Repeal of Health Law Faces a New Hurdle: Older Americans

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Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act have encountered a new obstacle: adamant opposition from many older Americans whose health insurance premiums would increase.

AARP and its allies are bombarding congressional offices with objections as two House committees plan to vote on the Republicans’ bill this week.

If the law is repealed, the groups say, people in their 50s and 60s could see premiums rise by $2,000 to $3,000 a year or more: increases of 20 percent to 25 percent or higher.

Under current rules, insurers cannot charge older adults more than three times what they charge young adults for the same coverage. House Republican leaders would allow a ratio of five to one — or more, if states choose.

Insurers support the change, saying it would help them attract larger numbers of young customers.

The current rating restrictions, they say, have increased premiums for young adults, discouraging them from enrolling.

But the Republican proposal would “increase the financial burden of older Americans, making coverage significantly less affordable,” says a letter to Congress from the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of nonprofit groups that represent the interests of older Americans.

The letter was addressed to Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon and the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, one of two House panels planning to vote this week on a bill that would roll back major provisions of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment.

David M. Certner, the legislative policy director of AARP, said the proposal would have “a severe impact on Americans age 50 to 64 who have not yet become eligible for Medicare.”

At the same time, Mr. Certner said, the Republican proposal could reduce the financial assistance available to help people pay insurance premiums.

Republicans say their proposal would reduce insurance prices by stimulating competition and by allowing insurers to sell a leaner, less expensive package of benefits.



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