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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Health care opponents are at it again

Ron Pollack

Executive Director

It’s become clear that opponents of health reform will stop at nothing as they try to repeal the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to score political points. Before the mid-term election dust had even settled, new members of Congress were making the rounds, speaking loudly—and often—about repealing the legislation.

Opponents predictably claimed that the mid-term elections were a referendum on health reform, but as polls have shown, that simply isn’t true. The vast majority of Americans do not want to see the law repealed. And a significant number want to see the law strengthened.

But that hasn’t stopped some familiar faces from making promises that they will repeal the law. And they’re out in full force.

Attorneys General in almost two dozen states have sued the federal government over the law. Members of Congress have gone on record saying they intend to use their new power as the majority party in the House of Representatives to deny funding for effective, orderly implementation of the new law. And when the Republicans take control of the House in January, they have said that they will try to pass bills intended to repeal the entire law.

Unfortunately, if they succeed, Americans have a lot to lose.

If opponents of reform do succeed in repealing or even just paring back the Affordable Care Act, Americans with pre-existing conditions could continue to be denied insurance. Insurers could get away with charging women more for premiums simply because of their gender. Seniors will continue to pay a great deal out of pocket for expensive prescriptions when they’ve reached the drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.” And that’s just the beginning.

For years, our broken health care system has left many people without access to affordable coverage. The Affordable Care Act offers solutions to make sure lower-income Americans don’t fall through the cracks, gives young adults the option to stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26, and offers tax credits to those who don’t make enough to buy health insurance through the individual market. These are real solutions that will make a big difference in Americans’ lives every day.

But that doesn’t seem to matter much to opponents of reform. They care more about trying to score political points with their base than they do about solving the problems that have plagued our health care system for years. Case in point, these “no-nothings” (opponents who say “no” to everything, but offer nothing as an alternative solution) have stated loud and clear that their main goal is to beat President Obama in 2012. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell made this explicitly clear in his speech to the Heritage Foundation.

These “no-nothings” have no constructive counter proposals, which means that if they are successful in repealing the Affordable Care Act, we’ll be left with a flawed system that has harmed working families and small businesses for years.

Political points may do something for politicians inside the beltway, but they don’t do anything to solve the problems of real Americans around the country.

November 2 was a wake-up call for advocates who have worked to change the way our health care system works. We need to fight harder than ever to ensure that all of the new protections we’ve gained don’t go out the window. We need to defeat these challenges to this historic law.