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AARP: GOP Health Care Bill Weakens Coverage For Seniors

| by Robert Fowler

AARP has come out against the Senate Republicans' health care bill, asserting that the legislation was crafted through questionable means and that it would harm U.S. seniors.

On June 22, Senate Republicans unveiled their draft version of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. AARP Executive President Nancy LeaMond swiftly condemned the draft in a statement, the Washington Examiner reports.

"This new Senate bill was crafted in secrecy behind closed doors without a single hearing or open debate -- and it shows," LeaMond said. "The Senate bill would hit millions of Americans with higher costs and result in less coverage for them. AARP is adamantly opposed to the Age Tax, which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else while reducing tax credits that help make insurance more affordable."

AARP lobbies on behalf of Americans aged 50 and above. In LeaMond's view, the GOP health care bill would make unacceptable changes to Medicare and Medicaid that would adversely impact seniors.

"The proposed Medicaid cuts would leave millions, including our most vulnerable seniors, at risk of losing the care they need and erode seniors' ability to live in their homes and communities," LeaMond continued. "The Senate bill also cuts funding for Medicare which weakens the programs ability to pay benefits and leaves the door wide open to benefit cuts and Medicare vouchers. AARP has long opposed proposals that cut benefits or weaken Medicare."

The Association of American Medical Colleges also blasted the draft in a statement, The New York Times reports.

"We are extremely disappointed by the Senate bill released today," the AAMC said. "Despite promises to the contrary, it will leave millions of people without health coverage, and others with only bare-bones plans that will be insufficient to properly address their needs."

Scott Schoettes, a former member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS who resigned in protest from the Trump administration on June 13, gave a more direct and grave condemnation of the draft.

"It will kill people -- that's not hyperbole," Schoettes told BuzzFeed News. "There will be some people who will die from this."

While the Senate Majority Leader, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has expressed a desire to pass a repeal of the ACA before the chamber's July 4 recess, four GOP senators have already come out against the draft.

GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin released a joint statement accusing the bill would not "accomplish the most important promise we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs."

McConnell can only afford to lose two Republicans in his attempt to pass the legislation, giving the four GOP senators significant leverage.

In Schoettes' view, though, their opposition to the bill will not yield a better bill.

"Most conservative Republicans who want deeper cuts have already come out against the bill, which means if it's going to move anywhere it's just going to become worse instead of being improved," Schoettes said.

The most prominent supporter of the health care draft is President Donald Trump. On June 22, the president took to Twitter to share his views on it: "I am very supportive of the Senate [health care bill]. Look forward to making it really special! Remember, ObamaCare is dead."

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