A Senate Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act aims to reduce funding for Medicaid, the single largest source of health care coverage in the United States.
Organizations like AARP are concerned that the cuts unfairly target senior citizens.
AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in a statement that the Senate bill imposes an “age tax” on older adults.
“AARP is adamantly opposed to the Age Tax, which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else while reducing tax credits that help make insurance more affordable,” LeaMond noted.
The advocacy organization notes on its website that the current law keeps insurers from charging older adults more than three times as much for premiums as they charge those who are younger for the same coverage. Both the Republican House and Senate legislation would "allow insurers to charge older adults five times as much, and states could receive waivers to remove even that limit."
Jerome Mosman agrees with the “age tax” characterization.
Mosman is the CEO of Sixty & Better, a nonprofit that provides nutrition and socialization services to senior citizens at 25 activity centers across Tarrant County in Texas.
“I think it is an Age Tax because there is a presumption that all older people are sicker, and this is not true,” Mosman said.
“To lose that [Medicaid] safety net is frightening. States are ultimately going to have to ration [their allotment] and say, ‘Well, we only get so much from Medicaid, therefore we cannot insure more disabled people, more elderly people.’ It is frightening for those on low income,” Mosman said.
At the age of 71, Anita Strange — a retired school teacher and lifelong Fort Worth resident — was dropped by her health insurance company, Aetna, which Strange believes was a direct result of her age.
Since then, Strange, now 74, has been enrolled in Medicare.
“I’m watching [the developments] but I’m just going to wait and see [before I pass judgment],” Strange said. “There’s got to be a better plan out there for us because we have to have insurance.”
Republicans have been said to be considering a vote this week, though the bill has a narrow path to victory with Democrats united against it and some moderates and conservatives calling for changes.
A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the number of people likely to keep coverage under the bill is due out this week. Twenty-three million people would lose insurance under the House version of the legislation, the CBO said last month.
"Republican Senators are working very hard to get there, with no help from the Democrats," Trump tweeted on Monday. "Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash & burn!"