Cantwell: Hold the Line Against Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid & Keep ACA Delivery Reforms that Work for Patients

Amendment seeks to protect investments in the health care delivery system from GOP

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) filed an amendment to protect critical reforms made to the health care delivery system under the Affordable Care Act and in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The legislation is part of an all-out effort to protect the progress made over the last seven years through the Affordable Care Act.

The reforms protected in the provision bring health care providers together to serve the overall needs of patients, reward positive clinical outcomes, and achieve savings by eliminating unneeded or duplicative procedures and health care services.  The Institute of Medicine, a nonpartisan research organization, estimates that delivery system reforms could reduce health costs by as much as one-third while maintaining current benefits and even improving the patient experience. One example of these reforms, Medicare Accountable Care Organizations, saved $466 million in a single year. 

Senator Cantwell is warning Republicans that repealing the Affordable Care Act – and the positive changes in the health care delivery system the law has initiated – will do irreparable harm. Her proposal comes as Republican lawmakers attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and openly speculate about cutting Medicare and Medicaid.

“We need to make the health care delivery system work for the American people, deliver better outcomes, and continue to make reforms,” said Senator Cantwell. “We have to make some adjustments, but repealing is just stealing health care from hardworking Americans, and I urge my colleagues to turn that down.”

Cantwell’s amendment would use a legislative tool called a point of order to make it significantly more difficult to pass legislation that would make changes to Medicare, Medicaid, or the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits that would weaken investments in the health care delivery system. Examples of these reforms include Accountable Care Organizations, bundled payments, and medical home models, among others.

On Monday, Cantwell took to the Senate floor to speak out against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, emphasizing the devastating effects it would have on the health care delivery system.

Senator Cantwell has remained a champion for improving the health care delivery system in Washington state and throughout the nation. She authored provisions in the Affordable Care Act to hold doctors accountable for delivering high-value care and help people receive care at home rather than in nursing homes.  In 2015 she introduced legislation with Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and John Thune (R-SD) to encourage access to interconnected, patient-centered health care in rural communities. In 2016, she helped ensure the passage of a provision in the 21st Century Cures Act that made it easier to set up Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in rural and underserved communities.

Cosponsors of the amendment include Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Angus King (I-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).