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CAMC CEO criticizes Republican health care plan

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Charleston Area Medical Center CEO Dave Ramsey

The CEO of Charleston Area Medical Center sent an email to hospital employees criticizing Republicans’ plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and asking them to urge U.S. senators to “reset the discussion” around health care reform.

In an email sent shortly before 10 a.m. Thursday, Dave Ramsey noted that the U.S. House of Representatives had passed its American Health Care Act in May, and that the U.S. Senate is currently considering changes.

“According to estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill would leave 124,000 West Virginians without vital health care coverage in 10 years,” Ramsey wrote. “It also would cut billions from the already underfunded Medicaid program, which offers a critical lifeline to our most vulnerable citizens — children, the disabled, the poor and the elderly. West Virginia has benefited greatly from the Medicaid Expansion with over 170,000 persons covered at any one time. In addition, the bill would eliminate essential protections for older and sicker patients, including those with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer patients and the chronically ill.”

“I’m writing today to ask you to join me in urging the Senate to reset the discussion to protect health coverage for as many Americans as possible,” he added. “Serving on the front lines of health care we understand the importance of this health care debate and the impact that health coverage can have for patients.

“Yes, our health system is in need of reform. But any reforms must be guided by ensuring that millions of people across the country don’t lose their health care coverage.”

All three representatives of West Virginia in the U.S. House voted for the American Health Care Act. It passed by four votes. As passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the bill would eliminate the individual mandate, cut billions from Medicaid, end Medicaid expansion in West Virginia, and allow states to opt out of requiring companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

About three weeks after the bill passed the House, the Congressional Budget Office estimate the bill would increase the number of uninsured people by 23 million nationwide by 2026 and save the federal government about $119 billion over the same period.

Ramsey also links to the website of the American Hospital Association, where employees can send a form letter to senators or rewrite the letter to describe their own concerns with the bill.

“Please ... send a message to your senators urging them to protect coverage for those who need it and ensure that the most vulnerable are not left behind,” he wrote. “I hope you will consider speaking out in support of our patients and our hospital.”

Earlier this week, the American Hospital Association and seven other national groups announced they would hold a series of events in opposition to the American Health Care Act. The groups plan to host events in Colorado, Ohio, Nevada and West Virginia in coming weeks.

The other groups include the AARP, the American Cancer Society Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, the Federation of American Hospitals and the March of Dimes.

Dale Witte, spokesman for CAMC, said late Thursday afternoon that he had been out of town and wasn’t present for any internal conversations that preceded the letter. Ramsey had not returned a call for comment as of press time Thursday.

Reach Erin Beck at erin.beck@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5163, Facebook.com/erinbeckwv or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

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