Unappealing repeal…

The new Republican leadership of the House of Representatives will have a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act next Wednesday, January 12th.

Check out the front page of the Health Access website for a fact sheet on the dramatic impacts that a repeal would have on California–from the individuals who would lose access to coverage and new benefits and assistances, to the resources lost to the California health system and our budget.

Aaron Carroll at the Incidental Economist has a concise but explosive description of how–in one week–opponents of health reform have reversed themselves on every procedural and political issues they raised in 2009 and 2010:

There will be no hearings on the bill. No markups out of committee. No extended period for everyone to read it. No bipartisan meeting to discuss it. There will be no CBO scoring of the bill. It will be – and when you read this, please add lots of sarcasm in your head – “shoved down our throats.”

I’m all for continued debate and further reform. But theater masquerading as serious policy is no longer just silly. It’s doing harm….

UPDATE #2: There will be no amendments allowed. Remember when that kind of thing was a problem?

Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post says this is an opportunity for supporters of the new federal health law to go on offense and make the case to the public about the need for these reforms:

“If we pass this bill with a sizable vote, and I think that we will, it will put enormous pressure on the Senate to do perhaps the same thing,” Rep. Fred Upton, who will be chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “But then, after that, we’re going to go after this bill piece by piece.”

This sounds fine, until you actually look at the pieces. Already in effect are parts of the reform package that no self-interested politician is going to vote to take away. No child can be denied insurance coverage because of a preexisting condition. Coverage can no longer be canceled when the policyholder gets sick. Insurance companies can no longer impose annual or lifetime limits on payments for care. Adult children can remain on their parents’ policies until they turn 26. Policyholders cannot be charged extra for seeking urgent care at an emergency room that is not in the
insurance company’s approved network of providers.

Those measures took effect in September. Another set of provisions became law on Saturday: requirements that insurance companies spend a certain percentage of the premiums they collect on care; a discount on prescription drugs for some seniors covered by Medicare; a rule that gives seniors free screening for cancer and other diseases.

Republican leaders aren’t dumb enough to explicitly propose taking all these benefits away. But Democrats can, and should, force them to have that debate.

So the next week should focus people on exactly what the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is seeking to do, and its impact on families.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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