U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney Joins Seniors to Warn Against a Repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Brooklyn

HOST INTRO: Last week, President Trump outlined his plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Among key changes: It will greatly reduce federal payments to Medicaid, which provides healthcare to more than 70 million Americans. But the details are blurry. And seniors are concerned. Kristin Schwab reports from the Swinging 60s Senior Center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

HOST INTRO: Last week, President Trump outlined his plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Among key changes: It will greatly reduce federal payments to Medicaid, which provides healthcare to more than 70 million Americans. But the details are blurry. And seniors are concerned. Kristin Schwab reports from the Swinging 60s Senior Center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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SCHWAB 1: When 70-year-old Brooklyn resident Virginia Molloy picked up her thyroid prescription at the pharmacy last week, she was handed an unexpected bill.

MOLLOY 1: And all of a sudden they changed the tier levels. And I now have to pay $10 a month.

SCHWAB 2: Before last week, Malloy’s medication was free. She admits $10 for mediation may not sound drastic. But that’s just for one prescription. And for a retiree in New York City, every dollar counts.

It’s hard to say if the price of Malloy’s medication was affected by Donald Trump’s Affordable Care Act proposal. But one thing is clear: The 30 or so senior citizens who gathered this morning at Swinging 60s Senior Center are worried about what’s to come. They’re finishing their dollar breakfast of oatmeal and coffee when Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney arrives.

MALONEY 1: How’s the food? Very good?

SCHWAB 3: She’s here to address their concerns. But no one quite knows how Trump’s proposed changes will affect seniors. So it’s hard to have a conversation when all you have are ifs.

MALONEY 2: We do know that the new Republican plan will aim to faze out Medicaid expansion which has helped bring health care coverage to millions of low income americans.

SCHWAB 4: Thomas D’Aunno [dee-YAH-no], the director of NYU’s Health Policy and Management Program, agrees. The details are hazy. He’s also left guessing. He says, the future of Medicaid and Medicare could go in a few directions. Option 1: Medicare becomes privatized and seniors shop for their own insurance.

D’AUNNO 1: On the surface that seems very reasonable.

SCHWAB 5: But, he says, it’s not.

There’s a good deal of research that shows that individuals including seniors have a hard time choosing among insurance plans and often times will choose plans that are not optimal for their needs.

SCHWAB 6: Other options: D’Aunno says? Cuts to the Medicare budget, which could mean a downgrade in the quality of care. Defunding the Center for Medicare innovation, which looks to fill gaps in Medicare coverage. And lastly, cutting resources for the 9 million low income seniors who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.

D’Aunno’s assessment?

D’AUNNO 6: Certainly some of the policy proposals don’t look good. They don’t look promising for lots of seniors across the United States.

SCHWAB 10: And back at the senior center, Virginia Molloy is not feeling hopeful.

MOLLOY 2: We’re just the forgotten ones, the seniors. They’re almost putting us on a block of ice and sending us out to sea or something. I think it’s gonna be hard for all of us.

SCHWAB 11: Proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act are open for public comment until March 7.

Kristin Schwab, Columbia Radio News.

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