One of the nation’s largest medical lobbying groups has joined the opposition to the Senate health care bill, which will result in an estimated 22 million uninsured Americans, arguing it violates medical ethics.
On Monday, the American Medical Association (AMA), a nonprofit organization made up of doctors and medical students, released a letter to Congress detailing the organization’s concerns with the bill.
“Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm.’ The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels,” reads the letter in part.
The sentiment isn’t misplaced. A Center for American Progress estimate released earlier this month suggests that between 18,100 and 27,700 people will die in 2026 as a direct result of the legislation if it passes in its current form. (Disclosure: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent site housed at the Center for American Progress.)
The letter continues, “The AMA is particularly concerned with proposals to convert the Medicaid program into a system that limits the federal obligation to care for needy patients to a predetermined formula based on per-capita-caps.” The organization cites concerns that the legislation would not give states the resources they needed to give citizens access to new medical techniques, as well as rendering them unable to deal with public health crises like the ongoing opioid epidemic.
The AMA also condemned a section of the legislation that would prohibit recipients of Medicaid from using their coverage at Planned Parenthood, or any other organization that provides abortions, saying they “ violate longstanding AMA policy on patients’ freedom to choose their providers and physicians’ freedom to practice in the setting of their choice.” Planned Parenthood clinics offer a wide variety of services, many of which have nothing to do with abortion.
The AMA is now one of several major organizations to have issues with the bill. AARP released a statement last week saying it is “deeply concerned” about the bill’s cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and a spokesperson for American’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) failed to endorse the bill, worrying it wouldn’t “offer services [citizens] want at a price they can pay.” All three organizations also opposed the House’s version of the bill in March.
The assertion that the bill violates the “do no harm” principle contradicts Republican lawmakers’ attempts to downplay the harm it will cause.
Last week, for instance, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) claimed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was “accusing those [he disagrees] with of murder” for stating (correctly) that the bill would cost thousands of lives. On Monday, Kellyanne Conway brushed aside the bill’s deep cuts to Medicaid by claiming low-income people who need health care would be able to get it by getting jobs.
Annabel Thompson is an intern with ThinkProgress.
This piece has been updated to clarify that ThinkProgress is an editorially independent site housed at the Center for American Progress.