Durbin: GOP Health Care Repeal Bill Hurts Older Illinoisans
CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today discussed the impact of Congressional Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it would particularly hurt those nearing retirement age, as well as seniors. Last week, GOP leaders unveiled their ACA repeal bill and three House Committees have approved the bill along party line votes. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the GOP bill would result in 14 million people losing their health plans next year, and 24 million people becoming uninsured by 2026. The bill would allow insurers to charge older people five times as much as younger enrollees, reduce tax credits for people age 50 to 64, dismantle the Medicaid program, and weaken Medicare.
“The Republican repeal bill would cause 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance over the next decade, and benefit few people other than the healthy and wealthy. It would be particularly bad for seniors and Illinoisans nearing retirement by allowing insurers to charge older Americans significantly higher premiums, cutting tax credits to help them afford health plans, jeopardizing Medicare’s financial viability, and ending Medicaid as we know it. In Illinois and nationwide, this strategy threatens to disrupt our entire healthcare system – subjecting patients, providers, hospitals, and insurers to chaos,” Durbin said. “As if that weren’t bad enough, the Republican repeal bill provides hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations. I will fight to protect the gains we have made under the ACA and continue to support patients in need.”
The Republican repeal bill would allow insurance companies tocharge older Americans five times more than younger adults for individual market coverage. This “age tax” by itself would raise premiums in Illinois by $2,121 annually for a 60-year old. On top of that, the bill slashes the financial assistance, or tax credits, available to older Americans to help with the purchase of insurance coverage. Approximately 94,000 individuals between age of 50 and 64 living in Illinois currently receive tax credits to help with the purchase of insurance. This is 39 percent of all individuals age 50 to 64 who purchased coverage in the Marketplace in Illinois. Under the Republican repeal bill, a 60-year-old earning $40,000 annually will receive a tax credit of no more than $4,000 to purchase private health insurance. Based on the average premium in Illinois, that is $2,944 less in tax credits than they would receive currently to help with the cost of coverage. Older Americans get hit twice: higher premiums and less help paying them. By 2026, the average premium in the individual market for someone age 64 will be 20 to 25 percent higher than it would be under current law.
In addition, more than two million Illinoisans currently receive health coverage through Medicare. The Republican bill cuts over $100 billion in funding for Medicare—in order to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to big business and the wealthiest Americans—which will make Medicare insolvent up to three years sooner than expected.
Finally, the Republican repeal bill would decrease federal Medicaid spending by $880 billion. By 2026, Medicaid spending would be about 25 percent less than what is currently projected. Approximately 273,000 Illinoisans age 50 to 64—and 245,000 seniors in Illinois—benefit from Medicaid. It provides basic health coverage and enables individuals to get the care they need to live at home, including help with activities of daily living, like getting dressed and bathing. It also provides nursing home care for those who need it and helps many seniors over age 65 cover the cost of Medicare premiums.
The AARP, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association, and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association have all already opposed or raised serious concerns with the Republican repeal bill.
More than one million people in Illinois have gained coverage under the ACA, and all health plans now have important consumer protections (no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, no annual/lifetime caps on benefits, as well as required coverage of maternity care, substance abuse, and mental health services). Nationally, more than 20 million people have gained health insurance because of the ACA. Thanks to the ACA, the uninsured rate in 2015 fell below 10 percent for the first time in our nation’s history.
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