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AARP Mobilizes Against GOP Health Plan

AARP has joined a growing chorus of groups objecting to a new bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. (Ted Eytan/Wikimedia Commons)
AARP has joined a growing chorus of groups objecting to a new bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. (Ted Eytan/Wikimedia Commons)
March 17, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY - Opposition to the GOP's proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act is swelling, and the nation's largest advocacy group for people age 50 and older is stepping into the fray.

Laura Polacheck, communications director for AARP Utah, said the plan would shorten the life of Medicare, raise insurance costs for those who can least afford it and put seniors' ability to live independently at risk - all while giving tax breaks to drug and insurance companies.

"What the bill does is increase costs for older people quite significantly," she said. "Insurers can now charge five times as much as a younger person, instead of the current law, which says the ratio can be three to one."

President Trump and congressional leaders have said the American Health Care Act will lower health costs and cut the national deficit. Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office released this week found the bill would reduce the deficit by $33 billion. However, the same report said 24 million Americans would lose health insurance. The CBO also found that a senior with income of $26,000 a year would have to pay $14,000 for health coverage.

Although the current health-care system is far from perfect, Polacheck said, this plan - which could get a vote as early as next week - would make health care less secure and less affordable.

"We think what it does is give a lot of handouts to drug companies and insurance companies," she said. "I can tell you that is not what the American public wants. The American public wants access to affordable, quality care; they want to make sure the care is there when they need it."

In response to widespread criticism, the White House and House leaders have admitted changes to the bill are necessary to secure enough votes to pass it. Some Republicans, along with conservative groups such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation's lobbying arm, oppose the measure. The American Medical Association and American Hospital Association also oppose it.

The CBO report is online at cbo.gov and AARP's statement is at aarp.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - UT