A new poll shows health care is the most important political issue this year, and a majority of Americans want to keep the Affordable Care Act (ACA), yet Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) voted to upend the popular law and replace it with a bill that would have imposed significantly higher costs on constituents, including an “age tax” on residents aged 50-64.
In a new Reuters poll, health care tops the list of issues most important to voters, surpassing other issues such as the economy and terrorism.
“Sixty-five percent of Americans said in the poll that they are ‘very concerned’ about the overall cost of health insurance, including premiums, deductibles and copays,” reports Reuters.
This concern transcends political parties, with a majority of Democrats and Republicans worried about the issue.
As for a solution, Reuters reports, “58 percent of Americans think Congress should keep the Affordable Care Act either entirely as it is, or with some fixes, while 24 percent think lawmakers should repeal it once an alternative law is passed and 18 percent want the ACA to be repealed immediately.”
Rohrabacher has voted dozens of times to repeal the ACA, and more recently voted for the Republican alternative, the American Health Care Act, last year. According to the AARP, that bill contained an “age tax” provision allowing 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 the ACA, insurance companies are restricted to charging three times as much.
“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, estimating some people could expect to pay up to $8,400 more per year because of this provision.
In addition to an “age tax,” the bill backed by Rohrabacher removed protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
According to Politifact, this provision also has the potential to cost people thousands of dollars in higher health care costs, saying, “Insurers would be able to charge people significantly more if they had a pre-existing condition like heart disease, cancer, diabetes or arthritis — possibly requiring people to pay thousands of dollars extra every year to remain insured.”
Further, the Rohrabacher-backed bill would increase costs for pregnant women and individuals seeking help to overcome addiction, a potentially devastating consequence in light of the nationwide opioid epidemic. “In particular, out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year,” says the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, as reported by NPR.
The Senate ultimately stopped Rohrabacher’s preferred health care increases from becoming law. But Rohrabacher’s vote shows he is out of touch with what Americans want in terms of health care policy.