Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact Florida | Tampa Bay Times

PolitiFact Florida: Is the GOP health bill bad for seniors? We fact-checked that

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King said Florida seniors face an 800 percent premium increase under the GOP health care bill.


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King said Florida seniors face an 800 percent premium increase under the GOP health care bill.

A Florida Democrat running for governor is warning about massive insurance rate increases for low-income seniors as part of the House Republican health care bill.

Chris King, a Winter Park businessman, recently called on Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to decry the health overhaul based on analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

"The only thing as reckless and disappointing as the 800 percent premium increases Florida seniors will face under Trumpcare is Rick Scott and Adam Putnam's silence on the issue," King said in a May 25 press release that describes the bill as hiking premiums for low-income seniors. Putnam is running for governor, and Scott is considering running for the U.S. Senate.

Is it true? Does the Republican health care plan, called the American Health Care Act, portend an 800 percent premium increase for low-income seniors?

It depends on your definition of seniors. King's comment could mislead readers to believe seniors on Medicare face 800 percent premium hikes under the terms of the House bill, and that's not the case. The CBO report addresses the impact of the American Health Care Act on individuals up to age 64 who buy on the individual marketplace and not Medicare.

However, he does have a point that low-income, older Americans would be hit harder than any other group under the bill that passed the House and earned President Donald Trump's applause.

CBO researchers considered the effect of the bill on a few different age brackets.

The May 24 report compares the average amount consumers who are 64 years old would spend in premiums under the current Affordable Care Act with what they would pay under the House legislation in 2026.

The bill would create two choose-your-own-adventure scenarios for states, giving them the option to obtain waivers to certain "essential health benefits" under current law. Either scenario, CBO found, means steeper increases for older, poorer Americans.

Here's what the estimates say about average insurance costs for a 64-year-old who earns $26,500 a year in 2026:

• Under the Affordable Care Act, that person would pay a net of $1,700 in premium costs for an individual market plan after subsidies. (A 21-year-old and 40-year-old would pay the same amount.)

• That net premium rises to $16,100 for states not requesting waivers to certain "essential health benefits" under current law. That's a jump of 847 percent.

• For states that obtain those waivers, the premium rises to $13,600, or a 700 percent hike.

Due to those rising costs for low-income, older Americans, the CBO predicted that many will lose insurance.

"Although the agencies expect that the legislation would increase the number of uninsured broadly, the increase would be disproportionately larger among older people with lower income — particularly people between 50 and 64 years old with income of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level," the report states.

There are two big reasons for this.

Under current law, insurance companies can charge older adults up to three times as much as younger people based on their age. The House bill increases the ratio to five times as much starting in 2018.

Also under current law, tax credits are tied to income, so low-income, older Americans receive large tax credits. Subsidies under the House bill, however, are instead based on age. The credits also don't vary based on the cost of insurance in a person's area.

"The changes to the subsidies and age bands all explicitly increase net premiums for seniors. That piece of the CBO score isn't really up for debate," said Chris Sloan at Avalere Health consulting.

Tax credits for older adults under the bill are only two times the size of that for younger adults, even though they face premiums five times as high, said Linda Blumberg, a health expert at the Urban Institute.

The CBO report shows that wealthier older Americans — 64-year-olds earning $68,500 — would fare far better: They would pay a 5 percent increase in non-waiver states and an 11 percent decrease in waiver states.

"If you're looking for an extreme scenario — someone the most hurt by AHCA — it would be a low-income senior living in a rural area," said Cynthia Cox, an expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "The person benefiting the most is a young affluent urbanite."

The CBO figures are based on a national average; insurance premiums could vary from county to county with costs rising in rural areas. A Kaiser map shows that under AHCA, a 60-year-old earning $20,000 a year would face a 772 percent increase for a premium in Miami-Dade. The same senior would pay a 1,594 percent increase in Gadsden County.

The Senate hasn't released its version of the health care bill, which could result in a drastically different situation for older Americans. Trump officials have talked about making other changes that they say would drive down insurance costs.

King's statement is partly accurate but missing needed context. We rate it Half True.

Read more rulings at

The statement

Says a Congressional Budget Office report found low-income seniors in Florida will face "800 percent premium increases" under the American Health Care Act.

Chris King, May 25 in a tweet

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Half True King was referring to a report that found low-income, older Americans in a disproportionately affected position compared to other age and income groups. But King said seniors, which would include people 65 and older who are mostly covered by Medicare, and the CBO report does not apply to them. We rate this statement Half True.

PolitiFact Florida: Is the GOP health bill bad for seniors? We fact-checked that 06/05/17 [Last modified: Sunday, June 4, 2017 7:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida football has become something to be endured, not enjoyed


    The Jim McElwain era at Florida is something to be endured, not enjoyed.

    Florida Gators defensive lineman Khairi Clark (54) leaves the field after the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. The Florida Gators lost to the Texas A&M Aggies 17-16 MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
  2. Who wants to trade? Hillsborough offers to swap land with Ybor-area property owners for potential Rays ballpark

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Trades are common when assembling a professional baseball team. Apparently, they're also useful when assembling land for a professional ballpark.

    Aerial photo of Ybor City centered around Centro Ybor and 7th Avenue. Hoping to assemble the land for a ballpark near Ybor City and the Channel District, Hillsborough County officials could government property with landowners there. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times.
  3. Hurricane Irma thrashed Tampa Bay homes sales in September

    Real Estate

    Hurricane Irma not only downed thousands of trees throughout the Tampa Bay area: It also sent home sales plunging in September.

    This home on Tampa's Davis Islands home sold in September for $5.2 million, making it the priciest sale of the month in the Tampa Bay area.
[Courtesy of Judson Brady Photography]
  4. Cannon Fodder podcast: Most important stat in Bucs-Bills game


    Greg Auman talks about the uncertainty at quarterback for the Bucs as they go to Buffalo in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Interceptions, such as this one by Brent Grimes against Arizona, will be the most important stat in Sunday's game.
  5. Encounters: In the quiet of exam rooms, women have been saying 'Me too' for years

    Human Interest


    Meet her with her clothes on.

    Don't make her greet you in a paper gown, slits down the front and flimsy ties. Shake her hand, if she wants to, and introduce yourself. Pause between sentences. This will make it clear that you are listening; that you will listen, to whatever she has to say. Observe what …

     Pam Kelly, a gynecologist at Tampa General Hospital's Family Care Center at HealthPark, teaches future doctors at the University of South Florida how to identify and treat victims of sexual assault. Gabriella Angotti-Jones  | Times