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 McConnellThe Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion Conservatives could force shutdown over Biden vaccine mandate Freedom Caucus urges McConnell to block government funding over vaccine mandates MORE (R-Ky.) in opposition to the idea: Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOhio Senate candidate unveils ad comparing Biden to Carter Advocates urge Senate to vote on nominees for board reviewing whistleblower claims Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise MORE (Ohio), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCongress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks MORE (Alaska), Cory GardnerCory GardnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Gun control group alleges campaign finance violations in lawsuit against NRA Colorado Supreme Court signs off on new congressional map MORE (Colo.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoRepublicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise 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.