People over 50 could see significant premium increases or benefit cuts in the latest version of the U.S. Senate’s plan to overhaul health insurance. (Hero/GettyImages)
AUSTIN – Advocates for Texas seniors warn that if the U.S. Senate passes the new health care plan revealed on Thursday, it could be both a financial and health disaster for older Texans.
AARP predicts the bill, which could be voted on as early as next week, would raise annual health premiums for 50 to 64-year-olds as much as $20,000, five times the regular rate.
It also cuts Medicaid, on which more than half of Texas nursing home residents depend.
AARP Texas State Director Bob Jackson says Senate Republicans are asking the wrong questions in their attempt to “fix health care.”
“The first thing you’ve got to do is get a strong sense of, ‘Did the current law cause those costs to go up or, frankly, did the cost of health care cause them to go up?’” he states. “Because there’s a big difference there. Did the law create the problem, or is the health care system just getting more and more expensive?”
Republican leaders updated the plan to address some senators’ concerns, but not all of them. The biggest change would allow insurers to sell so-called bare bones policies that don’t meet the basic coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
The Congressional Budget Office is set to release its report on the proposal on Monday.
Jackson says AARP and other groups are appealing directly to Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, urging him to make sure the health care plan helps Texans – or to vote “no” if it doesn’t.
“If you only make decisions around health care about how somebody’s going to make a profit, then you’ve already started in the wrong place,” Jackson stresses. “You need to start in the place that says, ‘How do we, the most efficiently, get the best care we can to everybody?'”
Jackson says other concerns about the health proposal include reviving the ban on covering pre-existing conditions, and a return to lifetime caps on insurance coverage.
GOP leaders need 50 votes to pass a plan, but as of Thursday, at least half-dozen senators still voiced objections to parts of it.
Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service (TX)