The House bill, the American Health Care Act, has come under fire for seeking to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a tax credit scheme that will significantly shortchange older health insurance consumers, when compared to Obamacare's current premium subsidies. It also relaxes the limit on insurers from charging older consumers more than younger consumers. Under the GOP plan, the oldest consumers can be charged five times as much as the youngest, compared to three times as much under the ACA.
Altogether, the legislation would reduce insurance coverage of older consumers and raise their premiums by 20 to 25 compared to current law by 2026, the Congressional Budget Office said this week. The overall slowdown in premium growth the CBO said the legislation would eventually bring would come at the cost of older people dropping insurance, allowing insurers to lower premiums for younger people, who are cheaper to cover.
Its in press release, the AARP also pointed to how the bill would weaken the Medicare trust fund and the tax breaks it offers insurance and drugs companies as other areas of concern.
Some Republicans, particularly those representing older communities, have pointed to the effect the bill has on older consumers as a reason they are balking at the legislation. GOP senators are working on an amendment to make the tax credit scheme less burdensome for older consumers.
Read LeaMond's full statement below:
"AARP recognizes the magnitude of the upcoming vote on this harmful legislation that creates an Age Tax, cuts the life of Medicare, and gives sweetheart deals to big drug and insurance companies while doing nothing to lower the cost of health care or prescriptions. We intend on letting all 38 million of our members know exactly how their Representative voted. Our members care deeply about their health care and have told us repeatedly that they want to know where their elected officials stand. We will communicate the results of the House vote to our members and the public through The Bulletin, a print publication that goes to all of our members, as well as through emails, social media, and other communications channels.
"This bill, if passed in its current form, will disproportionately hurt older adults between the ages of 50 and 64 by dramatically increasing insurance premiums to unaffordable rates. Allowing insurance companies to charge older adults an Age Tax 5 times or more than others for health insurance, and reducing tax credits to help pay for it, is quite simply unfair.
"AARP is also concerned that this bill weakens the fiscal sustainability of Medicare, reduces cost-sharing help for out-of-pocket costs for 50- to 64-year-olds purchasing coverage on the individual insurance market, increases the number of uninsured Americans, and puts at risk the health and well-being of millions of poor seniors and disabled adults and children by capping funding for much needed services that allow individuals to live independently in their homes and communities.
"We are also profoundly disappointed that the big drug and insurance companies were given sweetheart deals while nothing was done to lower the cost of health care or prescriptions. Congress must do more to bring down the unsustainably high health care and prescription drug costs for consumers and taxpayers."