Yesterday, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee released a draft spending bill for FY 2012 that could derail the the Affordable Care Act by cutting off funding until the courts rule on the law’s constitutionality. Overall, the budget reduces funding for reform by at least $8.6 billion and allows insurers to effectively flaunt consumer protections and increase health care costs. A sampling of the cuts:
- Rescinds $1 billion for the Prevention and Public Health Fund
- Rescinds $1.2 billion for Community Health Center expansion
- Rescinds $1.9 billion for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Center
- Prohibits funds for the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight
- Eliminates funding for the already defunct CLASS office
The budget remains deadlocked in committee, where two Republican lawmakers, Reps. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), “have objected to appropriations bills with spending levels higher than those contained in the House-passed budget resolution.” But should this measure — or something like it — eventually make it out of the House, Republicans wouldn’t just be going after the parts of the law they disagree with — the mandate or the employer requirements — they’d be striking directly at the heart of the law’s consumer protections and cost-saving initiatives.
For instance, defunding the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight would prevent HHS from enforcing provisions that prohibit discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions and allow young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ policies, effectively empowering insurers to ignore the law and disregard Patients Bill of Rights. It would also halt the drafting of all new regulations and put an end to the federal government’s efforts to help states review and in certain cases deny unreasonable premium rate increases.
The budget would halt progress on developing and testing new, more efficient ways of reimbursing providers — and realigning incentives so that hospitals and doctors are rewarding for delivering quality care — and cut off funding to prevention efforts that help communities fight chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes that are “responsible for 7 of 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending.” All this, while undercutting community health centers — the primary source of care for many Americans which President Bush not only championed but also greatly expanded.