What repealing health care reform would cost

HOUSE SPEAKER John Boehner (R-OH-8th) has promised to bring his bill to repeal health care reform up for a vote this Wednesday, January 12. His proposal is pure theater, of course. Regardless of what happens in the House, a companion bill will never get past the Senate. President Obama will not even need his veto to stop this one.

And that’s a good thing, because repealing this law would

  • increase the federal debt by more than $1 trillion,
  • raise taxes for families and small businesses,
  • put Medicare in jeopardy, and
  • increase medical costs while decreasing wages.

Federal Debt. An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concludes that repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (the Affordable Care Act) would increase the budget deficit by $230 billion over the next eight years and more than $1 trillion the following 10 years. That’s an awfully large cost increase from a political group that claims they want to reduce government spending.

Taxes. The Affordable Care Act provides more than $460 billion in tax cuts to help families and small businesses pay for health care over the next 10 years. Repealing the law takes those tax cuts away, including the $40 billion in tax cuts for small businesses that have already begun to take effect.

Medicare. Without the Affordable Care Act, Medicare will be facing a financial meltdown in 2017. Measures in the health care reform law to reduce payment errors, waste, fraud, and abuse are expected to keep it solvent until 2029, at the least.

Increased costs and depressed wages. The independent chief actuary at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare found the health care law will significantly reduce costs for families and businesses. The CBO, the Independent Joint Committee on Taxation, and other economic experts also agree that lower health care costs will free up resources for employers and result in higher wages for workers.

Because health care reform is set to phase in over several years, the full effects of the law won’t be seen for some time yet. But we know what will happen if we repeal it. The nation will return to the trajectory it has been on for the past 60 years. Without reform, health care spending will double in less than 10 years, becoming 20 percent of the gross domestic product – one dollar in every five we spend.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would also reverse the long list of benefit improvements that have already begun taking effect:

  • Small business health insurance tax credits
  • Expanded coverage for Medicaid
  • Insurance for Americans with pre-existing conditions
  • Online sources of reliable insurance information
  • Extended coverage for young adults
  • Free preventive care
  • Preventing insurers from dropping coverage
  • Eliminating lifetime limits on coverage
  • Regulating annual limits
  • Holding insurance companies accountable for unreasonable rate hikes
  • Rebuilding the primary care workforce
  • Establishing consumer assistance programs
  • Strengthening community health centers
  • Payments for rural health care providers
  • Bringing down health care premiums.

Americans have waited far too long for an equitable health care system that covers nearly everyone and addresses out-of-control costs. The Affordable Care Act goes a long way toward achieving these two goals. Repealing this law would be a tragic mistake.