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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Repealing health reform has financial consequences.

Tara Bostock

Staff Writer

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was created in 1974 by the passage of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. Its purpose is to provide the Congress with “objective, nonpartisan, and timely analysis to aid in economic and budgetary decisions.” I just want this to be clear. The CBO has been doing its job as a part of the law-making process for over 45 years, so ignoring their analysis seems a little ridiculous right?

Last Thursday, the CBO sent a letter to the newly elected Speaker of the House John Boehner explaining that H.R. 2—the resolution set out by House Republicans that aims to repeal the Affordable Care Act—will actually increase the deficit.

According to the CBO, repealing the Affordable Care Act would have many negative effects. It would increase the federal deficit by $230 billion over the next 10 years, and by about $1 trillion more in the decade thereafter It would take away the promise of coverage for 32 million nonelderly people who would otherwise be insured by 2019. Further, repeal would mean that plans offered by companies in the individual market would cover fewer costs and offer fewer benefits. While this could mean lower premiums for some people, potential reductions in premiums would be derived from a reduction in quality. Moreover, repealing the Affordable Care Act would allow insurance companies to continue discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. As a result, anyone with a health condition is likely to be charged more for premiums if health reform is repealed (if they can get coverage at all).

Last Friday, despite these findings by the CBO, Speaker Boehner and Republicans in the House moved forward in their effort to repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They plan to vote on the final bill next Wednesday—and they will be breaking their own new rules to do it. Speaker Boehner introduced a rule that the House can’t pass legislation that increases the deficit, but conveniently, they are denying the accuracy of the CBO analysis of H.R. 2 in order to lift their rule so that they can try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Speaker Boehner said in his inaugural speech “… this is the people's House. This is their Congress. It's about them, not us. What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs.” But already he is ignoring the analysis from the nonpartisan CBO, not allowing anyone to offer amendments to H.R. 2 (or even letting it go through a committee process), and trying to pass a bill that raises the deficit and effectively denies coverage to 32 million people.

So we’d like to know: How is this honest and accountable? This process doesn’t seem to be about “the people,” it seems to be about Republicans doing all that they can—bending their own rules, going back on their even most recent promises, ignoring nonpartisan analysis, and denying the health care needs of millions—to score political points.