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By Stephanie Carson, Tennessee News Service

Twenty-four million people by 2026. That’s the estimate given by the estimate given by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office of how many people would lose health coverage if the American Health Care Act is passed and signed into law.

The report points out the AHCA allows insurers to charge up to five times more for older enrollees, and AARP’s policy analysts say states would be able to further increase that ratio.

AARP Tennessee’s new state president, Kraig Smith, says that’s only part of the problem.

“Older Tennesseans and the disabled depend on Medicare for affordable health care,” he said. “The voucher system which is currently being proposed by Congress would dramatically increase health-care costs for the current and future retirees. It could mean many thousands of dollars out of their own pockets.”

The report predicts that premiums will increase until 2020 and then drop to 10 percent lower than current rates by 2026. That only applies to the younger population. Supporters of the legislation say it will lower rates for a majority of Americans.

A key component of the House plan is its voucher system, which would provide vouchers to people to purchase insurance through a private insurer. Smith says that will leave the remaining costs passed on to the consumer.

“If the voucher system is enacted, there will be a baseline amount of benefits and dollar value and anything above that would be passed on to the beneficiary,” he explained.

This month, AARP issued a letter to Congress opposing the House plan, asserting it would shorten the life of Medicare, cause cost hikes in insurance premiums, risk the ability of aging Americans to live independently and give tax breaks to big drug companies and health-insurance companies.