Ryan: More help for older people needed in GOP health bill
March 20, 2017 12:17 AM
J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
In this March 8 file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaks during a news conference at Republican National Committee Headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
By Hope Yen / Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Days before a pivotal vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday he will seek changes to a GOP health care bill to provide more help to older people. The new willingness to compromise was a bid for more support from moderate Republicans, who expressed continuing unease about the plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s health law unless significant changes were made.
Mr. Ryan said he felt “very good” about the bill’s prospects but acknowledged that House leadership was “making fine-tuning improvements to the bill to reflect people’s concerns.”
A House vote was scheduled for Thursday. As of Sunday, the number of Republicans in Congress who have expressed serious concerns about the bill as it stands — or outright said they would vote against it — is enough to kill the bill in both chambers: 20 senators and 45 House lawmakers, including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.
“We believe we should have even more assistance. And that’s one of the things we’re looking at for that person in their 50s and 60s because they experience higher health care costs,” Mr. Ryan said.
Under the GOP plan, older people who are not yet eligible for Medicare stand to be the biggest losers. It would shrink the tax credits they use to buy insurance and increase their premiums because the bill allows insurers to charge more as people age and become more susceptible to health problems.
A Congressional Budget Office analysis last week said a 64-year-old with income of $26,500 would pay $1,700 out of pocket for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, compared with $14,600 under the GOP plan. It estimated that 24 million people of all ages would lose coverage over 10 years.
On Sunday, Mr. Ryan said he believed the CBO analysis was not accurate because Obamacare wouldn’t be able to last 10 years. But he allowed the additional assistance was one of several House revisions to be discussed in advance of Thursday’s vote, along with possible changes to help low-income people more with tax credits and require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to meet work requirements.
“We think that we should be offering even more assistance than what the bill currently does,” he said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price also said legislative revisions were possible.
“If it needs more beefing up … for folks who are low income, between 50 and 64 years of age, that’s something that we’ve talked about, something that we’ve entertained, and that may happen throughout the process,” he said.