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PNS Daily Newscast - July 28, 2017 


The stories on our rundown today: The stories on our rundown today: Senate efforts to reform health-care stand on the brink of collapse; the U.S. Justice Department says civil-rights law doesn’t protect gay and lesbian workers; and farms adapt to the high cost of doing business.

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Firm Opposition to GOP Healthcare Bill by Seniors, Providers

The healthcare bill passed in the U.S. House repeals protections for people with preexisting conditions, and rules against annual and lifetime coverage limits. (Pixabay)
The healthcare bill passed in the U.S. House repeals protections for people with preexisting conditions, and rules against annual and lifetime coverage limits. (Pixabay)
May 5, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. – The healthcare bill just passed by Republicans in the U.S. House is facing opposition from groups representing doctors, hospitals and seniors.

The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and AARP all are sharply criticizing the revised American Health Care Act.

David Certner is AARP's legislative counsel and policy director for government affairs.

"We believed we had a bad healthcare bill," he says. "Changes this week have only made that bill worse, putting at risk the insurance, and coverage and access to affordable care, for tens of millions of seniors."

This version of the bill has yet to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office, although it estimated the previous bill would have cut 24 million people off of the insurance rolls.

Supporters of the bill as amended say it can now do more to lower the cost of premiums, and it would create and fund high-risk insurance pools for people with preexisting conditions.

Since the bill ends the requirement to cover people with preexisting health conditions, the AMA argues it would make it impossible for most of them to get coverage.

Lina Walker, vice president for public policy at AARP, says her group estimates premiums in the high-risk pools could be nearly $26,000 a year per person.

The White House has disputed that figure given the complexity of the insurance market, but Walker says other groups' calculations are similar.

"We didn't pull a number out of a hat," she says. "This is based on real-world data, and it shows that premiums will be exceedingly high, unaffordable to the very people who need the coverage."

A separate estimate says funding in the legislation would cover just five percent of the 2.2 million people with preexisting conditions now in the individual marketplace.

The bill also repeals some of the Affordable Care Act's most popular protections against annual and lifetime caps on coverage.

Certner says AARP will continue to express its opposition.

"Town-hall meetings, visits back home, visits here in D.C., Grassroots mailings; we've been doing a great deal on social media," he adds. "Targeted ads in roughly 25 to 30 cities around the country."

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA