Hawaii medical groups call GOP health proposal 'life-threatening'

Hawaii medical groups call GOP health proposal 'life-threatening'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite the Trump administration's labeling of the Senate health care bill as a 'patient centric' measure that offers less to special interest groups than did Obamacare, some groups in Hawaii issued a warning on Wednesday that Medicaid for more than 350,000 low-income and disabled residents could face serious cuts under the proposal.

"I am worried about my patients," said Dr. Tricia Wright, an OB/GYN who treats addiction in women. "I'm very concerned that any cuts to Medicaid could be life-threatening to them and their families."

Nearly all of Dr. Wright's patients are on Medicaid, and she worries that access to pregnancy care, birth control and addiction treatment could be slashed under the GOP's health care plan.

"Medicaid pays for a good deal of addiction treatment, and addiction treatment saves lives," she said. "If they aren't able to access that, they can relapse to heroin and overdose."

Wright recently returned from Washington, where she and members of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists lobbied Republican Senators on the fence about the GOP's health care plans.

Barbara Kim Stanton, the state director of AARP, calls the bill "mean spirited," saying an internal analysis of the measure shows that a 60-year-old Hawaii resident earning $55,000 per year could have to pay up to $8,600 more for health insurance in 2020.

"For a person who's 60, as you get older, you have more health needs. This 'age tax' means they will probably get less health care," said Stanton.

AARP says the GOP bill also impacts Medicaid beneficiaries of all ages.

"It dismantles Medicaid as we know it, which would provide health care guarantees for the disabled and those with low income," she said.

AARP also warns 56,000 Hawaii residents will lose their health care coverage by 2022. The President's advisors have said Republicans are not cutting Medicaid, and that the proposals slow the rate at which Medicaid spending increases, though spending would still increase.

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