Wallie Morris: Stripping seniors of health care is shameful | SteamboatToday.com

Wallie Morris: Stripping seniors of health care is shameful

Senate Republicans should be ashamed. In an effort to reduce the deficit and decrease federal spending, they are championing major cuts in Medicaid and encouraging increased rates of private insurance for older adults. These changes could leave many of the nation's seniors unable to afford or obtain health care.

Seniors of all income levels will be negatively impacted by this bill and will almost certainly see skyrocketing costs and/or a decrease in benefits.

In the Senate's legislation, insurance companies can charge an older person five times what they would charge a younger person for the same plan. A study by RAND corporation estimates that a 64-year-old's premiums would increase by about 25 percent or on average $2,090 per year.

While placing the cost burden on seniors is shameful, the enormous cuts to Medicaid are unconscionable. Medicaid provides health and long-term care coverage to 6 million seniors, with the numbers expecting to increase as baby boomers age. Sixty-four percent of all nursing home residents rely on Medicaid for their health care and livelihood.

Instead of a matching program for federal spending like under the ACA, the new bill funds Medicaid by giving states a per capita amount or "per capita cap." Options to manage state Medicaid spending under these "caps" include covering fewer people, covering fewer services, or both, as many states don't have the funds to sustain these programs without the matched federal funds. Whether from cuts to Medicaid or huge increases in premiums, seniors will be left without affordable health care should the Senate's bill become law.

This bill will negatively impact seniors. Your parents or grandparents may find themselves unable to afford or access both basic and life saving health care services.

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The GOP wants to transfer the financial burden of health care from insurance companies and the wealthy to the poor and most vulnerable. Do not stand for a bill that strips seniors of their right to health care.

Call Senator Cory Gardner and tell him to vote “no” on this shameful health care bill: Washington office, 202-224-5941; Denver office, 303-391-5777. Call for your parents, call for grandparents, call because it's the right thing to do.

Wallie Morris

Steamboat Springs