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American Medical Association opposes GOP health care bill

By Eli Watkins CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The American Medical Association announced Wednesday it opposes the health care proposal backed by Republican leadership, including President Donald Trump.

In addition to its public rebuke of the American Health Care Act, the AMA sent a letter to two House committees outlining its issues with the bill.

"While we agree that there are problems with the ACA that must be addressed, we cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations," said the letter signed by James L. Madara, the CEO and executive vice president of the interest group.

The AMA describes itself as the largest organization of doctors in the country, and has been a prolific donor to both political parties over the years. The AMA's letter places it in the same camp as several other key groups opposing the bill, including the AARP and the American Hospital Association.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Wednesday that under the GOP bill, interest groups aren't getting "paid off" the same way they did under Obamacare, leading to lower levels of support. Still, Spicer said Trump and other GOP leaders would prefer to have the groups on their side.

"We would love to have every group on board," Spicer said at his Wednesday press briefing when asked about opposition from groups like AARP and the AMA. "This isn't about trying to figure out how many special interests in Washington we can get paid off. It's about making sure that patients get the best deal."

As for AMA specifically, Spicer cited the fact that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is himself a trained physician and said the bill was responsive to input from "doctors on the front lines."

Madara's letter defended Obamacare and said that the Republican plan would cause many to lose their health insurance. It also expressed concern with how the bill approaches Medicaid expansion, a program aimed at helping the nation's poor and disabled people gain access to care. Due to litigation following the passage of Obamacare, states have been given the option to expand Medicaid, and the Republican bill would roll back expansion starting in 2020.

The AMA letter also took issue with a proposed cut to the CDC's Public Health and Prevention Fund, an Obamacare-established fund meant to invest in public health programs.

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