Insurance Commissioner Jones calls House GOP amendments on AHCA cruel

SACRAMENTO, Calif. March 22, 2017 – California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones released the following statement in response to House GOP Manager’s Amendments to the American Health Care Act (AHCA):

“The House Republican leadership, in an attempt to gain support for the American Health Care Act, recently revealed amendments that have more to do with political appeasement than health care delivery.

According to House Republicans, apparently one of the major flaws of their bill is that it does not give massive tax breaks to the wealthy early enough. Accordingly, their amendment accelerates tax giveaways to the wealthy by a year. Most of the remaining amendments represent the GOP’s continued attack on Medicaid, the safety net that Americans have relied on for the past half-century.

Medicaid covers nearly half of all births in the U.S., covers over one-third of all children, and accounts for nearly half of all long-term care assistance for the elderly. Medicaid enables many children with severe disabilities to attend school, and many adults with severe disabilities to work. Studies indicate that in states like California that expanded Medicaid enrollment, the risk mix for those buying coverage in the individual market was improved, which helps keep premiums lower.

The House GOP’s “Manager’s Amendment” also accelerates the end of Medicaid expansion, which enabled more than 3.7 million additional Californians to obtain health coverage. Under the amendment, expansion will be closed to new enrollees at the end of this year, which will cruelly fast-track the onset of despair for many Californians.

Older Californians in their 50’s and 60’s will be devastated by Trumpcare. Covered California determined that, under ACA, a 62-year old with $17,000 annual income in 2020 who lives in Monterey, Santa Cruz, or San Benito County would have an out-of-pocket cost after subsidy of $622 per year. Under the AHCA, that same 62-year old will incur a massive increase in out-of-pocket cost, to $17,873 per year. The Manager’s Amendment purports to address the bill’s devastating impact on older Americans by playing a shell game in the Senate. The House Republican’s press release states that the Amendment “provides the Senate flexibility to potentially enhance the tax credit for those ages 50 to 64 who may need additional assistance,” without actually doing anything to accomplish this. Moreover, potentially increasing a capped tax credit does not protect seniors from the premium spikes permitted by the AHCA.

The amendments make a bad bill even worse. This bill is nothing more than a tax giveaway to the wealthy masquerading as health care reform. It hurts those who must rely on Medicaid, and does nothing concrete to address the concerns of older Californians on limited incomes.”