Fla. Republican Gus Bilirakis concerned on Obamacare replacement

A Florida moderate became the latest Republican to call for boosting tax credits for seniors in the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis said Monday that the American Health Care Act is the best answer to replace the “unsustainable” Obamacare, but “more must be done within the bill to help Americans in their 50s and 60s with healthcare costs.” Bilirakis is the latest moderate to voice concerns about the high cost of insurance premiums for seniors not old enough for Medicare.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said last weekend that he is considering boosting the tax credits for seniors to help pay for the cost of their premiums, but no official announcement has been made nor any details about how much of a boost they would get.

Ryan’s statement comes as Republican leaders and the White House try to shore up support before an expected Thursday vote on the American Health Care Act. To entice conservatives, the White House already agreed to include a mandatory work requirement for Medicaid and an option to allow states to receive block grants for their federal funding.

Bilirakis and other moderates are concerned about premiums for people who are at least 50 but haven’t reached 65, the age for Medicare eligibility.

The bill’s tax credits are given out based on age, with older people getting more than younger people. Someone 60 years and above would get $4,000, while a person under 30 about $2,000.

That is different from Obamacare’s tax credits, which were given out based on income.

The problem for moderates is that the Republican plan allows insurers to charge seniors five times the amount they charge a younger person, up from the three times allowed under Obamacare.

AARP, the senior citizens lobby that is opposing the bill, said the change could cause premiums to soar for older Americans not on Medicare. The senior lobby said that 50- to 64-year-olds earning $15,000 a year would receive tax credits that are up to 60 percent less than the amount under Obamacare.

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The House Rules Committee is scheduled to take up the American Health Care Act, with a full House vote expected Thursday.

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