Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) is encouraging the super committee to reduce the national deficit by eliminating access to health care for lower-income families and significantly increasing costs for families earning between $29,000 and $44,000 a year. In a letter to the committee, Rehberg singles out the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the Medicaid program and “the creation of health insurance premium subsidies” as a “the quickest, clearest and most common sense path to meeting the Committee’s goal”:
Congress should not proceed to implement new, incredibly expensive entailment programs at a time when our Country’s credit rating has been downgraded, we are threatened with another downgrade, we are trying to save the entitlement programs already in place, we are going bankrupt, and we continue to receive warnings from every quarter that our current path is unsustainable.
American families know this. To use a simple analogy, they know that if they are deeply in debt and cannot afford to pay the loans on their home and car, they should not buy an expensive vacation home.”
Of course, the problem with Rehberg’s analogy is that the “an expansive vacation home” — the Congressman’s crude description for life-saving health care services — is fully paid for and even reduces the deficit over a 10-year period. The letter cites a series of media reports that try to contradict this analysis, despite the CBO’s continued insistence to the contrary.
But what’s truly shocking about Rehberg’s letter is his belief that increasing access to insurance for the poorest families is tantamount to splurging on an unnecessary luxury item. Since his own health care is subsidized by the government, perhaps he no longer appreciates that health care is actually a basic necessity that too many Americans are dying without.