When people say that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) doesn’t affect older adults or touch Medicare: don’t believe it.
As the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed again last week, if this bill were enacted, 23 million people would lose their insurance coverage, disproportionately among older people with low-income, between age 50 and 64.
One of the most damaging aspects of AHCA is its devastating $834 billion cut and restructuring of Medicaid. These Medicaid changes will significantly affect the Medicare program, Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers.
Among other things, one in five Medicare beneficiaries relies on Medicaid to cover their Medicare premiums. This means that 11 million of the country’s most vulnerable older and disabled citizens will be directly harmed by AHCA’s Medicaid cuts.
Millions more Americans aged 50 – 64 will lose their insurance under the AHCA. This means that once they become eligible for Medicare, many of these individuals will need more – and more expensive – health services. This will drive up costs for all Medicare beneficiaries, the Medicare program, and the overall health care system.
Further, the AHCA repeals a tax on pharmaceutical manufacturers, which would increase Part B premiums for Medicare beneficiaries.
The Affordable Care Act, on the other hand, helped strengthen Medicare – increasing the Trust Fund’s lifespan by over a decade. This was accomplished, in part, through a minimal payroll tax increase for high income earners. The AHCA repeals this tax, weakening Medicare’s solvency and stability.
Last week more than 75 national organizations – including my own, the Center for Medicare Advocacy – sent a letter to Senate leaders, urging them to reject the AHCA. The letter voices opposition to AHCA, its effort to undermine Medicare financing and to diminish access to essential care. We expressed alarm that Congress would knowingly vote to undercut the Medicare Trust Fund. Read the full letter here.
Simply put, the AHCA is not a healthcare bill. A health care bill would strengthen coverage and delivery programs. The AHCA gratuitously weakens Medicare, decimates Medicaid, and guts insurance for 23 million people. We urge the Senate to reject this charade and develop a real healthcare bill that improves coverage and enhances Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
Judith Stein founded the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. in 1986, where she is the Executive Director. From 1977 until 1986, Ms. Stein was the Co-Director of Legal Assistance to Medicare Patients (LAMP), where she managed the first Medicare advocacy program in the country. She has extensive experience in developing and administering Medicare advocacy projects and representing Medicare beneficiaries.
The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.
The American Health Care Act undermines Medicare