The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

For many seniors, retirement gets more expensive if Senate’s health-care bill is passed

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell crafted the Republicans’ Senate health-care bill, which represents the party’s long-awaited attempt to scuttle much of the Affordable Care Act. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

It arrived, and it’s not kind to some seniors.

The Senate finally unveiled its health-care overhaul of the Affordable Care Act — the Better Care Reconciliation Act. But already, many critics say it won’t be better and is less caring for Americans between 50 and 64, who have years before qualifying for Medicare.

Soon after Republican senators dropped the draft of their health-care bill — which was negotiated behind closed doors — #HeathcareBill began trending on Twitter.

AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond says the Senate bill imposes an “Age Tax” on older adults, which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else and cuts the tax credits that help make insurance more affordable.

“AARP is also deeply concerned that the Senate bill cuts Medicaid funding that would strip health coverage from millions of low-income and vulnerable Americans who depend on the coverage, including 17 million poor seniors and children and adults with disabilities,” LeaMond said in a statement. “The proposed Medicaid cuts would leave millions, including our most vulnerable seniors, at risk of losing the care they need and erode seniors’ ability to live in their homes and communities.”

The Daily 202: Senate Republicans want to get to yes on the health care bill

Here’s how the Senate bill would affect older Americans:

— “The bill would restructure Medicaid, narrow the program’s eligibility and probably decrease its funding,” report The Washington Post’s Kim Soffen and Darla Cameron. “Medicaid would be funded by giving states a per capita amount or block grant, beginning in 2021. The amount would grow more slowly than in the House bill, meaning bigger spending cuts overall.”

A side-by-side look at the differences in Obamacare versus the House and Senate bills

“For the seven million seniors and their families who rely on Medicaid to stay healthy and independent, the Senate health care bill is even more mean-spirited than the House-passed American Health Care Act,” said Howard Bedlin, vice president for public policy and advocacy for the National Council on Aging. “In particular, the bill will pull the rug out from under millions of families who are struggling to keep their spouses, parents and grandparents out of nursing homes. This is because states are required to pay for care in nursing homes, but care at home is optional. Because the proposed caps do not adjust for an aging population, the nation’s oldest and most vulnerable seniors will be hit the hardest.”

— “The Senate bill would maintain much of Obamacare’s subsidy structure to help people pay for individual coverage, but make it less generous, particularly for older enrollees,” Tami Luhby reports for CNNMoney.

Fact Checker: Trump’s claim about the ‘catastrophe’ of Obamacare premiums increasing 204 percent in Alaska

— Eligibility criteria would tighten starting in 2020, “shutting out more middle-class folks from government help. Only those earning up to 350 percent of the poverty level ($41,600) would qualify, rather than the 400 percent threshold ($47,500) contained in Obamacare,” Luhby writes.

— Subsidies are reduced for older Americans with moderate incomes. “They would have to put a larger share of their income toward coverage than younger ones earning the same amount,” Luhby reports. “For instance, a 60-year-old enrollee making 350 percent of the poverty line would have to pay 16.2 percent of his income toward premiums, while a 29-year-old would only have to shell out 6.4 percent.”

— Insurers can charge older folks differently than younger consumers. “The bill would allow insurers to charge older consumers based on a 5-to-1 ratio, rather than the current 3-to-1 ratio,” reports The Post’s Sean Sullivan, Kelsey Snell and Juliet Eilperin.

Ann Brenoff for HuffPost runs down how the Senate bill specifically affects older Americans: “For Seniors, Senate Health Care Bill Is Even Worse Than The House Version”

If you don’t have health coverage through a workplace plan or a pension, keep up with this debate. However it shakes out, it’s likely you’ll need to save more for health-care costs in retirement.

In a Facebook posting, former president Barack Obama weighed in on the issue, writing, “I hope our Senators ask themselves — what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid?”

Obama’s warning: “Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old or start a family — this bill will do you harm.”

I’d like to hear your thoughts on the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Do you think the criticism is too harsh and that the bill is fair? Will you be negatively affected by the health care changes the GOP wants? Send your comments to

Retirement rants and raves
I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement.

Did you retire early and if so, how did you do it?

Is retirement everything you hoped for?

Are you scared you’ll run out of money?

Sharing your experiences might help others. So send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line, put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”

Blogging about retirement
In this new section of the newsletter, I’ll regularly feature a retirement blog posting I find interesting or useful.

I believe that wealth happens intentionally, and for me that means reading as much as I can about all things financial, especially retirement. Don’t let anyone tell you that saving, planning and living in retirement is easy. There’s a lot you need to know.

To start off, here’s a posting from about some retirement blogs you might want to bookmark. I love how the blogs are rated from advanced to beginner: 10 Retirement Blogs Worth Reading

If you have a favorite blog or you read a posting that you found entertaining or helpful or that made you mad, let me know. Send your suggestions to Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line, put “Retirement blog.”

Newsletter comments policy
Please note it is my personal policy to identify readers who respond to questions I ask in my newsletters. I find it encourages thoughtful and civil conversation. I want my newsletters to be a safe place to express your opinion. On sensitive matters or upon request, I’m happy to include just your first name and/or last initial. But I prefer not to post anonymous comments. (I do make exceptions when I’m asking questions that might reveal sensitive information or cause conflict.)

Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.