President Trump predicted Thursday that a GOP health care overhaul “will end in a beautiful picture,” but advocacy groups warned of ugly spikes in costs for millions of Floridians, from older consumers to working families with modest incomes.
“Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great,” Trump tweeted. “We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!”
The full effects are still being analyzed in a bill not yet scored by the Congressional Budget Office. It passed a second House committee Thursday on a party-line vote after 27 hours of debate.
The Affordable Care Act helps consumers with more than just tax credits to help make insurance premiums less costly, advocates said. For example, more than 1.1 million Floridians, or 73.5 percent of those in Affordable Care Act marketplace plans, receive cost-sharing assistance to help cover things like co-pays and deductibles, officials with the group Families USA said.
A family of three making $30,000 faces a $442 deductible under the current program, but if assistance goes away, the family’s out-of-pocket costs could skyrocket to $6,128, said Lydia Mitts, the group’s associate director of affordability.
The House GOP bill “could lead to people seeing a huge spike in their cost sharing,” Mitts said.
The proposed overhaul encourages health savings accounts, but that mostly helps higher-income earners and is not realistic for those on modest incomes or, say, people fighting cancer, advocates said.
“Health savings accounts are simply not a viable solution to meet the needs of cancer patients and survivors,” said Shelley Fuld Nasso, chief executive officer at the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. “You cannot plan ahead for a cancer diagnosis to put money in a savings account. If families don’t have extra income, then a health savings account is useless.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the House bill “a work in progress” but “it already is much better than Obamacare.”
But it isn’t better for seniors, particularly those 50 to 64, said AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond.
The House bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act, “would make health care less secure and less affordable for older Americans,” she said. It would dismantle “age rating” rules so insurers could charge older people more, she said.
The Palm Beach Post reported some older consumers on modest incomes would see certain benefits cut in half. A 60-year-old Palm Beach County resident making $20,000 a year could expect tax credits up to $7,990 to help pay for health coverage in 2020 under the Affordable Care Act, but that would be trimmed to $4,000 under the House rewrite. That potentially means a consumer of modest income now has to pay about $4,000 more out of on her own pocket each year.
The GOP plan potentially benefits taxpayers, people who don’t want the government to force them to buy insurance and some ACA marketplace consumers who get no financial assistance now because they make too much money. Some better-off older consumers could come out ahead: A 60-year-old making $100,000 in Palm Beach County who gets no help now could see a $1,500 tax credit, the Kaiser Family Foundation calculated.
On balance, the bill hurts seniors, LeaMond said.
“Although no one believes the American health care system is perfect, the American Health Care Act is not the answer,” she said.
An AARP web ad strikes out at the overhaul effort below: