully on Wednesday against the Senate’s latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that its state-by-state block grants could create health care chaos in the short term and a Balkanized, uncertain insurance market. [...]The two major trade groups for insurers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, announced their opposition on Wednesday to the Graham-Cassidy bill. They joined other groups fighting the bill, such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP and the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society.

As the New York Times' report added, private insurers have been "reluctant to speak out" against Republican plans, but they now believe they don't have much of a choice.

Indeed, in a rather ironic twist, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) warned that the GOP proposal would be so destabilizing to the system that it might help pave the way for a single-payer system -- effectively turning the Republicans' current talking points on their head.

But even putting that aside, we're left with a bizarre dynamic. When the Affordable Care Act was taking shape, Democratic officials went to great lengths to work with stakeholders throughout the system, listening to their concerns, involving them in the process, cultivating their support over the course of many months. The idea wasn't exactly complicated: if policymakers are going to make fundamental changes to the health care system, it makes sense to work cooperatively with the health care industry.

Republican leaders are trying a different approach in which they ignore the health care industry and tell their members to impose systemic changes that the industry does not want.

As we discussed the other day, it's not always easy to get health care providers, hospitals, insurers, and patient advocates to agree, but Graham-Cassidy has managed to pull everyone together, join hands, and work cooperatively on a single goal: defeating this dangerous legislation.