WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said a report done by AARP that claims “TrumpCare” will make cuts to tax credits and age-rating changes could increase premiums for 64-year-olds earning $45,000 by as much as $4,300 each year.
According to information provided by Casey’s office, some 3.2 million older Americans rely on Affordable Care Act for coverage.
Casey, D-Scranton, and ranking member on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, hosted a conference call Wednesday to highlight the potential negative effects that The American Health Care Act will have on older Americans.
Casey was joined on the call by a Pennsylvania senior citizen and Howard Bedlin, vice president for Public Policy and Advocacy at the National Council on Aging, to highlight county by county data on the adverse impacts that TrumpCare will have on seniors.
More than 3.2 million older Americans ages 50-64 rely on the Affordable Care Act for health insurance coverage, Casey said.
“TrumpCare allows insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more than younger adults and cuts the amount of tax credits available to help with the purchase of coverage, threatening the financial security of many lower- and moderate-income older adults,” Casey said.
Casey talked about what he sees as the impact of the legislation. However, he said the the most important point to make is that Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress “are breaking promises to both older Pennsylvanians and others who need the benefit of health care.”
Casey reiterated his earlier comments that during the presidential campaign, Trump said he would not touch Medicaid or Medicare.
“And yet his scheme decimates Medicaid and undermines Medicare’s finances,” Casey said. “This opens the door for extreme Republicans to do what they wanted to do for a long time: to cut the Medicare benefit in the future.”
Casey said he thinks Trump and the GOP Congress are saying they want to have a healthcare bill “allegedly”to make healthcare better for people, but he said “it’s really a scheme” to take healthcare away from people and to give very rich people huge tax cuts.
“So the scheme allows insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more than younger adults for coverage, while cutting the resources available to purchase health insurance,” Casey said. “So older Americans get robbed, while insurance companies get rich and, of course, very wealthy people get even richer than they are right now.”
Casey defined the “giveaways” as an estimated $600 billions that would be given to special interests, like insurance companies and drug companies and wealthy people,.
“That’s what we’re talking about here,” Casey said.
Turning to his home state of Pennsylvania, Casey said a 60-year-old would pay over $2,300 dollars more for coverage because of the “Age Tax,” which he said is readily apparent from what people who know the issue well have told him.
“That’s what I referred to earlier, the five times more,” Casey said. “This Republican scheme reduces the financial assistance available to older citizens to help make their healthcare coverage affordable.”
Casey also said Medicaid would be slashed by $880 billion over the next 10 years.
“So you can’t say that you’re a fighter for older Pennsylvanians, individuals with disabilities, children and workers if you’re willing to support this radical, extreme and destructive piece of legislation,” Casey said.
Casey talks to Nanticoke woman
Charlotte Kitler, from Nanticoke, provided remarks on the call. Kitler is a senior on Medicare who volunteers to talk with her peers about their healthcare.
Kitler speaks to other seniors about Medicare fraud and how much money fraud takes away from the Medicare system.
“Seniors are concerned about cuts in services, increases in premiums, and I’m afraid, unfortunately, that those concerns can only increase with this proposed legislation — the American Health Care Act — because it is going to hit seniors very hard,” Kitler said.
Kitler said Medicare is running out of money, and it is currently projected to become insolvent in 2028. She said the American Health Care Act would make Medicare run out of money even sooner — four years sooner, according to the Congressional Budget Office report. That would make Medicare insolvent in 2024, which is seven years from now.
“We have heard that this act is only the first of a larger plan, that there are other steps that have yet to be taken, and among those steps, we’ve heard talk of changing the structure of Medicare, issuing vouchers, tying Medicare to the stock market with all the potential risks and losses that that entails,” Kitler said. “The American Health Care Act would put Medicare on very shaky ground.”
Bedlin said the bill would harm not only older Americans, but people with disabilities and children as well, some of our most vulnerable citizens.
“This bill would significantly increase premiums for older adults due to changes that would allow insurance companies to charge them five times, or actually even more than five times more than younger adults,” Bedlin said. “Capping the program would, for the very first time in history, end the guarantee that is currently in place that payments would keep pace with the actual cost of care.”
Barletta reviewing bill
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, recently issued a following statement regarding the introduction of the American Health Care Act:
“This is the first of a three step process in the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. The reality is that Obamacare is destroying our health care system by driving up costs and decreasing access to quality care. The average premium in Pennsylvania increased by 32 percent this year, and in some corners premiums rose as much as 53 percent. That level of cost increase is unsustainable.
“Repealing and replacing Obamacare will require a long, multi-step process. We need to be deliberate and aim for a system that increases consumer choice, drives down costs, and ensures that no one falls through the cracks.
“I was encouraged to see that the bill maintains that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage, and that adult children can stay on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26. The bill also fully repeals the job-killing medical device tax and makes significant strides in rolling back harmful government mandates.
“I am continuing to review the bill, keeping in mind the impact it will have on the people of Pennsylvania’s 11th District.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.