There’s a great piece in the current Money magazine by Elizabeth O’Brien about the impact of ACA repeal on seniors. The title alone makes it worth the read: “Think Changes to Obamacare Won’t Affect You? Think Again.” In this article, O’Brien lays bare the consequences of ACA repeal to seniors, who, as the title implies, may not be aware of the repercussions for Medicare.
“The Affordable Care Act contains about 165 provisions affecting Medicare, according to Medicare’s trustees. These range from improving benefits for the 57 million current beneficiaries to shoring up the program’s long-term finances for future ones.”
These provisions include free wellness visits and preventative screenings for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a host of other medical conditions – with no out of pocket costs – all of which could disappear if the ACA is repealed. Likewise with the prescription drug “donut hole,” which the ACA was closing, saving the average beneficiary $1,000 a year. As O’Brien notes, before Obamacare came along:
“More than three million beneficiaries hit the donut hole before the law took effect, and some [seniors] were forced to skip doses, split pills, or not fill their prescriptions at all due to high costs.”
Who wants to go back to seniors splitting pills or going without their medicines?
O’Brien also points out that because of the savings the ACA provided to Medicare, repealing the healthcare law will cost Medicare $802 billion between now and 2025. There’s also a strong refutation of the argument by House Speaker Paul Ryan and HHS Nominee Tom Price that Medicare is “going broke,” which they will use as a canard to cut benefits.
Most tellingly, the Republicans are gunning for tax provisions that help pay for the ACA which mainly affect the upper middle class and the wealthy. O’Brien quotes Matthew Yglesias of Vox:
“Republicans’ desire to eliminate these taxes is a big driver of their push to repeal Obamacare. Subsidizing the health care costs of working-class people is expensive, and while Democrats want rich people to pay the freight for doing it, Republicans do not.”
The bottom line: seniors and millions of newly insured Americans will pay more for healthcare – or go without it entirely – so that high earners can get a tax break.