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home : opinions : columns August 27, 2015

4/10/2014 9:42:00 AM
Affordable Care Act creates burdens for seniors
Tim Scott
U.S. Senator

At this point, it’s already clear that Obamacare is doing far more harm than good. We’ve all become familiar with the soaring premiums, lost coverage, and the dismal sign up numbers. Families and young people are routinely being priced out of the market, hourly workers are seeing their workweek slashed, and individuals are losing access to their doctors. We know now the promise that if you liked your healthcare, you could keep it turned out not to be true, and even after sinking $1.5 trillion dollars into this program over the next 10 years, there will still be 31 million uninsured people in the U.S. One of the burdens Obamacare has created for many is a shorter workweek and the resulting lower take home pay.

The Affordable Care Act has taken the liberty of redefining “full time” work from 40 to 30 hours per week, causing many workers to see their hours cut from 40 down to only 29–with a corresponding 25% cut in income. For a family who is managing resources carefully to make ends meet, this can be devastating. While our first goal is the full repeal of Obamacare, I introduced an amendment earlier this year to restore the 40 hour workweek that has been unraveled by bad legislation. This and other examples, such as a broken website and costly taxes on small businesses, have been in the headlines almost from the beginning.

However, Obamacare’s harmful effects on Medicare Advantage are now beginning to have real world consequences for our seniors. Senior citizens living in Elgin, Santee, and other small towns across South Carolina are already finding that their monthly incomes are stretched thin with rising healthcare costs. Many are currently spending thirty percent or more of their monthly income on insurance, co-pays, and the prescription drugs they need—further hikes could mean a choice between heating their homes or buying groceries for the week. As a direct result of the Affordable Care Act, many seniors who now rely on Medicare Advantage – almost half of whom live on under $20,000 a year – are seeing benefits slashed and painful premium increases. Increases of between $65 and $145 a month can be devastating to an older American living on a fixed income, and there is no end in sight.

Further cuts to the program projected through 2015 will likely make a bad situation even worse. This past week, I joined 40 of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in sending a letter to the administration asking them to make providing consistent care to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries a priority and to minimize disruption to payment levels in 2015. Our seniors are the cornerstones of our communities. They are our parents and grandparents, and they have made tremendous sacrifices to provide all of us the opportunities that we have today.

We owe it to them to keep the promise and preserve the Medicare Advantage that they are counting on. From legislation to letters to federal agencies and addressing burdensome new regulations, fixing our healthcare system so that it actually works for people rather than politicians should be the goal we all work towards. I have consistently opposed Obamacare and will continue in my efforts to relieve the American people of the burden this bad law has imposed – for our families, our small businesses, our seniors, and our communities. Tim Scott is a United States Senator representing the great state of South Carolina.







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