News Ticker

Repealing Health Care Reform Will Hurt Our Country

Sen. Barbara Boxer – Democratic U.S. Senator from California
Posted: January 14, 2011 01:49 PM

Before House Republicans vote next week to repeal our historic health care reform legislation, they should think about Leah Eve McCollister.

The five-year-old from Castro Valley, California, was born with a condition called neutropenia, which makes her very vulnerable to serious infections. When she was born, Leah wasn’t covered under her mother’s health plan – and when her family tried to get coverage, insurance companies repeatedly refused to cover Leah because of her preexisting condition. So the McCollisters, like so many families across America, racked up thousands of dollars in emergency room bills.

That all changed when health care reform legislation passed last year. The law bans insurance companies from denying coverage to a child because of a preexisting condition. In September, the McCollisters finally received a letter from an insurance company agreeing to cover Leah.

If Republicans succeed in repealing health care reform, Leah and her family won’t be the only ones to lose.

If the law is repealed, our seniors will lose. Under the law, nearly 450,000 California seniors, and 3.9 million seniors across the country, will get help with their prescription drug costs over the next decade – with an average savings of $9,000 for every senior. Our seniors can’t afford to lose those savings.

If the law is repealed, taxpayers will lose. Just this month, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing health care reform would increase the deficit by $230 billion over the next ten years. And a Harvard economist recently estimated that repealing the health law could “destroy 250,000 to 400,000 jobs annually over the next decade.”

If this law is repealed, our small businesses will lose. Small businesses across the country will receive $40 billion in tax credits under the law over the next decade – and rescinding those credits would jeopardize their ability to cover their employees. In my home state of California, small businesses stand to receive $4.4 billion in tax relief.

If the law is repealed, consumers will lose. The health care reform law prevents insurance companies from dropping coverage when patients get sick. It also stops insurers from refusing to pay emergency room bills for people who go to a hospital outside their network. No one in the middle of a health care emergency should have to worry about calling their insurance company’s claims department rather than 9-1-1.

If the law is repealed, our families will lose. The legislation requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of our premiums on health care – not on their profits. It requires all health plans to cover preventative health care – like mammograms and vaccines – at little or no cost. And it bars insurance companies from denying people care because they have reached an arbitrary “lifetime limit” on health care benefits.

Julie Walters of Novato, California, knows how devastating that would be to her family. She wrote to me recently about her two-year-old daughter, Violet, who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy and could hit her lifetime limit within five years because of expensive medication and hospitalizations.

Julie Walters warned that repealing the law’s protections could endanger her daughter’s life.

“A lifetime limit on insurance is a limit on Violet’s lifetime, and this is immoral,” Walters wrote. “Our entire family, friends, co-workers and a huge network of people that care for and love Violet are depending on our government to do the right thing.”

Preserving health care reform is the right thing to do because it will expand health care coverage to 32 million Americans, including millions of Californians.

Before this legislation passed, 45,000 people a year died – not because doctors didn’t know how to help them, but because they could not get access to health insurance to cover necessary treatments.

We cannot go back to a system that leaves so many of our citizens without access to life-saving care. Health care reform provides hope to families who have been let down by this broken system – hope that our country can do better.

Repealing health care reform would destroy this hope and put too many of our children, our seniors and our families at risk. I am absolutely willing to work across the aisle to make health care reform better, but repealing it would be an enormous mistake for the American people.

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About tenthltr2u (1067 Articles)
A child of the 60's I often feel out of place in the world as it exist today. Too much excess, too much materialism, too few people who genuinely care or give a damn. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

1 Comment on Repealing Health Care Reform Will Hurt Our Country

  1. Tick, tick, tick: The cost of Obamacare is a time bomb

    In fighting against Obamacare repeal this week, Democrats portray their health care law as a money saver, claiming Republicans would add to the deficit by abolishing the legislation. But in their franker moments, the bill’s authors admit that “reform” could be something of a time bomb that will cause exploding health care costs down the line. One top Senate aide plainly stated last summer, “This is a coverage bill, not a cost reduction bill.” The time-bomb nature of Obamacare was presaged by Mitt Romney’s health care bill in Massachusetts, which also expanded health insurance coverage by mandating that all individuals buy insurance, prohibiting insurers from dropping customers, and subsidizing the insurance of those with difficulty affording it.
    In Massachusetts, these subsidies, mandates and regulations quickly caused health insurance and health care costs to spike, compelling the governor and state legislature to impose cost controls on insurers and providers while raising taxes on the state’s residents and businesses.

    David Bowen, former health staff director of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is one of the Obamacare authors to admit the bill could be a time-bomb.

    Three months after the bill passed, and after Bowen had left Capitol Hill, he gave a briefing at the K Street offices of the lobbying firm Sidley Austin — an event the firm billed as a “unique behind the scenes look at the development of this landmark legislation and [an opportunity] to hear an insider’s view about issues that the legislation left unresolved.”

    Bowen compared the federal legislation to the Massachusetts legislation on the score of costs. “In Mass., there was a very conscious decision to do coverage first, knowing that that would bring on a cost battle second,” the former Ted Kennedy aide explained. “We certainly made the same decision. This is a coverage bill, not a cost reduction bill. There is stuff here that will begin to address the issue of cost, but this is not a cost reduction bill with a bit of coverage on it — it is really trying to get coverage first.”

    “Buy now, pay later,” is how Peter Suderman at the free-market Reason magazine describes this strategy, which was deliberate on behalf of lawmakers in both Boston and Washington.

    In March 2009, as Congress was taking up the health care bill and Massachusetts was straining under its rapidly growing health care costs, the New York Times reported that the Massachusetts bill’s authors saw that everything was going according to plan. “Only by deferring the big decisions on cost containment, [Massachusetts health care architects] said in recent interviews, was it possible to build a consensus among doctors, hospitals, insurers, consumers, employers and workers for the requirement that all residents have health insurance.”

    In the June 2010 briefing on K Street, one participant asked Bowen what will happen when Obamacare’s bill comes due. “If the things that are in the bill fail to reduce cost, or they need more oomph,” Bowen said, “then that is the next big phase of health care reform.”

    In Massachusetts that meant tax increases and price controls. In Tennessee, which faced a budget crisis 10 years after its 1994 state-run health insurance program, “the next big phase of health care reform” meant slashing 170,000 people from the rolls, according to Suderman.

    What will “the next big phase” of Obamacare be? When the subsidies and insurance regulations drive a huge increase in demand for health care, how will Congress and the administration handle the rising costs?

    The Obama administration’s early actions hint at one tack: blaming the greedy insurers. The bill gives such broad discretion to the secretary of health and human services that HHS could unilaterally put the squeeze on insurers — for instance, through tightening rules on medical loss ratios, which curb insurers’ profits, executive pay and advertising spending.

    With all the subsidies flowing to hospitals, doctors and drug companies, Washington is also in position to impose price controls on these industries. The new exchanges will control insurance prices, and by extension will influence prices on drugs and care.

    This looming battle over where to trim costs is driving health care companies to hire up as lobbyists the lawmakers and staffers who gave us Obamacare. Already three top Democratic health care staffers have gone to K Street firms, and one has cashed out to a drugmaker.

    Democrats will attack GOP repeal efforts as “irresponsible.” Given the Democratic Senate, “repeal” is mostly political theater, but if you’re looking for irresponsible, the Democrats’ buy-now-pay-later gambit is a prime example.

    Timothy P.Carney, The Examiner’s senior political columnist, can be contacted at His column appears Monday and Thursday, and his stories and blog posts appear on


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