Once their heads stopped spinning over the Supreme Court's unexpected 5-4 vote to uphold Obamacare as constitutional, Mitt Romney and the Republicans in Congress swiftly announced their plans to repeal it.
You would think that the Supreme Court's ruling - led by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee - might end the debate about health care and allow Congress to focus on creating jobs. But it won't because GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as soon as possible so they can cross this off their to-do list of political theatrics.
The Republicans want to get rid of the ACA as part of their assault on the health and financial security of seniors and hard-working families. While President Obama wants to rebuild the middle class, Mitt Romney's first priority is to increase the wealth of big corporations and the super-rich even if that shrinks our middle class and widens the income gap between the 1% and the rest of us. That's one reason the GOP, led by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, has been running a non-stop campaign to end Medicare as we know it and dismantle Medicaid, which takes care of children, people with disabilities and seniors in nursing homes. Blowing up Medicare and Medicaid will help them pay for things like their proposed tax break for millionaires, which would save them an average of $150,000 a year.
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security helped create the American middle class. They are the foundation of economic security and equal opportunity in America. Obamacare now bridges the gaps in the protections those programs provide. Plotting to kill it is an essential action plan for the GOP and the millionaires, billionaires and corporations that pledged to spend more than $1 billion to help the Republicans defeat President Obama.
Romney's signal accomplishment as Massachusetts governor was to pass a plan almost identical to Obamacare. In effect, the opponents of Obamacare dragged Romneycare to the Supreme Court, and the result is now being called "Roberts-Care" in honor of Chief Justice Roberts.
The GOP has no interest in the fact that Obamacare is already making a difference in the lives of 100 million Americans and stopping insurance companies from ripping us off and denying our care. Republicans don't care that it will expand coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people, hit the brakes on skyrocketing health costs, improve the quality of care and eliminate the worst insurance company abuses.
Within hours of the court's decision, one of the main corporate front groups, the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity, announced $9 million in TV ads in swing states to--you guessed it--attack Obamacare. These ads will be full of falsehoods, the stock-in-trade of all of the extremist front groups, think tanks and political action groups that support Republicans.
What would the Romney-Republican repeal plan mean for average Americans? Here are some examples of what Romney and the Republicans would do to the benefits provided by Obamacare:
• Get rid of new protections against insurance company abuses. Beginning in 2014, the ACA makes it illegal for insurers to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. This will stop 129 million people with chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma from being over-charged or denied coverage.
• Revive the odious practice of allowing insurers to reject applications for coverage from children with pre-existing conditions. Soon after it was enacted, the ACA required insurance companies to cover children with pre-existing conditions. The insurers fought this before and after the law passed. If the Republicans repeal Obamacare the insurance companies will get their way and these children will lose their coverage.
• Block the first round of consumer rebates, which are payable by Aug. 1. Under Obamacare nearly 13 million people will receive $1.1 billion in consumer rebates because their insurance companies spent too little on health care and too much on administration, profits and bloated CEO salaries. If you're slated to get a rebate from your insurance company this summer because they overcharged you, the Republicans want you to give it back to their friends, the fat-cat insurance executives.
• End prescription drug savings for seniors in the donut hole. In just the first two years of the ACA, 5.3 million seniors in the "donut hole" have saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs. That's about $600 each. The Republicans want to halt that and force elderly Americans to give that money back to overpaid drug company executives.
• Kick young adults off their parents' health plans. About 6.6 million people between 19 and 26 years old are now on their parents' insurance plans. This is a big deal. The Republicans want to take that away and dump them into a marketplace that doesn't sell them affordable, quality coverage.
• Make it more expensive to get preventive care. Preventive health services are now provided without co-pays in all new private insurance plans and through Medicare. More than 86 million Americans are already benefiting. The Republicans want to stop this to save money for their pals at the health insurance companies.
• Shut down small-business tax credits. Last year, 360,000 small employers used the small-business tax credit created by Obamacare to provide health insurance for 2 million workers. The GOP wants to make sure small-business owners are on their own again.
This is an impressive list, but it's only the beginning of what Romney and the Republicans have in store for us if they win in 2012. Stopping that from happening is up to us. The Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is constitutional, but the November election will decide if it's here to stay.