CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Today, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are scheduled to vote to revoke medical insurance for 32 million "working poor" Americans -- and the GOP is proclaiming deceptive reasons for the action.
Conservatives say they must defeat the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act because it increases federal deficits. But this claim is false. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that last year's reform actually will lower deficits by $145 billion over a seven-year period, and cut them much more in future decades.
Republicans named today's proposal "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act" -- but that label is ludicrous. Experts say the 2010 reform won't kill jobs. In fact, it lowered premiums for large employers, which should increase jobs.
Researcher Micah Weinberg of the New America Foundation said the claim that the 2010 reform kills jobs "has no justification." A study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that the 2010 law "would not be a burden on small business owners" -- but this phrase was deleted from a GOP report.
What a charade. Phony reasons are being advanced to justify stripping medical coverage from 32 million Americans who aren't poor enough to receive Medicaid, but lack good-paying careers that include employer-provided insurance.
The 2010 reform also includes other benefits, such as: (1) forcing commercial insurers to spend a large percentage of premium money on actual medical costs, (2) allowing sons and daughters to remain covered by their parents' policies until age 27, and (3) forbidding commercial insurers from dumping patients who have pre-existing conditions.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that 800,000 West Virginians under age 65 have pre-existing conditions that could enable insurers to revoke their coverage -- if the Republican repeal were to pass. Nationwide, 129 million Americans are in that vulnerable group.
Researcher Stephanie Cutter wrote that the U.S. economy generated more than 1 million new jobs since President Obama signed the health reform last March, but revoking it would cripple job-creation and cost families an average of $2,000 each yearly in higher insurance premiums. She said:
"Repealing the Affordable Care Act would have a devastating impact on our economy. In addition to hurting some of the economic progress that has been made over the past 10 months, the Congressional Budget Office found that repealing the law would add over a quarter of a trillion dollars -- $230 billion -- to the deficit in the first decade, and more than $1 trillion in the second decade; increase the number of uninsured by 32 million Americans; increase premiums for large employers; and force consumers who buy coverage on the individual market to pay more out of pocket for fewer benefits."
As we've said many times, it's shameful that America is the only advanced democracy that doesn't provide universal health coverage for all citizens, as a human right. Why can't America do what other nations do? The 2010 reform was a humane improvement.
Today's Republican vote is a charade in another respect: The repeal has no chance of getting through the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate and White House. So all the pompous posturing and tea party talk is mere theatrics.
U.S. history presents a clear pattern: Conservatives oppose every human rights advance -- from voting by women, to birth control freedom, to Social Security, to black equality, to Medicare, to decriminalizing homosexuality -- but progressives eventually win those rights. Today's vote is another skirmish in the long struggle to help people.