Opposition Mounting to GOP's Health-Care Plan
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Republican Party's health care bill is moving through Congress, but opposition from organizations and even from inside the party itself is growing.
AARP has come out against the American Health Care Act as well, saying it will hurt many Americans in a variety of ways. Jerry Cohen, state director of AARP in Oregon, said under the proposed legislation, there would be an "age tax," allowing insurers to charge older Americans five times what they charge younger Americans. Currently they are limited to charging rates three times higher.
Cohen said that's going to mean a big hike in premiums.
"It's a fatally flawed formula for the health care of older Americans, their families and communities,” Cohen said.
Republican supporters have said the bill will lower the federal deficit and increase health care choices for Americans.
Analysis from the Congressional Budget Office released this week found the bill would save the federal government $330 billion over the next decade. However, it also found that 24 million people would lose their health coverage over that period, and that insurance premiums would increase 20 to 25 percent for people at retirement age.
Cohen said he’s concerned the bill will weaken Medicare, drying up funds earlier than expected, which will shift costs to states and potentially open the program up to becoming a voucher system. And he said Medicaid would not be spared either.
"It harms our long-term care system because of the projected $800 billion-plus in cuts to Medicaid. And Oregon has been very good at being able to keep seniors and adults with disabilities living at home,” he said. "It's been a great program and it would be at great risk if this were enacted."
Prescription drug prices could rise under the bill as well, Cohen said. And the bill includes a $200 billion tax break to drug and insurance companies. What’s more, he said, the bill does not help with the escalating cost of health care.
"This particular piece of legislation - that we consider a special-interest bill, not an American health care act - is certainly one that fails to address those fundamental questions and concerns that have been raised by all Americans,” Cohen said.
He said Oregonians should speak to their representatives in Congress about their concerns with the bill.