Se­niors For­got­ten Un­der Gra­ham-Cas­sidy

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - MOON­LIGHT­ING Jade Moon

Ihope by the time you read this the U.S. Se­nate will have scrapped its ill-con­ceived bill to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act.

I do not use the phrase “ill-con­ceived” lightly. As writ­ten, the Gra­ham-Cas­sidy bill — drafted by U.S. Sens. Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina and Bill Cas­sidy of Louisiana — would gut the Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion, the in­di­vid­ual and em­ployer man­dates, and the sub­si­dies to help peo­ple af­ford in­sur­ance. It would take money away from those pro­grams and give some of it back to the states in the form of block grants. In time, stag­nant and/or di­min­ish­ing funds, and higher med­i­cal ex­penses would fac­tor in and shift costs to states, Med­i­caid en­rollees and their fam­i­lies.

De­spite what its spon­sors tell you, Gra­ham-Cas­sidy of­fers no guar­an­tee of cover­age for peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. Ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts, in­clud­ing re­searchers in the AARP Pub­lic Pol­icy In­sti­tute, Gra­ham-Cas­sidy would al­low the states re­ceiv­ing block grants to waive es­sen­tial for peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

Peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and their fam­i­lies would be at great risk, as the govern­ment would set a per-capita cap on Med­i­caid dol­lars. If you spend up to your cap be­fore the al­lot­ted time runs out, you’re on your own.

The elderly would take it on the chin. Ac­cord­ing to AARP, “The bill elim­i­nates - tance — pre­mium tax cred­its and cost-shar­ing re­duc­tions — crit­i­cal to en­sur­ing that low- to mod­er­ate-in­come older adults are able to af­ford the cover­age they need.

“The bill may also al­low states to charge older adults … than un­der cur­rent law on the ba­sis of their age, by waiv­ing fed­eral pro­tec­tions that limit the prac­tice known as age rat­ing.”

Take a look at the chart above to see how se­niors in Hawai‘i might fare, ac­cord­ing to AARP. Un­der cur­rent law, a 60-year-old mak­ing $25,000 a year would pay an av­er­age of $1,608 in 2020. Un­der Gra­ham-Cas­sidy, Hawai‘i se­niors could see their pre­mi­ums in­crease a whop­ping $10,410 by 2020.

Both Hawai‘i Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz are against Gra­ham-Cas­sidy.

Just how bad is this bill? As of this writ­ing, Med­i­caid di­rec­tors of all 50 states have is­sued a warn­ing about Gra­ham-Cas­sidy, say­ing it would place an enor­mous bur­den on the states.

And look at the or­ga­ni­za­tions op­posed to it. The med­i­cal and in­sur­ance heavy­weights are united in say­ing the bill will hurt mil­lions of peo­ple. The list in­cludes AARP, Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety, Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion, Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion, Amer­i­can Lung As­so­ci­a­tion, Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, Cys­tic Fi­bro­sis Foun­da­tion and March of Dimes.

In­sur­ance gi­ant Blue Cross Blue Shield As­so­ci­a­tion, which in­cludes un­der its um­brella lo - en­tial in­sur­ance lobby Amer­ica’s Health In­sur­ance Plans.

As I write this, 11 gov­er­nors - one in­de­pen­dent.

I sin­cerely hope Sen. McCon­nell makes my col­umn ob­so­lete by the time you see it by drop­ping this crazy bill. Most Amer­i­cans would rather not see their health care blown up, thank you very much.

Why are most of Gra- ham-Cas­sidy’s sup­port­ers politi­cians? Why are most of Gra­ham-Cas­sidy’s op­po­nents or­di­nary cit­i­zens and al­most all ma­jor med­i­cal, so­cial and in­sur­ance or­ga­ni­za­tions?

And why, why, why do we over and over again?

Pre­mi­ums for the elderly would in­crease by thou­sands of dol­lars un­der the Gra­ham-Cas­sidy bill.

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