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AARP rips GOP's 'harmful' healthcare legislation

AARP rips GOP's 'harmful' healthcare legislation
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AARP is going on the warpath against the Republican proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The lobbying group for seniors accused House Republican leaders of crafting legislation that increases insurance premiums for consumers, while giving a “sweetheart deal” to “big drug companies and special interests.” 

“Although no one believes the current health care system is perfect, this harmful legislation would make health care less secure and less affordable,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president, said in a statement.

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Republicans unveiled their long-awaited healthcare reform proposal, called the American Health Care Act, on Monday. 

AARP blasted several aspects of the legislation, including provisions that would scale back the Medicaid expansion and cut back the amount of federal funding per enrollee.

The advocacy group for seniors also slammed the Republican push to eliminate the ObamaCare taxes that have helped fund an expansion of insurance coverage. LeaMond said the bill "would weaken Medicare."

AARP also highlights a provision in the American Health Care Act allowing insurance companies to charge patients in their 50s and early 60s up to five times more than younger policy holders. Under current rules put in place by ObamaCare, those fees are capped at a three-to-one ratio.

“Before people even reach retirement age, big insurance companies could be allowed to charge them an age tax that adds up to thousands of dollars more per year,” LeaMond said. 

“Older Americans need affordable health care services and prescriptions. This plan goes in the opposite direction, increasing insurance premiums for older Americans and not doing anything to lower drug costs,” she continued.

AARP has been a powerful force in past fights over healthcare, scoring big wins in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, and in the creation of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit program.

Republicans need to avoid major fights with outside groups as they push to get the legislation to President Trump's desk.

The GOP is already facing internal dissension over the bill, with conservatives blasting it as a new entitlement that does not go far enough in scaling back Medicaid.

Yet the Medicaid provision already in the bill could prove difficult to pass through the Senate, with four Republican senators writing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) in opposition to the idea: Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (Ohio), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe siren of Baton Rouge Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (Alaska), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe siren of Baton Rouge Senate confirms John Demers to head DOJ national security division Senate rejects bipartisan measure as immigration votes begin MORE (Colo.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAt least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together Overnight Tech: Intel chief says 'no doubt' Russia will meddle in midterms | Dems press FCC over net neutrality comments | Bill aims to bridge rural-urban digital divide | FCC to review rules on children's TV Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide MORE (W.Va.).

“We are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services,” they wrote, in response to draft proposals from House Republicans. “We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states.”

AARP offered to work with Republicans on changes to the measure.

“AARP stands ready to work with both parties on legislation that puts Americans first, not the special interests,” the group said.