This nation’s leaders continue to struggle with the very difficult health care problem. The House-approved AHCA is the most recent attempt but, as written, it will make care unaffordable and inaccessible to millions of Americans, particularly to those beyond age 50. Fortunately, Maine’s two senators both agree that major changes in the House version are necessary.

Among the many health care organizations that oppose the act, AARP, in particular, has pointed out important concerns. The bill repeals a 0.9 percent payroll tax on higher income workers which would remove more than $100 billion over 10 years from the hospital insurance trust fund, hastening the insolvency of Medicare. It also removes $25 billion in payments from pharmaceutical companies from the Part B trust fund, which would increase Medicare premiums. In 2016, Medicare covered 296,011 Mainers of all ages (19 percent are younger people with disabilities).

Further, the act allows insurance companies to charge older people five times or more than others pay for the same coverage, while reducing tax credits now available to lower and middle income people to help pay premium costs. Thus a 55-year-old Mainer earning $25,000 annually could see a premium increase as high as $7,602; and A 64-year-old with the same income could get an increase of $12,701.

Thus, I strongly urge Maine’s U.S. senators and representatives to support a more inclusive health care revision that is not a disguised tax cut for the wealthy, but truly provides affordable coverage for all Americans.

Having a healthy population is a foundation for this nation’s security and success.

William Phillips, MD, Auburn

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