February 13, 2017

Senator Hassan Leads Letter Urging Trump Administration Not to Move Forward with Reported Plans to Increase Health Insurance Costs for Older Americans

Senator Hassan Leads Letter Urging Trump Administration Not to Move Forward with Reported Plans to Increase Health Insurance Costs for Older Americans

Senators Carper, Brown, Klobuchar and Gillibrand Join Hassan LetterObjecting to Reported Plan to Let Insurance Companies Charge Older Americans More than Allowed under ACA

WASHINGTON - Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led a letter with several of her Senate colleagues today urging the Trump Administration not to move forward with changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would increase health insurance costs for older Americans.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price,Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH),TomCarper (D-DE), SherrodBrown (D-OH), AmyKlobuchar (D-MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on Secretary Price to drop the Trump Administration's reported plan to loosen the age rating requirement in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would have the direct impact of increasing health insurance costs for older adults on the non-group market without also expanding advance premium tax credits.

"We write to express our serious concerns that the Trump administration is reportedly considering a change to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would have the direct impact of increasing health insurance costs for older adults and ask that this policy be removed from consideration," the Senators wrote. "We oppose rolling back consumer protections established in the ACA that protect older Americans from discrimination. Loosening the age rating requirements in the ACA without also expanding advance premium tax credits is a misguided policy that will make health insurance less affordable for millions of Americans."

The Affordable Care Act cappedhow much insurance companies could charge older adults at no more than three times what they charge for younger adults. Before the ACA was enacted, some states allowed insurance companies to charge older adults as much as 25 times more than they charged younger adults. While the impact of efforts to loosen the age rating requirement varies depending on the details of any proposal, an AARP report found that one proposal would increase premium costs for adults ages 60 and older by $3,192, an increase of 22 percent.

"We are concerned that the reported proposal to relax the age band will amount to an insurance company give-away at the expense of older adults," added the Senators.

Full text of the letter is below:

February 13, 2017

The Honorable Tom Price

Secretary

Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Ave, SW

Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Price:

We write to express our serious concerns that the Trump administration is reportedly considering a change to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would have the direct impact of increasing health insurance costs for older adults and ask that this policy be removed from consideration. We oppose rolling back consumer protections established in the ACA that protect older Americans from discrimination. Loosening the age rating requirements in the ACA without also expanding advance premium tax credits is a misguided policy that will make health insurance less affordable for millions of Americans.

The Affordable Care Act established age bands to limit how much insurance companies can charge to cover older adults in the non-group market. Because of the ACA, insurance companies cannot charge older adults more than three times what they charge for younger adults. Loosening the age band would allow insurance companies to increase the cost of coverage for older adults in the non-group market and lead to reduced benefits. Before ACA was enacted, some states let insurance companies charge older adults as much as 25 times more than they charged younger adults. The 3:1 age band is a critically important consumer protection for older Americans, and without including additional federal assistance to older Americans, we urge you not to undermine it.

Studies have looked at proposals to widen the age band in the ACA, and while the impact of these proposals varies depending on its details, one study has concluded that one such proposal to widen the age band would increase premium costs for adults ages 60 and older by $3,192, an increase of 22 percent. While insurance companies will collect more money to cover older adults under these proposals, older adults will have to bear the burden of increased costs and reduced access to care. We are concerned that the reported proposal to relax the age band will amount to an insurance company give-away at the expense of older adults.

Congressional Republicans have voted and taken actions to take away critical financial assistance for people on the exchange - assistance that helps individuals afford the cost of care. The Republican reconciliation bill, H.R. 3762, to repeal the ACA would have eliminated these premium tax credits and the cost-sharing reductions. Republicans in the House of Representatives also brought a lawsuit to abolish the ACA's cost-sharing reductions, which could collapse the individual market and leave millions without health care. Attempts to take away premium subsidies would hurt low and moderate-income Americans in all age groups. If such efforts are successful, the increased costs to older Americans due to the reported proposal to widen the age band would be felt with an even greater intensity.

Additionally, the age bands established by the ACA were codified explicitly in statute. The law states that premium rates charged by health insurance companies for coverage in the individual or small group market "shall not vary by more than 3 to 1 for adults." Clearly, as the statute shows, it was Congress's intent to limit age rating by a ratio of precisely 3 to 1. Therefore, reports that the Trump administration is considering directly contradicting the statute by widening the age are incredibly troubling and should not proceed.

Charging older adults higher costs for coverage on the non-group market would harm their access to care. We urge you not to widen the 3:1 age band established by the ACA.

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