Friday, March 22, 2013

What a Way to Celebrate a Birthday

Today marks an important anniversary. Yes, believe it or not, the Affordable Care Act (or ACA, or Obamacare) turns 3 today! And 3 years after its historic passage, here's how it's affecting people.

While the main coverage expansion provisions will go into effect in 2014, the ACA has so far saved seniors over $6 billion on prescription drugs, reduced administrative overhead, deterred private insurers from requesting double digit premium increases, kept millions of young people on their parents’ health care plans, and provided 34.1 million people with Medicare preventive services without additional cost-sharing.

Now keep that in mind when reading this.

Senate Republicans knew [Senator Ted] Cruz's [R-Texas] amendment was pointless, and knew it wouldn't pass, but literally every GOP senator voted for it anyway -- just because.

At this point, some of you may be wondering, "Exactly how many Obamacare repeal votes are we up to now?" By one estimate, the new total is 39 times. [...]

[...] Republicans vote, over and over again, to repeal a health care law they know won't be repealed. They do so, in part because they have a radicalized base that expects near-constant pandering, in part because some of their leaders have broader ambitions and see these tactics as useful, and in part because these votes just seem to help Republicans feel better about themselves.

We can debate the relative merits of these motivations, but can we also keep this in mind the next time we hear whining about the White House not being "serious" enough about constructive policymaking?

Since the US Senate is now debating its own budget plan, it's undergoing a "vote-a-rama" that consists of a marathon of votes on amendments. And of course, one of those amendments was Ted Cruz's bill to repeal the ACA. Because, of course, nothing says "fiscal responsibility" like repealing the ACA, expanding the federal budget deficit, and taking health care away from millions of people all at once! (/snark)

Supposed "No Labels" "moderate" Dean Heller (R-Office Space) was part of the united G-O-TEA front for yet another attempt to destroy Obamacare. Remember that this is what happens if Heller and his G-O-TEA colleagues get their wish.

1) Millions without coverage. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the GOP’s repeal measure from 2011 found that “32 million fewer nonelderly people would have health insurance in 2019, leaving a total of about 54 million nonelderly people uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, compared with a projected share of 94 percent under current law (and 83 percent currently).”

2) Health insurance costs increase. The same analysis concluded that “many people would end up paying more for health insurance— because under current law, the majority of enrollees purchasing coverage in that market would receive subsidies via the insurance exchanges, and [repeal] would eliminate those subsidies.” What’s more, “Premiums for employment-based coverage obtained through large employers would be slightly higher.”

3) Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose access to coverage. Republicans have said that they would not replace the Affordable Care Act’s federal rules prohibiting insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. Instead, they would encourage states to form expensive high-risk pools to cover the sick or, alternatively, leave them to find their own coverage in the individual market —where many will likely go uninsured.

4) Medicare in disarray. Approximately 100 million Medicare claims are processed each month using a formula that was altered by the Affordable Care Act. Should the law be repealed, new rates could not be calculated under the old, pre-ACA formula until after a rulemaking process that can take months before is completed. The result would be that Medicare would not be able to pay doctors for what could be many months.

5) Deficits increase by billions. The CBO predicts that “as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues is likely to be an increase in the vicinity of $230 billion.” Repeal would also “increase federal deficits in the decade after 2019 by an amount that is in a broad range around one-half percent of GDP.”

So what's "fiscally responsible" about that? And for that matter, what's "moderate" or "post-partisan" about that? Remember this next time Dean Heller tries his "No Labels" "moderate" sweet talk.

He can keep his "No Labels" "moderate" sweet talk to himself. I'll keep my Obamacare, thank you very much.

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