11/24/2010 01:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman Dares GOP To Vote For Health Care Repeal: 'Go Ahead, Make My Day'

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) is calling the Republicans' bluff on health care: Stand up and repeal the most popular provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care or be exposed as hypocrites.

Ackerman has announced that he will be introducing six bills in next week's lame duck session of Congress, all titled the Health Insurance Protects America -- Can't Repeal IT Act (HIPA-CRIT -- get it?). The legislation would overturn six of the most important consumer protections of the health care law, such as not denying coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions, prohibiting annual and lifetime caps and requiring that insurers offer coverage for dependents up to age 26 on family plans.

Ackerman, of course, is a strong supporter of health care reform, and the move is intended to get Republicans to follow through on their fear-mongering.

"I think they've been very deceptive with the American people," he said in an interview with The Huffington Post on Wednesday. "I think all of the bravado they've provided is a lot of hokum pokum. I believe that in their hearts, they absolutely know these are good things for the American people, and the president, the administration and Democrats should get credit, unless they've perpetrated a big lie about this. And therefore, why not put them to the test about if what they've advocated about repealing it is really truthful? If indeed they'd like to repeal it and they have the votes, then we can repeal the whole rest of it."

If Republicans do vote on repealing all of the Affordable Care Act, it will, of course, get rid of both the popular and unpopular provisions. The HIPA-CRIT Act would also essentially kill health care reform by cutting out the main provisions, but it would force Republicans to specifically register their votes on the popular pieces, instead of covering them up in a larger repeal vote -- the main reason why it's unlikely to go anywhere.

Ackerman said that he's heard from several of his Democratic colleagues who like the idea of calling out Republicans on the issue, but he hasn't yet heard from any GOP lawmakers in response to his letter asking them to co-sponsor the HIPA-CRIT Act. He said he presented the idea to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during the first day back for reorganization at the Democratic caucus, and she said she would consider it.

"I talk with my constituents as we all have, and more importantly, I listen to them," said Ackerman. "They don't want Democrats just going up there with their drawers dropping. They want us to say something and do something and fight back and hit back. And this is a way of actually doing this in a simple, clean, but sophisticated way, to show the American people and show the Republicans for what they are."

House and Senate Republicans have also called for the repeal of financial reform legislation, and Ackerman said that the HIPA-CRIT Act could serve as a model going forward to call the GOP's bluff on similar issues.

"Let's deal with regulatory reform next," he told The Huffington Post. "Let's unshackle the world of greed, the regulations, so they can run roughshod over the American people yet again. Let's tackle that next. We can do this one thing at a time. They want to tie Social Security to the free capital markets, then let's actually have a bill that puts Social Security on the roulette table, and people can gamble if they want and see what happens if they do that, if they're really going to vote for it."

Some progressives and Democrats, including Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and the labor union AFSCME, are also going after Republicans' stance on health care, saying lawmakers should drop their government-sponsored health care on the grounds that keeping the plans would be hypocritical.

Below is the full letter Ackerman has circulated amongst Members of Congress:


Go ahead, make my day. Become a cosponsor.

Dear Colleague:

There's been a lot of tough talk recently about repealing the health-care insurance reform law. Now, it's time to put up, or sit down. So, you want to repeal the health care law? Here's six shots at it:

* The First Health Insurance Protects America--Can't Repeal IT (HIPA-CRIT) Act repeals the prohibition of unreasonable rescissions.

* The Second Health Insurance Protects America--Can't Repeal IT (HIPA-CRIT) Act repeals the prohibition of establishing annual limits for a health-insurance policy.

* The Third Health Insurance Protects America--Can't Repeal IT (HIPA-CRIT) Act repeals the prohibition of establishing lifetime limits for a health-insurance policy.

* The Fourth Health Insurance Protects America--Can't Repeal IT (HIPA-CRIT) Act repeals the prohibition of preexisting condition exclusions for adults.

* The Fifth Health Insurance Protects America--Can't Repeal IT (HIPA-CRIT) Act repeals the prohibition of preexisting condition exclusions for children.

* The Sixth Health Insurance Protects America--Can't Repeal IT (HIPA-CRIT) Act repeals the requirement for dependent coverage until age 26.

The Affordable Care Act contains these and many other foolish protections for our constituents. So, join other Members of Congress who want to deprive their constituents of these silly safeguards from the big insurance companies. You can cast your courageous vote on a series of SIX bills to do it. Feel free to call it the HIPA-CRIT Act when you explain your vote.

Fulfill your promise.

To cosponsor all or one of these bills, or if you have any questions, please contact me.


Gary L. Ackerman