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As Thursday vote looms, Paul Ryan tweaks Republican healthcare bill

Ryan proposes giving those in their 50s and 60s increased tax credits.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

As the American Health Care Act comes before a full vote of the House on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan is promising tweaks to the bill to help older Americans buy insurance.

The GOP bill has come under fire by Democrats and some Republicans for imposing too great a burden on older adults who would be expected to foot premiums five times that imposed on younger Americans using tax subsidies that opponents say won't come close to paying the bill.

A Congressional Budget Office report released last week showed this older demographic would also pay more in out-of-pocket costs than under the Affordable Care Act.

[Also: Seema Verma's first order of business: Boosting the Republican healthcare bill]

Ryan proposes giving those in their 50s and 60s increased tax credits. The American Health Care Act tax credits are based on age, rather than income, leaving a greater burden on lower-income Americans who get ACA subsidies to pay for deductibles and other out-of-pocket charges.

Providers have voiced concern over going back to pre-ACA and pre-Medicaid expansion days when hospitals and physicians faced more uncompensated care costs.

The CBO predicted that under the GOP healthcare plan, 14 million people would lose health coverage next year and 24 million over the next decade.

The American Health Care Act may face a battle to passage in the House, despite there being 237 Republican to 193 Democratic representatives.

Quick passage is seen as necessary to keep the insurance market stable. Under the bill, the CBO predicts rising premiums of 15 to 20 percent due to predictions of fewer healthy people enrolling because of the lack of a mandate for them to buy insurance. Also, the GOP bill keeps the ACA provision of not denying coverage because of preexisting conditions.

Insurers are getting ready to file their rates for 2018. The federal government has extended the deadline to file rates for the exchanges to June. Numerous insurers have withdrawn or will get out of the exchange markets in 2018, with more expected to leave if the bill is delayed.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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