Advocates for older Americans are criticizing a bill in the House of Representatives that would raise the amount insurance companies can charge seniors.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies only could charge seniors three times what younger adults pay.
But the new bill raises that to five times – meaning premiums for the average senior could go up as much as $3,000 a year.
Amber Christ, a senior staff attorney with advocacy group Justice in Aging says this bill amounts to an “age tax,” and notes the same idea is part of the larger Republican proposal to repeal Obamacare.
“It’s particularly problematic because it’s increasing the amount of premiums older adults will be subject to while also decreasing the amount in tax premium credits that older adults will receive,” she points out.
The AARP also opposes H.R. 708 and the American Health Care Act, which some call Trumpcare in part because it bases the amount of the subsidies on age alone, and would no longer take into account ability to pay or the cost of insurance in a given state.
House Speaker Paul Ryan defends the overhaul, saying it will give people a choice on whether to buy coverage and will increase competition in the marketplace.
Christ says the new proposal eliminates the taxes that paid for Obamacare, giving a huge break to insurance companies, drug makers, medical device companies and the wealthy, while slashing extra help for lower-income patients.
“The Republican proposal also eliminates the cost-sharing assistance that reduces deductibles, copays and co-insurance,” she points out. “So that means that out-of-the-pocket expenses are going to go up in addition to the premiums.”
The Republican proposal also saves billions by capping the Medicaid expansion and imposing a 30 percent surcharge on people who lose coverage and can’t afford to buy a new plan right away.
Ryan says he hopes to pass the GOP plan in the next two weeks.
By Suzanne Potter
Public News Service