The much-anticipated vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — touted as a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare — was postponed indefinitely Friday after leaders of the House of Representatives determined they did not have the votes to pass it.
AARP, which opposed the bill and decried it as an “age tax” on older Americans, applauded the decision to pull the bill.
“The leadership’s decision to withdraw the bill from consideration proves that the voices of Americans are very powerful. This harmful legislation would have added an age tax on older Americans and put vulnerable populations at risk,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.
Since debate on the AHCA began, AARP had been urging all House members to vote against the legislation because it would have raised insurance costs on older Americans. AARP also said the AHCA would have done nothing to lower prescription drug prices and instead would have given tax breaks to pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that under the AHCA, 14 million Americans would have lost health coverage next year, and a total of 24 million would have lost coverage over the next decade.
For older Americans in particular, this legislation would have dealt a serious financial blow. AARP’s Public Policy Institute found that the AHCA could have raised premiums on Americans between 50 and 64 years old by as much as $8,400 a year. The CBO found that for a 64-year-old earning $26,500 a year, health care premiums would have risen by almost $13,000 a year.
The AHCA would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times the amount they would charge others for the same coverage. At the same time, the bill would replace current insurance subsidies, which are based on income and premium levels, with a less-generous tax credit. Together, those provisions would amount to an unfair “age tax” on older Americans, according to AARP.
While the bill would have harmed older Americans, it would have provided generous benefits to special interests. The bill included tax breaks worth $200 billion for insurance companies, drugmakers and other industries.
“AARP will continue to oppose legislation that would impose an age tax on older Americans, weaken Medicare, erode seniors’ ability to live independently because of billions of dollars in Medicaid cuts, and give sweetheart deals to drug and insurance companies while doing nothing to lower the cost of health care or prescription drugs,” LeaMond said.