RECAP of the American Healthcare Act

Voices of Americans were heard when the Controversial bill was pulled.

by David Frank, Mary C. Hickey, AARP, March 24, 2017 with additional copy provided by AARP Maine

The much-anticipated vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — touted as a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare — was postponed indefinitely on Friday, March 24th, after leaders of the House of Representatives determined they did not have the votes to pass it.

AARP, which opposed the bill and decried it as an “age tax” on older Americans, applauded the decision to pull the bill.

“The leadership’s decision to withdraw the bill from consideration proves that the voices of Americans are very powerful. This harmful legislation would have added an age tax on older Americans and put vulnerable populations at risk,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.

Since debate on the AHCA began, AARP had been urging all House members to vote against the legislation because it would have raised insurance costs on older Americans. AARP also said the AHCA would have done nothing to lower prescription drug prices and instead would have given tax breaks to pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that under the AHCA, 14 million Americans would have lost health coverage next year, and a total of 24 million would have lost coverage over the next decade.

For older Americans in particular, this legislation would have dealt a serious financial blow. AARP’s Public Policy Institute found that the AHCA could have raised premiums on Americans between 50 and 64 years old by as much as $8,400 a year. The CBO found that for a 64-year-old earning $26,500 a year, health care premiums would have risen by almost $13,000 a year.

On March 19th, a front-page Portland Press Herald article by reporter Joe Lawlor, clearly described how many older Mainers would be negatively impacted by the bill.  AARP Maine State Director, Lori Parham, was interviewed and quoted in the article.

One of the issues of greatest concern to AARP was the fact that the AHCA would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times the amount they would charge others for the same coverage. At the same time, the bill would replace current insurance subsidies, which are based on income and premium levels, with a less-generous tax credit. Together, those provisions would amount to an unfair “age tax” on older Americans, according to AARP.

Many Mainers across the state spoke up about this unacceptable “age tax” through letters to the editor and a video that was featured on the AARP Maine Facebook page.  AARP Maine volunteers and staff also contacted Maine’s members of Congress in an effort to urge them to vote “no” on the bill if and when it came up for a vote.  Only Congressman Bruce Poliquin in the second Congressional district did not publicly oppose the bill.

While the bill would have harmed older Americans, it would have provided generous benefits to special interests. The bill included tax breaks worth $200 billion for insurance companies, drugmakers and other industries.

On behalf of our 230,000 members in Maine, we thank our volunteers and every Mainer who made their voices heard in opposition to this deeply flawed bill. As one of our members said, “this bill is not about health and it is not about care.”

Please know that AARP will continue to oppose any legislation that would impose an age tax on older Americans, weaken critical programs like Medicare and Social Security or undermine the ability of older adults to “age in place.”  You can count on AARP here in Maine and across the country to keep fighting for you and your family.

For more information about our work in Maine, please visit www.aarp.org/me, follow us on Facebook @aarpmaine, email us at me@aarp.org or call 1-866-554-5380.

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Image: Rudy Sulgan/Getty Images

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