Our guest blogger is Tony Carrk, Policy Director for Progressive Media.
Today, oral arguments begin in the lawsuit that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed challenging a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. If successful, this political strategy would have disastrous policy consequences resulting in higher costs and unaffordable coverage for those who need it most.
Attorney General Cuccinelli is seeking to strike down the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires people to purchase insurance. This core provision — the individual mandate — keeps health care costs down by spreading the risk among the healthy and the sick. If removed, healthier people will wait to purchase insurance when they need it. Insurance companies will still be banned from denying people coverage based on pre-existing conditions, but because the insurance pool will be sicker, costs will skyrocket. This is referred to as the “death spiral” of insurance. In effect, Cuccinelli’s lawsuit makes insurance more expensive for those who need it most and forces some to drop their coverage all together. For this reason, numerous disease and disability advocacy organizations oppose the lawsuit.
Cuccinelli’s lawsuit is one of several Republican efforts at the state and federal level seeking to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Attorneys general and governors in 20 other states, all but one of whom are Republican, filed a separate lawsuit in Florida challenging some of the law’s provisions. Several states have placed ballot measures that will go before voters this fall repealing parts of the law. At the federal level, Rep. Camp introduced a motion to recommit that would have taken steps to repeal a portion of the Affordable Care Act. The motion failed by a vote of 187 to 230. And just yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor renewed Republicans’ efforts to bring repeal bills to the House floor after they appeared to have stalled.
Despite Republican statements to the contrary it is hard not to view these repeal efforts as nothing more than a political ploy which serves to deny people access to affordable health care. For example:
Few lawmakers believe the repeal effort is viable. Within the first two minutes of his recent webcast town hall meeting meant to educate people on the Virginia lawsuit, Ken Cuccinelli asked people to donate to his campaign. Since becoming Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli has been courting the business community, a key constituency “essential to making policy, not to mention political careers.” Some say Cuccinelli is planning to run for governor in 2013. Republicans are putting measure to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act on the ballot as a way to boost conservative turnout in November. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is getting pressured to join the Florida lawsuit. The vice president of government relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation said Christie was “going to have to explain why he has stood out among his colleagues in his own party by not doing something they’ve all done.”
Instead of pursuing a strategy that will increase costs for those who need health coverage the most to score political points, a better strategy would be to help make the law work as best as possible for the American people. Igor Volsky‘s point on this matter is worth repeating: “If the GOP continues to press ahead with repeal, they might slow down the implementation process, but they’ll also run the risk of fading into historical irrelevancy. Who remembers the legislators who led the fight against Social Security or Medicare and better yet, who celebrates them?”