Six major organizations representing physicians have written to Senate leaders asking them to step back and take a different tack on health reform.

Senators have been meeting behind closed doors to craft health reform legislation as an alternative to the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA). To date, no draft legislation has surfaced publicly and no hearings have been held to discuss health reform provisions under consideration.

“We urge the Senate to abandon this hidden, hurried effort and, instead, commit to a transparent, deliberative, and accountable process that provides sufficient time for our organizations (and other stakeholders) to provide direct input on the impact this legislation would have on patients and their physicians,” according to a joint letter sent June 15 to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “We believe that changes to current law of this magnitude necessitate public hearings before the legislation is considered by the committees of jurisdiction followed by committee mark-ups – and only then should a bill be advanced to a vote by the full Senate.”

The letter was signed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Psychiatric Association.

The groups raised their specific objections to two provisions of the AHCA that senators are said to be considering: caps on Medicaid funding and repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s essential benefits package.

Throughout the current health reform efforts “our organizations continually offered constructive ideas on achieving agreement on legislation consistent with our shared principles,” according to the letter. “Regrettably, both the House and Senate seem to be heading to a vote on legislation that would violate those principles by rolling back coverage and patient protections for tens of millions of patients.”

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