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56K Hawai‘i Residents Could Lose Insurance Under New Healthcare Bill

July 10, 2017, 10:01 AM HST
* Updated July 9, 8:46 PM
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Roughy 56,000 Hawai‘i residents could lose their healthcare coverage by 2022 if the Senate’s proposed healthcare bill passes, according to new analysis from the AARP Public Policy Institute.

The bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act caps spending on Medicaid and cuts $772 billion in federal Medicaid spending, shifting costs to states, state taxpayers and families. Hawai‘i would lose an estimated $1.9 billion in total federal and state Medicaid funding from FY 2020 to FY 2026, according to AARP.

“The Senate health care bill means consumers will have to pay more for less coverage,” said Barbara Kim Stanton, state director of AARP Hawai‘i. “It will not reduce the cost of health insurance for older residents. The Medicaid cut would place a huge burden on lawmakers and taxpayers to either raise state taxes, cut health care services to Hawai‘i residents who need it the most, or cut services elsewhere. It threatens hospitals, especially on Neighbor Islands and in rural areas, which will have to absorb the cost of providing care to the increased number of uninsured.”

The legislation contains an age tax which allows insurance companies to charge older consumers five times more for the same health coverage as younger people, making insurance unaffordable for many older residents, according to AARP.

AARP estimates that a 60-year-old Hawai‘i resident who makes $30,000 annually could pay up to $4,450 a year in addition premiums and $1,276 more each year in deductibles, coinsurance and copayments under the bill. Premiums for a 60-year-old earning $55,000 in Hawai‘i could rise to as much as $8,661 more each year.

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Roughly 268,116 Hawai‘i residents are between the ages of 50 and 64 and 54 percent of them receive tax credit assistance under the Affordable Care Act.

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The AARP state analysis estimates that one out of every eight Medicaid beneficiaries, or about 43,000 people by 2026, would be forced to forfeit coverage to maintain the same level of service for remaining beneficiaries.

The bill would hurt elders and the providers who care for them due to reduced payments resulting from Medicaid cuts. The bill would also affect about 44,237 Hawai‘i residents ages 18 to 64 who leave or lose their jobs and who may have to buy coverage on the individual market, according to AARP.

In Hawai‘i last year, Medicare covered 224,880 residents–about 16 percent of the state’s population. Ninety-one percent are over the age of 65 and 9 percent are people with disabilities under age 65.

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“AARP Hawai‘i thanks Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono for their steadfast opposition to this bill,” Stanton said. “We urge the Senate Majority to dump this special interest bill that gives billions to insurance and drug companies by charging consumers, especially older Americans, higher costs for reduced benefits and strips away critical consumer protections. We need the bill to start from scratch and put consumer health needs first.”

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