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House's health bill endangers older Americans, critics say

6-15-2017 - It has been obvious for a long time that America's health care system needs an overhaul. It's equally obvious that won't be easy.

In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act. Praised by all but the most conservative members of the GOP, as well as President Trump, the AHCA faces fierce resistance from advocates for seniors and the disabled. (In fact this month the president seemed to change his tune about the House bill, referring to it as "mean.") 

A May 5, 2017 article in Forbes warns that if passed, "Insurers could charge older adults five times what younger consumers pay for health insurance - up from three times what younger people pay, under the current law. At the same time, the bill would reduce tax credits that help older adults afford their coverage. The age tax could increase annual premiums by $13,000, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Making matters worse, states could receive a federal waiver that would allow insurers to charge even more than five times what younger people pay."

The AARP has criticized the AHCA on several additional fronts. First, its proposed $880 billion reduction in Medicaid funding over the next decade would make long-term care unaffordable for many disabled and older adults.  Second, those with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, heart conditions or diabetes - about 25 million people in the 50 to 64 age bracket - could be charged higher insurance premiums. The AARP also notes that by siphoning money away from Medicare, the AHCA would speed the financial insolvency of that program by four years.

Currently, the Senate is working on its own version of a health care reform bill. We'll see if they can do better.

To see how your U.S.representative voted on the House bill, click here.



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