Senators get pressure on Obamacare replacement effort from seniors and doctors

Two major groups representing older Americans and doctors urged US senators Monday to be careful in making big changes to Obamacare, as their Republican counterparts in the House of Representatives have called for.

A letter to every senator from AARP urged them to oppose the House’s American Health Care Reform Act, and to have the Senate “start from scratch” in writing new health-care legislation.

The AARP, previously known as the American Association of Retired Persons, said it wanted legislation “that ensures robust insurance market protections, controls costs, improves quality and provides affordable coverage to all Americans.”

The House bill does not do that, said the AARP, calling it a “deeply flawed” and “harmful bill for older Americans,” particularly since it would allow insurers to charge people age 50 to 64 five times the premium prices charged younger customers.

Five days before sending the letter to senators, AARP posted on its website a tally of how House members voted on the bill.

In its own letter to Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate, the American Medical Association warned that “significant changes to the [Affordable Care Act] or Medicaid programs potentially threaten the ability for millions of Americans to obtain and retain coverage.”

“Any new proposal should ensure that comprehensive coverage options remain available and affordable, regardless of income, age or place of residence,” said the AMA, the largest group representing physicians in the United States.

The letters come almost two weeks after the Republican-led House passed the AHCA in a party-line vote. The Senate now is considering the bill, which would change Obamacare’s subsidy method, as well as funding levels for Medicaid, the joint federal-state program covering mainly poor Americans.

A number of GOP senators have a dim view on the House bill, which is projected to lead to sharp drops in the number of insured Americans if it were to become law.

The Senate is widely expected to come up with its own version of the bill.

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