B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International strongly urges the United States Senate to use the July 4 recess to improve the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). As written, the measure would have adverse consequences for many communities, including low-income seniors. B’nai B’rith has been a long-time advocate for healthy aging for seniors. This plan could put in grave danger many tools currently in place to help seniors navigate health care.
Monday’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score finds that under the BCRA the number of low-income older Americans without insurance would substantially increase.
Among the many troubling aspects of the BCRA is a Medicare payroll tax repeal, which would speed up the Medicare insolvency rate. Weakening the financial well-being of Medicare could put in jeopardy health care benefits that low-income seniors rely on.
Similar to health care changes proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate’s BCRA turns Medicaid into a block grant program to be administered at the state level. Doing this places deep fiscal strains on already-suffering state budgets, which in turn, could adversely affect seniors of limited means. For example, without significant Medicaid assistance, the cost of nursing home care could be out of reach for too many. Where would those people go?
Despite the Senate’s plans for inclusion of protections for those with pre-existing conditions, we are deeply troubled that older Americans will have to pay higher costs for essential health care benefits such as chronic disease management and hospitalization.
Also, under the BCRA older Americans are allowed to be charged five times more than younger people. This would cause a dramatic spike in health care costs for older adults.
Countless low-income seniors could face fiscal ruin under the Senate’s proposed plan. More hearings and debate amongst lawmakers should occur before this legislation is put up for a vote.