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AARP says GOP plan burdens older, lower-income Americans

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AARP is opposing the Republicans’ American Health Care Act bill, saying it could threaten the ability of 3.2 million older adults to pay for individual major medical coverage.

About 3.2 million adults ages 50 to 64 now use the Affordable Care Act premium tax credit subsidy program to buy health insurance.

The AHCA bill includes a proposal to increase the range between the premiums a health insurer can charge 64-year-olds and the premiums it can charge its youngest adult enrollees for the same coverage. The AHCA bill also includes a proposal to replace the current income-based premium tax credit with an age-based tax credit

Even though the AHCA tax credit would be adjusted by age, the proposal would raise significant concerns for older adults, says Susan Reinhard, a senior vice president at AARP.

“The tax credit proposal included in the American Health Care Act of 2017, as introduced on March 6, would provide substantially less assistance for lower- and moderate-income older adults, by as much as $5,900 for an individual,” Reinhard says.

Related: Ryan ready to twist arms to sell ACA plan to House GOP

“Older persons would face larger reductions in tax credits than younger persons and, as proposed, the value of the proposed tax credits would erode over time,” Reinhard says. “These changes would put health insurance coverage out of reach for many older adults.”

The American Medical Association is also objecting to the age-based tax credit proposal. The AMA “cannot support the AHCA as it is currently written,” the group said in a letter sent to Congress March 8.

The AMA has “long supported advanceable, refundable tax credits as a preferred method for assisting individuals in obtaining private health care coverage,” the group said. “It is important, however, that the amount of credits available to individuals be sufficient to enable one to afford quality coverage.”

Related: House panels approve ACA de-funder drafts

AARP concluded in a recent study that the ACA tax credits have contributed to a significant improvement in the uninsured rate for people ages 50 to 64. 

“Proposed replacement tax credits under H.R. 2300 and the AHCA would result in less financial security and premium assistance for lower- and moderate-income older adults over time,” AARP said. “The redistribution of funds from lower- to higher- income older adults could worsen disparities in access to health care.”


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