Analysis: ACA Replacement Puts Older Michiganders at Risk
LANSING, Mich. – Republicans in Congress are touting their replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act as a cost saving alternative, but those who work on behalf of older Americans are convinced it would weaken Medicare and put health insurance out of reach for millions.
The Republicans’ American Health Care Act would allow insurance companies to charge people in their 50s and early 60s five times as much as younger adults for premiums.
The current cap is only three times as much.
AARP is branding the difference an "age tax," and Lisa Dedden Cooper, manager of advocacy for AARP Michigan, says it would hit the most vulnerable populations the hardest.
"Say you're a 64-year-old, but you are lower income, you're making $15,000 a year,” she states. “With the changes under this legislation, your premiums would be expected to go up by $8,400 a year."
Republicans point out that the plan does include a tax credit that increases for older adults to help defray costs.
But the legislation would also eliminate some other tax credits that have helped expand insurance coverage under the ACA.
The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association are among the groups also opposing the bill.
The legislation would phase out the expanded Medicaid program, which has enrolled 650,000 low to moderate income Michigan residents since its launch in 2014.
Dedden Cooper says that includes 160,000 older adults, and warns everyone will pay if that population can't afford coverage.
"When that age group doesn't have the ability to manage their conditions, they don't have health care, their conditions will worsen,” she points out. “And both of those situations result in people not getting care that makes sense and then, costing the system more."
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer dismissed AARP's strong opposition to the plan, referring to the group, which represents 38 million older Americans, as a "special interest."