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Last year, I was extremely disheartened by members of Congress who voted in favor of the American Health Care Act. The bill, I thought, was incredibly unfair, especially for North Dakota’s older residents. After the vote passed, the AARP criticized the bill as an “age tax” that would make it harder for old people to obtain and afford health care coverage — you can't get less American than that.

Before 2010, insurance companies could charge much higher rates to individuals based on age, gender or pre-existing condition. While the ACA was far from perfect, it leveled the playing field. Meanwhile, the Republican AHCA bill would have tipped the scales back in favor of insurance companies by treating older and sicker customers like cash cows.

Simply put, the Republican health care bill is a tax on the elderly. The bill would have allowed insurance companies to charge older Americans up to five times more than what younger people pay, increasing the cost of premiums by thousands of dollars. On top of that, the new law would have allowed insurance companies to hike up the price of premiums for patients with pre-existing conditions — ailments like arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure that affect roughly half of retirement-age Americans. This bill was a lot of things for older Americans, but it sure wasn’t affordable.

Andrea Olson, West Fargo

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