AARP criticizes Medicare measures in CHIP bill

AARP criticizes Medicare measures in CHIP bill
© Greg Nash

The AARP is criticizing a provision of a bill to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program that would charge higher Medicare premiums to wealthy seniors.

“Not only is it wrong to continue to ask Medicare beneficiaries to shoulder the burden for non-Medicare expenditures, but it will make it harder to finance actual improvements and address long-term challenges in the Medicare program,” Joyce Rogers, the AARP senior vice president of government affairs, wrote in a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The powerful lobbying group for older Americans added it fully supports CHIP, writing it’s “essential because it provides affordable health coverage to working families.”

ADVERTISEMENT

But it wrote that the provision on Medicare was “troubling,” saying that higher-income Medicare beneficiaries already have higher premiums and an extra tax on Social Security because of the Medicare program. AARP also argued that throughout their working lives, wealthier beneficiaries have already paid more into Medicare.

AARP sent the letter ahead of the panel’s markup of the CHIP bill Wednesday afternoon. The legislation was released late Monday night and doesn’t have the support of Democrats.

"Ranking Member [Frank] Pallone continues to support a timely and robust reauthorization of CHIP, Community Health Centers and other important public health programs,” an Energy and Commerce Democratic spokesman wrote in a statement.

“While bipartisan negotiations have been ongoing, the legislation offered [Monday] night by Chairman [Greg] Walden is not a bipartisan agreement. Ranking Member Pallone hopes that his concerns can be addressed so that this can be a strong, bipartisan bill."

Separately, the Senate Finance Committee sent its bipartisan CHIP bill to the Senate floor Wednesday, which is different legislation than the House bill. The Senate has not released how it would pay for the program.