Senate Republicans released their version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), aka Trumpcare, this morning. The primary purpose of the bill is to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. You can read it in its entirety right here.
In sharing their analysis of the Senate health care bill, various news outlets are stating that there will be drastic cuts to Medicaid. Meanwhile, we are paying attention to what the bill may mean for Medicare beneficiaries.
What the bill says
For starters, we noticed the language of Sections 115 and 117.
SEC. 115. REPEAL OF ELIMINATION OF DEDUCTION FOR EXPENSES ALLOCABLE TO MEDICARE PART D SUBSIDY.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 139A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: ‘‘This section shall not be taken into account for purposes of determining whether any deduction is allowable with respect to any cost taken into account in determining such payment.’’. (b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendment made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2016.
SEC. 117. REPEAL OF MEDICARE TAX INCREASE.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Subsection (b) of section 3101 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended to read as follows: ‘‘(b) HOSPITAL INSURANCE.—In addition to the tax imposed by the preceding subsection, there is hereby imposed on the income of every individual a tax equal to 1.45 percent of the wages (as defined in section 3121(a)) re-ceived by such individual with respect to employment (as defined in section 3121(b).’’. (b) SECA.—Subsection (b) of section 1401 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended to read as follows: ‘‘(b) HOSPITAL INSURANCE.—In addition to the tax imposed by the preceding subsection, there shall be imposed for each taxable year, on the self-employment income of every individual, a tax equal to 2.9 percent of the amount of the self-employment income for such taxable year.’’. (c) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to remuneration received after, and taxable years beginning after, December 31, 2022.
What media outlets are reporting
Of course, the legalese of most Congressional bills can be confusing. So here’s what some media reports are saying:
Seeking Alpha, which focuses on investment research, reports that the Senate version of the AHCA will repeal the elimination of the deduction for Medicare Part D. It will also repeal the Medicare tax increase which, according to the Los Angeles Times, is a 0.9% increase.
The BBC is stating that the bill will phase out Obamacare’s expansion of Medicare, only more gradually than the House version of the AHCA. Another difference between the House version and Senate version, according to the Baltimore Sun, remains that older individuals who are not yet eligible for Medicare would have been more poorly affected by the House version. Under the Senate version, the benefits for seniors on Medicare would be better yet it would come at the expense of younger and healthier citizens.
The Daily Caller shared MSNBC’s footage of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as she stated that “[The Senate version of the AHCA] will do exactly what the House bill did: increase costs for fewer benefits, it will have an age tax…undermine Medicare by reducing its solvency…and millions and millions and millions of people will lose their healthcare.”
In addition to sharing the footage, the Daily Caller states that the bill will make cuts to Medicare. Various outlets have made the similar statement, but have not cited any specific language in the bill or statements by members of Congress that back up the claim.
This bill is awful for anyone planning on aging. Age tax, nursing home cuts, robbing Medicare Trust Fund. 13
— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) June 22, 2017
Trump’s budget will affect seniors as well
The Senate bill is not the first news to come out of Washington that has senior citizens on edge. In March, President Trump’s administration released its proposed budget to the public, and it included cuts to Meals on Wheels for seniors and people with disabilities. Needless to say, many people on social media were not amused.
According to Sally W. Johnston, President of Disabled in Action of Greater Syracuse Inc., the Trump budget also suggests the elimination of Medicare’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). “This program helps individuals navigate the very complicated enrollment process in Medicare,” she said in a letter to The Post-Standard. “It also helps individuals learn about additional services they might need. AHCA will also require Medicare recipients to pay much higher premiums for the care.”
What happens next
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes to bring the Senate health care bill before the Senate for a vote before the July 4 recess. The bill still needs to be reviewed and analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office. The House version did not get a good review by the CBO, which spawned much discord on social media.
As more information comes to light, we here at Medicare World will do our best to keep you updated on new analysis on the bill.
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