Our Statement on Senate Health Care Bill

Statement by Jesse Ellis O’Brien, U.S. PIRG Health Care Advocate, on public release of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act.” 

American consumers should be deeply concerned about the potential impact of this very dangerous legislation. The U.S. Senate leadership, working behind closed doors, has crafted a bill every bit as concerning as the American Health Care Act, which passed the House in May.

None of the superficial changes from the House bill—eliminating the continuous coverage requirement, changing the formula for (but still slashing) the subsidies that help people purchase insurance, delaying cuts to Medicaid (while making them even harsher)—are likely to change the basic facts. This bill threatens to spark chaos in health insurance markets, raise costs, degrade quality of care, weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and cause millions of Americans to lose health coverage.

Most importantly, this bill doesn’t even begin to address the real problems with the American health care system. Real reform would grapple with the fact that the health care status quo is failing to provide an acceptable value proposition for consumers.

Health care costs too much in this country not because too many people have access to it—we live in an affluent society that certainly can find a way to make sure that everyone has health insurance—but because the system is simply too expensive, and there’s not enough accountability for the industry to deliver better outcomes for consumers. This legislation does not even begin to address those problems.

We urge the Senate to go back to the drawing board and put together a real plan to make health care work better for American consumers.