Friday, March 23, 2012

Joe Heck Needs a Reality Check on Health Care

So today, Joe Heck is pulling a ridiculous stunt introducing a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with some weak sauce water-down of what's law now. Heck claims this is "repair", but all it would do is damage the lives of real Americans who are being helped by the ACA. Dawn Josephson and her family are among those real Americans that Joe Heck's bill would harm.

Dawn Josephson could barely believe it when she found health insurance that would actually cover the cost of treating her young son’s eye condition.

Josephson, a freelance editor, wife and mother of two in Jacksonville, Fla., had been spending as much as $1,000 a month of her family’s budget on surgery, doctor visits, tests, and treatments in the seven months since 2-year-old Wesley awoke one morning with his eyes pointed toward each other, a condition called strabismus. That was on top of the $807 in monthly premiums the family spent on an insurance plan that excluded anything related to her son’s eyes.

A few weeks after President Barack Obama signed a sweeping health care reform law in March 2010, Josephson got a call from another insurance company telling her the family had been accepted into a new plan. “What about Wesley’s eye? If he needs another surgery, another test, another something, is it covered?” she asked the customer service representative. She pressed the point again: What’s the catch? “Nothing. Your family’s fully covered,” she was told.

Josephson's change in fortune was the result of the new law's provision that prohibits insurance companies from refusing to cover children with pre-existing medical conditions. The family's new insurer decided to change its rules before the law required it, giving Josephson, her husband Dave, Wesley, and his little sister Margo some relief. A few months later, Josephson got to meet Obama at a health care reform event in Falls Church, Va.

And the Josephsons are not the only Americans who would be harmed by Heck's bill to repeal the ACA.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans like the ones featured above will see expanded access to low-cost and no-cost preventive care, no more limits on lifetime coverage, an end to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, and (of course) more affordable health insurance. Here's what Americans get if the ACA is repealed, even if it's replaced by Heck's bill or some other Republican alternative legislation.

Two years ago today, President Obama affixed his signature to the Affordable Care Act, the first major piece of federal healthcare legislation since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. The bill was the end result of months of careful negotiations in Congress and years of failed attempts by previous administrations to reform an increasingly expensive and outdated healthcare system.

Even before the ink dried, Republicans started calling for the law’s repeal and have so far voted at least 25 times to roll back or defund it. Should they succeed, millions of Americans would become uninsured, seniors would pay more for prescription drug coverage, and the insurance industry would once again be able to deny coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions and impose annual and lifetime limits on coverage.

This is why many Nevadans gathered outside Dean Heller's Senate office yesterday to explain why they don't want the ACA repealed. We're just starting to see progress as more Nevadans are receiving the health care they could not access just two years ago. Why on earth would we want to see that undone?

Perhaps this explains why Joe Heck is now claiming he just wants to "fix" health care reform instead of outright destroying it. However, Heck won't say that his bill largely has that same effect. The "onerous regulations and mandates" he complains about are the very provisions that are working to save Americans' lives. Oh, and by the way, those regulations and mandates that Joe Heck complains about help in cutting the federal budget deficit by $143 billion over the next ten years. If the ACA is repealed, not only are those savings erased, but the deficit actually INCREASES by $230 billion in the next ten years.

This is what Senator Harry Reid explained on the Senate floor yesterday.

And this is what Joe Heck and his BFF, Mitt Romney, don't understand. Perhaps they never have to worry about health care costs, but all the rest of us do. And all the rest of us would very much appreciate expanded access to the health care we need, along with immense savings that actually result in reducing the budget deficit.

As we've discussed before, there's no actual, legitimate policy or legal argument for repealing the Affordable Care Act that Republicans can make, at least if we're to believe they're actually interested in improving health care in this country. So why are they still pulling out this ridiculous "dog & pony show" threatening repeal of the ACA? Simple. They're playing raw politics, and they're hoping they can keep riling up uninformed voters with scary images of "OBAMACARE!!!" What scares the likes of Joe Heck the most is the most recent Pew poll suggesting that as more Americans become more aware of what's actually in "Obamacare", the more they like it.

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