While Americans clamor for jobs, House Republican Leadership has instead opted to hold its umpteenth vote to deny families and small businesses access to quality, affordable health care. Despite the GOP's relentless opposition, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has already improved the lives of more than 100 million people.
The ACA is raising the quality of care, halting skyrocketing health costs, saving seniors money on prescription drugs, providing preventive care without co-pays, and eliminating the worst insurance company abuses. When fully implemented in the next few years, the law will provide affordable health benefits to 25 million uninsured Americans.
Instead of improving health care, the Republican repeal plan would take it away. Specifically, it would:
- Stop new consumer protections against insurance company abuses. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, the ACA makes it illegal for insurers to discriminate against adults with pre-existing conditions. Without this protection, 129 million people with chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma would be vulnerable to being price-gouged or denied coverage, as they were for so many years before the law.
- Revive the loathsome practice of allowing insurers to deny coverage to 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. Repeal would permit insurance companies to push sick children back into the uninsured population to spruce up their profit reports.
- End prescription drug savings for seniors. In only three years, the ACA has saved 6.3 million seniors $6.1 billion on their prescription drugs. Repeal would force elderly Americans to give that money back to overpaid drug company executives. The ACA also strengthens and protects Medicare and eliminates waste, fraud and abuse.
- Kick young adults off their parents' health plans. About 3.1 million young adults are now covered on their parents' insurance plans because of the ACA. Repeal would dump them into a broken marketplace that doesn't offer 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. These benefits include an expanded list of preventive health services for women, from domestic violence counseling to contraception. More than 71 million Americans have already benefited from the full range of these services. Repeal would restore co-payments and increase out-of-pocket costs for everyone.
- Shut down small-business tax credits. Last year, hundreds of thousands of small employers used the small-business tax credit created by Obamacare to provide health insurance for workers. Repeal would eliminate the tax credit and cause these small businesses to pay more, which would compromise coverage.
- End rebates to consumers by health insurance companies that charge too much. Last year, health insurance companies gave back $1.1 billion to 12.8 million Americans because insurers spent more than 20 cents of each premium dollar on things other than actual health care, such as profits, administration and bloated executive pay.
This week's political stunt in the GOP-led House should be recognized for what it is: economic vandalism in the service of partisan gamesmanship and an extraordinary waste of time when there are important things do.
Never before has the House of Representatives taken so much pride in doing so little. It is time for Congress to put politics aside and address the real needs of the American people.