This morning, the crew at Morning Joe mocked Rep. Fred Upton’s (R-MI) — the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — commitment to hold a vote to repeal of the Affordable Care Act before President Obama delivers his State of the Union address. Upton made the comments yesterday, just one day after some of the law’s most popular consumer protections went into effect. “We have 242 Republicans,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “If we pass this bill with a sizeable vote, and I think that we will, it will put enormous pressure on the Senate to do perhaps the same thing,” he added. “But then, after that, we’re going to go after this bill piece by piece.” Morning Joe played a clip of Upton’s remarks, before describing repeal as a “meaningless legislative exercise”:
BRZEZINSKI: Is it a waste of time?
SCARBOROUGH: You know, to quote Sheryl Crow, ‘if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad’….it’s going to take them 15 minutes, they’re going to vote to repeal it and it’s not going to do anything.
BRZEZINSKI: Good for them…you’re big men!
SCARBOROUGH: You’re so tough! [...] But seriously, it is a meaningless legislative exercise, but the base will like it.
BRZEZINSKI: No, actually people are sick of this stuff going on. Useless time spent in Washington, when we should be moving forward.
And while the repeal vote may please some portions of the GOP base, the vote would actually have serious implications for Americans who are already benefiting from the law. The GOP’s repeal push comes just as insurers will have to start spending 80 to 85% of premium dollars on health benefits, seniors are saving money on brand-name prescription drug coverage, small businesses are taking advantage of the tax credits, and the sickest Americans are enrolling in temporary insurance coverage (even as enrollment numbers for that program have not met expectations). Repeal would effectively reverse all of these gains: insurers would continue to take in profits with impunity, seniors who fall into the so-called Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole will have to pay out of pocket for their medications, small businesses will stop offering coverage in increasing numbers and Americans with chronic conditions would continue to go uninsured. State governments would also have to send back the billions of federal grant dollars they’re now using to implement reform and forfeit the additional Medicaid funding provided in the law.
And these are just the short-term implications. Over the long haul, repeal would dramatically swell the ranks of the uninsured, blow up the national deficit and increase national health are spending. As Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) put it, “In their first month, House Republicans will break one of their first promises. They will pass legislation that significantly increases the deficit. And they will ignore the impact on the deficit.” Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office found that repealing the entire health care bill would add $143 billion deficit and it would also reverse the course of health care spending. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) estimates that under the law, Medicare spending will decline $86.4 billion from previous projections due to reforms — meaning that it will increase if reform is repealed.
POLITICO is reporting that “House Republicans will vote next Wednesday, Jan. 12, to repeal the new health care law.”