Figures Show Health Care Prognosis Really Not Good for
Blacks, Elderly and Poor
The truth is be afraid…very afraid.
Facts are out there on health care, but the big problem is few Blacks and elderly either don’t know the details; or in the Black community, people just are not informed and alarmed enough about what damaging changes could loom in the new plan.
Facts are, the plan hurts the elderly and is not good for poor Black folks – those population groups who can least afford to have their financial cart of apples upset.
As the trumpets sound to circle the wagons to protect the elderly and children, now is the time to come off citizen sidelines and let Washington know you are here, hold the power and will be heard on this very important issue.
Time to Get Informed
“This version of the bill is, unsurprisingly, just as inhumane and heartless as the bill that passed in the House of Representatives,” according to Houston Congressman Al Green. “This bill does not save healthcare, nor will this bill provide for the needs of millions of Americans.”
Key Facts on Senate Proposed Health Care Legislation
- Strips tens of millions of Americans access to health insurance.
Increases premiums and out-of-pocket costs like deductibles for millions, forcing families, the elderly, and other individuals to pay more for less coverage.
Caps and cuts Medicaid funding, ending the federal 50-plus year commitment to match state’s Medicaid cost.
Eliminates Medicaid expansion in 2023, and in the meantime rolls back pivotal protections for those enrolled in the expansion.
Decimates nationwide protections for the 1 in 2 people with pre-existing conditions in this nation by allowing states to eliminate essential health benefits standards that ensure plans cover the care people need like prescription drug coverage.
Defunds Planned Parenthood by blocking individuals enrolled in Medicaid from accessing critical health care services at Planned Parenthood health care centers for one year.
Provides massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and corporations.
“It is in our best interest to listen to the American people as they hold the real power,” said Green. “The new CBO score confirmed that the Senate Republicans’ version of Trumpcare is worse than the bill that the GOP jammed through the House. It is a tax benefit for the greedy masquerading as a healthcare plan for the needy. This legislation robs working families of billions for healthcare to reward the rich with billions in wealth care.”
Key groups are also sounding off too, calling the measure a prescription for death and more illness for the elderly, poor and minorities who cannot afford good health care coverage that the rich enjoy without prejudice.
African-Americans and the elderly stand to be be big losers if the plan passes as is and reconciles with the House plan that summarily disregards the health care needs of poor Blacks, Hispanics and the elderly.
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS, strongly opposes the recently introduced health care legislation.
Isaiah Wilson, NBJC Director of External Affairs calls the ‘Better Care Reconciliation Act’ a shameful piece of legislation that will be disastrous for so many Americans who depend on the benefits provided under the ACA.
“We were promised a more humane proposal by Senate Republicans compared to the House-passed health care reform legislation. However, the bill put forward in the Senate continues the tragic attack on the most marginalized in our nation by cruelly ending Medicaid as we know it, leaving our children, elderly and people with disabilities unprotected.,” he said. “All people of good will must speak out immediately and demand that their Senators work across the political aisle in a transparent manner to develop a bill that actually addresses the real problems with our current health care system—not this legislation which is morally bankrupt from the onset.”
Overview Demonstrates How Black Affected
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 37 million Blacks residing in the United States make up more than a tenth of the total population. In eight states, largely concentrated in the South, and the District of Columbia, Blacks comprise at least 20% of the total population, whereas they comprise a very small share of the population in many states in the Northwest and Midwest.
Over half of all Blacks live in just eight states, including Texas, Florida, Georgia, New York, California, North Carolina, Illinois, and Maryland.
Some Key Heath Care Facts about Blacks in America
As of 2013, there are over 7 million uninsured nonelderly Blacks, who make up about 15% of the total nonelderly uninsured population. Over five in six (84%) uninsured Blacks are adults, while the remaining one million are children age 18 or younger. More than two-thirds are in a working family, including half who have at least one full-time worker in the family.
Nationwide, just over one in five (21%) of Blacks do not have health insurance. However, the likelihood of being uninsured varies widely across states, ranging from 9 percent of Blacks in Delaware to 30 percent in Louisiana. Uninsured rates for nonelderly Blacks are particularly high in the South (Figure 5). The largest uninsured nonelderly Black populations reside in Florida (718,800), Texas (613,100), and Georgia (594,600). In addition, Blacks comprise a large share of the uninsured population in the District of Columbia (52%), Mississippi (48%), and Louisiana (42%).
Blacks are significantly more likely than Whites to be uninsured. Reflecting their limited access to employer-sponsored insurance, less than half of nonelderly Blacks have private coverage compared to over seven in ten non-Hispanic Whites (Figure 6). Medicaid coverage helps fill some of the gap in private health insurance, covering nearly one in three of all nonelderly Blacks (32%). However, Medicaid does not fully offset the difference leaving more than one in five (21%) nonelderly Blacks uninsured, compared to 13% their White counterparts.
Medicaid covers over half of Black children (51%), helping to substantially fill their gap in private coverage. Medicaid plays a much more limited role for Black adults, leaving more than a quarter uninsured (26%). These coverage patterns reflect the fact that states have significantly expanded children’s eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP, while Medicaid eligibility for adults remains very limited in most states.
Be Alarmed and Wake Up
According to a 2013 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation report on Medicaid and the Uninsured, indicates widespread research that shows that uninsured individuals experience worse access to care and poorer health outcomes.
Moreover, evidence suggests that Blacks face wide and persistent disparities in health and health care.4 For example, infant mortality rates are significantly higher for Black infants and Black males of all ages have the shortest life expectancy compared to all other groups.
Also, several chronic conditions affect a greater percentage of Blacks compared to non-Hispanic Whites, including diabetes and obesity.
In addition, Blacks are less likely to have a usual source of care, compared to Whites.
Conversely, coverage gaps, especially in states that do not move forward with the Medicaid expansion, may lead to widening disparities in coverage and care over time.
“Americans with pre-existing conditions will face significant out-of-pocket costs…Twenty-two million Americans will lose health insurance,” Green said. “This bill means higher health costs and loss of coverage for millions of hard-working Americans. The crushing Medicaid cuts will be especially brutal on rural America.”
The Scare Impacts Older Americans Too
“Older Americans care deeply about access to and affordability of health care. They need and deserve affordable premiums, lower out of pocket costs, and coverage they can count on as they age. The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) does not achieve these goals,” AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in a letter to United States Senators. “We urge all Senators to vote NO on the Better Care Reconciliation Act and urge you to “start from scratch” and craft health care legislation that ensures robust insurance market protections, lowers costs, improves quality, and provides affordable coverage to all Americans.”
LeaMond is clear that health care changes are bad for those who can least afford proposed changes.
In fact, under the BCRA, premiums and out of pocket costs for 50-64 year-olds buying their own insurance would skyrocket, Medicaid coverage for millions of seniors and people with disabilities would be at risk and the fiscal sustainability of Medicare would be weakened.
In total, 22 million Americans would lose insurance coverage.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment.
Here are some key points African American Elderly need to know:
Costs in the Individual Private Insurance Market will Skyrocket
About 6.1 million Americans age 50-64 currently purchase insurance in the non-group market (“exchange”), and nearly 3.2 million are currently eligible to receive tax credits for health insurance coverage through an exchange. Affordability of both premiums and out-of-pocket costs is critical to older Americans and their ability to obtain and access health care. The BCRA will dramatically increase health care costs for older Americans who purchase health care through an exchange.
Specifically, the bill allows older Americans to be charged 5 times more than younger Americans.
The increased premiums for older Americans plus reduced tax credits equal an unaffordable age tax. The combined impact of premium increase and loss of cost-sharing subsidies will dramatically increase out-of-pocket costs for lower-income older adults.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that a 64-year old earning $26,500 will see their premium increase by $4,800 a year and would also lose thousands of dollars of cost-sharing subsidies that help with costs such as copays, coinsurance, and deductibles.
Under the BCRA, middle-class older Americans will be hit particularly hard. For a 64-year old earning $56,800, CBO estimates their premium will skyrocket by $13,700 under the BCRA. These increased health care costs are unaffordable and fail to address the concerns raised by low and middle-income Americans about the cost of their health care.
Failure to Address High Prescription Drug Costs
Older Americans use prescription drugs more than any other segment of the U.S. population, typically on a chronic basis. As we look at ways to lower health care costs in this country, we believe that Congress must do more to reduce the burden of high prescription drug costs on consumers and taxpayers. Rather than address costs, BCRA simply repeals the fee on manufacturers and importers of branded prescription drugs. This repeal removes $25.7 billion from the Medicare Part B trust fund between 2017 and 2026, and leads directly to higher Medicare Part B premiums.
Cuts to Medicaid and Long-Term Services and Supports Will Put Older Americans at Risk
AARP opposes the fundamental changes to the Medicaid program under the BCRA. Changing Medicaid into a per capita cap financing or block grant structure would endanger the health, safety, and care of millions of individuals who depend on the essential services provided through Medicaid.
“As with the House health bill, this Senate bill would cut Medicaid funding, impose an Age Tax by exorbitantly increasing insurance costs for older Americans, and does absolutely nothing to lower health care and drug costs,” LeMond said. “Report by the nonpartisan CBO confirms that Medicaid would experience even more drastic cuts in the second 10 year period, with reductions of over one third of the program, or 35 percent.”
Medicaid is a vital safety net and intergenerational lifeline for millions of individuals, including over 17.4 million seniors and children and adults with disabilities who rely on the program for critical health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS, i.e., assistance with daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, managing medications, and transportation).
Older adults and people with disabilities now account for about 60 percent of Medicaid spending, and cuts of this magnitude will result in loss of benefits and services for this vulnerable population.
The BCRA, which would cut $772 billion from the Medicaid program — or a 26 percent reduction from CBO’s current law projections — would have a devastating impact on the millions of Americans who depend on the program as well as state budgets which would be left with dramatic budget shortfalls. CBO estimates that there will be 15 million fewer Medicaid enrollees by 2026 than projected under current law.
Cuts in Medicare Funding Will Weaken its Ability to Pay Future Benefits
LeMond strongly urges Medicare be protected and strengthened for today’s seniors and future generations.
“We strongly oppose any changes to current law that could result in cuts to benefits, increased costs, or reduced coverage for older Americans.” She said. “We are dismayed that — given Medicare’s long-term financial challenges — the BCRA cuts a funding source that strengthens Medicare’s fiscal outlook, the additional 0.9 percent payroll tax on higher-income workers. Repealing this provision would cut Medicare funding by $58.6 billion, would hasten the insolvency of Medicare Part A by up to 2 years, and diminish Medicare’s ability to pay for services in the future.”
In essence, more Black people will die. More Elderly will die and other poor minorities will die or suffer under the plan. -That should be very alarming and condemn any who support that plan.
“NBJC will engage its constituency and other allies to push their Senators to commit to passing a better, more equitable health care reform package,” Wilson said. “The lives of so many in our nation depend on it.”
Elderly and Blacks can get involved by calling their Texas Senators offices to state concerns, support the elderly and express their lack of support and frustration for a bill that will leave them without the kind of quality health care needed to tackle medical issues that are sure to come.
Texas U.S. Senators are Senators John Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz.
Cornyn can be reached in Washington, D.C. at 202-224-2934.
Cruz can be contacted in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-5922
By: Darwin Campbell