Baby Booming Senators Likely Won't Come Around on Healthcare By Luke Perry
Republicans and Democrats agree on little when it comes to healthcare, and The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), yet the current Senate standoff illuminates one trend that crosses party lines: Senators from states where Baby Boomers are the most populous generation overwhelmingly oppose the bill.
Baby boomers are the largest generation in 18 states. Half of the 36 Senators from these states are Democrats (including Angus King-ME, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats) and half are Republicans. The current count has 23 Senators from these states no/leaning no, and 13 yes/leaning yes.
Eight of these states have one Democratic and one Republican Senator (FL, MT, WI, WV, PA, OH, ME, MO), including four GOP Republicans opposed to the bill, Shelly Moore Capito (WV), Susan Collins (ME), Rob Portman (OH) and Ron Johnson (WI).
Five of these states are represented by two Democratic Senators (NM, MI, NH, CT, RI), all of whom are opposed to the bill. Five more of these states are represented by two Republican Senators (WY, SD, IW, SC, UT). One Republican in this group opposes the bill (Mike Lee-UT), but has done so because it is not conservative enough.
There are two key contributing factors to this trend. First, the Congressional Budget Office found that “lower premium assistance through the BCRA would cause premiums for older and low-income Americans to increase significantly,” as much as tripling in some cases.
Second, Medicaid spending is projected to decrease 35 percent over the next twenty years if the bill were passed. 4.6 million seniors receive insurance coverage through Medicaid, while 1 in 7 rely on the program for long term care. As we’ve previously suggested, GOP Senators from states that expanded Medicaid under The Affordable Care Act are more likely to oppose the bill. 11 of the 18 Baby Booming states expanded. The states that did not are predominately represented by Republicans.
The takeaway here is that older constituencies appear to correlate with greater reluctance by Senators to support the BCRA. This is little surprise given that older people vote in the largest numbers. The demographics won’t change anytime soon, so it’s hard to see how Republican leaders can build support through other incentives.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Professor of Government at Utica College. His column Sound Off! critiques various aspects of presidential politics.