Brandon Thompson, Western Slope Now
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo – U.S Senate Republicans release a draft of their legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The proposal attempts to rein in the deficit by rollback the federal expansion of Medicaid from 138% of the poverty level to its original 100%. It also limits growth to federal Medicaid funding by 2025.
“It will blow a hole in our state budget.” said Adam Fox, the Director for Strategic Engagement at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.
For those individuals who are covered through Medicaid, state’s would have to cover the costs for their health care to be covered.
In the past legislative session for the Colorado General Assembly, Governor John Hickenlooper included cuts to the hospital provider fee, which pays hospitals a proportion of the cost of Medicaid Patient treatment. It took a late-session deal to maintain the fund, but officials say, it would be tough for the state to take on any additional Medicaid costs.
“We don’t really have the ability in this state to back fill federal money,” said Kelli Frifft, the director of advocacy for AARP Colorado.
People with incomes below the federal poverty line would be eligible for tax credits not seen under the ACA, but the tax credits won’t help as many people as the ACA as it reduces the qualification from 400% of the poverty level to 350%.
AARP as an organization has not taken a stance on the draft as they are waiting for an analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, however in Colorado, officials are not a fan.
The proposal would increase what health insurers can charge seniors from three times normal rates to five times.
In addition to that potential rise in cost, the state director for AARP Colorado wishes that, what he calls one of the single highest contributors to the rising cost of health care, would have been addressed.
“That’s the cost of prescription drugs,” said Bob Murphy, ” Instead it does five tax breaks to drug companies, medical device companies and insurance companies. [I’m] not sure we’re getting at the real root of rising costs of health care in the U.S.”
Murphy isn’t the only one concerned about tax breaks in the proposal.
“What it really is is a tax cut for the richest Americans that’s masquerading as a health care bill.” said Sen. Michael Bennet, a democrat from Colorado.
The proposal eliminates a tax from the ACA on investments from Americans making over $200,000 a year.
Bennet’s counterpart, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner says he hasn’t decided on his support for the move and encourages other law makers to do the same.
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