‘Age Tax’ backed by Rep. Walters attacks health care of older residents

Congresswoman Mimi Walter

Congresswoman Mimi Walters voted for a provision the AARP dubbed an "age tax," which allows insurers to charge older constituents more for health insurance.

Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) cheerfully supported a Republican bill to make health insurance significantly more expensive for older residents, an effort the AARP calls an “age tax.”

While the House bill failed in the Senate, Republicans are once again seeking to pass a major health care repeal bill, which means Walters may vote again to make insurance more expensive for her constituents.

In describing the “age tax,” the AARP says the Walters-backed bill would allow “insurance companies to charge people between the ages of 50 and 64 (those too young for Medicare) five times what they can charge younger consumers.” Under current law, insurance companies are limited to charging older customers three times as much.

Along with other provisions, the AARP estimated premiums for people in this age bracket could increase by up to $8,400 per year.

“It’s an outrage that anyone in the U.S. Congress could expect people over age 50 to pay thousands more for health coverage,” the AARP said before Congress voted on the bill, describing it as “even worse than we expected.”

In a letter to Congress, the AARP warned, “In addition to these skyrocketing premiums, out-of-pocket costs could significantly increase under the bill.”

But Walters ignored the AARP (and virtually every health care-related association) and voted exactly the way Trump asked Republicans to. After voting to make health care dramatically more expensive for her constituents, Walters beamed in a celebratory selfie next to Trump at a White House ceremony.

Republicans managed to tuck some health care provisions into the unpopular tax bill, and those changes are already having a negative impact for Californians. Covered California is seeking to increase premiums by 11 percent next year, and more than half of the increase is because of policy changes championed by Trump and Republicans.

But the ultimate GOP goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act is still unfulfilled. So a group of conservatives and Republicans are plotting to reintroduce another repeal bill in the near future. The final text of the bill is not yet available, so there is no way to tell if this bill would also impose an “age tax” or weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Walters voted for these provisions last time around, and may get a chance to vote again to make health care more expensive for older residents.

Shortly after winning her second term in Congress, Walters promised a “better way” on health care. But for her constituents aged 50-64, the bill Walters supported could be more aptly described as a “more expensive way.”