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 McConnellRand's reversal advances Pompeo After Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators eye path forward on election security bill | Facebook isn't winning over privacy advocates | New hacks target health care MORE (R-Ky.) in opposition to the idea: Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTax rules will be subject to more OMB review under new memo Ending sex trafficking tomorrow requires preventing child abuse today Doctors bristle at push for opioid prescription limits MORE (Ohio), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (Alaska), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerPoll: Almost two-thirds of Texas voters support legal recreational marijuana House, Senate GOP compete for cash Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill MORE (Colo.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoFamily, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush Lawmakers propose boosting park funding with oil money Lawmakers trade barbs, torch Trump at DC soiree 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.