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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The numbers aren't pretty

Erin Kelly

Staff Writer

Before the ink was even dry on the Affordable Care Act, opponents of reform rolled up their sleeves and got to work to repeal dozens of consumer protections that were included in the new law.

Well the numbers on repeal are out. And they show that the cost of repealing the Affordable Care Act is just too great for Americans to bear.

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) sent a letter to Speaker Boehner, informing him that repealing the new law would cost $230 billion over ten years. You’d think that would be enough to make so-called “fiscal conservatives” balk, but they’re continuing to forge ahead.

What’s more, the CBO letter says that if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, millions of Americans could see the quality of their insurance eroded.

But since opponents of reform can’t seem to understand the consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act, U.S. PIRG has released a report that spells out exactly what’s at stake if Americans lose the vital protections they’re guaranteed thanks to health reform.

As the research that the report highlights shows, it isn’t pretty.

For starters, if Republicans are successful in repealing the Affordable Care Act more than 57 MILLION non-elderly Americans who have pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage in the individual market. The recession has underscored just how necessary health reform is as millions of people lost their jobs and their insurance, and then found it difficult to get covered as an individual.

What’s more, 2 million young adults will no longer be able to stay on their parents plan, even if after graduating college, they can’t find a job that offers benefits.

If the state exchanges are repealed, premiums for comparable coverage in the individual market would be 14 to 20% higher than they will be under the Affordable Care Act.

As if you needed more reason to be against repeal, consider this: If the law is fully repealed, small businesses would once again be left in the lurch. This means not only could they not pool together their buying power in exchanges; they would lose their eligibility for tax credits which would cover up to 35% of the cost of their premiums. Employees who work for small businesses would be on their own.

The list goes on.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would bring us back to a time when a child could be denied coverage because he or she was born with asthma. A cancer patient could be told “you’ve reached your limit; we can no longer cover you.” And insurance companies could get away with using premiums dollars as profits rather than spending them on actual health care services.

We’ve made so many strides in making sure that every American has access to health care. Going back to the way things were would not only cost the country a fortune, it would also cost millions of consumers their quality, affordable care.