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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What the repeal proposal would do

Ron Pollack

Executive Director

Just last week, new and helpful health reform provisions kicked in, benefiting millions of American families across the country. Recent college graduates can now stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26. Moms now have the freedom to choose their own OBGYNs without prior approval from their insurance plan. And insurance companies can no longer arbitrarily take away your coverage if you get sick.

As people across the country celebrate these new consumer protections, opponents of reform have taken to the stage to announce their grand plan: Making sure these and other helpful provisions that kick in later are repealed.

Even though recent Census Bureau numbers showed that the number of uninsured Americans rose to 50.7 million in 2009, they are still pushing their plan to repeal. To give you a bit of perspective, the number of uninsured is larger than the populations of Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia combined!

We can’t afford to go back to the same politics of “NO” that shaped our broken health care system for years. And that’s just what the Republican repeal plan would do.

Their repeal proposal now changes the game from obstruction to destruction. It would harm people from all age groups and would take a big bite out of families’ pocketbooks.

Here’s how:

  • New tax breaks would be taken away from middle class families and they would continue to have trouble finding affordable coverage;
  • Small business owners and their workers, who struggle to find affordable coverage, would also lose a much-needed tax credit;
  • Seniors would lose the ability to obtain free preventive care, and they would be forced to pay huge out-of-pocket costs if they needed multiple prescriptions;
  • Children would be left in the cold, as insurance companies could continue to deny them coverage if they have a pre-existing condition;
  • Young adults would no longer be allowed to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26;
  • Insurance companies could continue the harmful practice of denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions; and
  • Insurance companies could continue to discriminate against women by charging higher premiums simply because of their gender.

And that’s just the beginning. New consumer protections—like the right to appeal denied claims, and the right to have most premiums dollars spent on health care rather than insurance company overhead and profits—would be taken away.

After all that we’ve gained, the Republican repeal plan wants to set back our progress and return to an era where a kid with asthma is denied coverage, or a recent graduate has to go without care because his employer doesn’t offer coverage.

Americans will once again be at the mercy of insurance companies, who have gotten away with unfair practices for far too long.

It’s time for the opposition to re-think their repeal proposal.