The National Committee strongly condemns the American Health Care Act (AHCA) just passed by the House, which needlessly puts the healthcare of millions of older Americans in jeopardy. “Despite the bill’s name, risking the health of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens to give the wealthy an $880 billion tax cut is tremendously uncaring — and does not reflect real American values,” says Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “In modifying the original AHCA bill to give reluctant Republicans political cover, the House leadership made a bad piece of legislation even worse.”
“Recent amendments to this cruel, ill-advised bill could put coverage for older Americans with pre-existing conditions like cancer and diabetes out of reach. The $8 billion (over 5 years) added to the legislation at the last minute to defray the cost of higher premiums is woefully inadequate. It’s a thin veil that covers a head of snakes.”
Equally inadequate are the meager tax credits that the GOP bill offers older Americans to buy insurance. A $4,000 annual tax credit doesn’t come to close to covering premiums for seniors ages 60-64, meaning millions of older Americans will lose coverage altogether.
The bill cuts nearly $1 trillion from Medicaid by converting it into a block grant program or imposing per capita caps, which will make it harder for impoverished seniors to access long term skilled nursing care and community or home care. Overall, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 14 million people will be kicked off the Medicaid rolls in the next 10 years if this bill becomes law.
The AHCA reduces Medicare’s solvency by repealing Obamacare’s 0.9% payroll tax on wages above $200,000. This could lead to cuts in Medicare, including privatizing the program — harming current and future beneficiaries.
Under the GOP bill, insurers can charge older enrollees five times more than younger ones. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that by 2026 this provision will substantially raise premiums for older people by as much as 25%.
“We can only hope that the Senate majority will kill this reckless legislation before it punishes seniors – and millions of other Americans – for the crime of needing and wanting affordable health care,” Richtman says.