Since Congress passed its health care legislation expanding health insurance to tens of millions of Americans earlier this year, leading conservatives have debated about the best way to oppose it. Some have advocated for simply repealing the entire bill wholesale, while others have argued for a “repeal and replace” strategy that would replace the legislation with a yet-to-be-determined conservative plan for health care.
Scott Tipton, the Republican candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, is advocating for a third option: rather than repealing the legislation or replacing it with something else, he wants to “choke off funding” for the legislation, effectively stifling its effectiveness without doing anything to improve the U.S. health care system:
The Republican candidate for the 3rd Congressional District called for reductions in the size of the federal government and said he would vote to “choke off funding” for health-care legislation passed by the current Congress. Scott Tipton spoke to about 110 people, most of them supporters, Thursday night in a town-hall meeting in the Grand Junction City Council chambers. [...]
Health-care legislation will cost $2.2 trillion over the next 10 years, Tipton said, and the only way to bring those costs under control is to cut them in the House, which controls the nation’s purse strings.
Tipton’s desire to “defund” health reform has previously been floated by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Newt Gingrich.
Purely on the facts, Tipton is wrong to imply that cutting off funding for the recently passed health care bill would rein in the deficit. The bill already serves to cut the deficit, and repealing certain provisions or denying them the funds to be utilized would only end up costing the country more in the long run.
Putting deficit concerns aside, a far greater cost to denying funding for the legislation would be borne by the 3rd District Coloradans that Tipton is running to represent. As of estimates made in 2009, a quarter of the people in the district lacked any sort of health care coverage whatsoever. Hospitals in the district who have to care for these uninsured residents without compensation have calculated that they’ve paid “$94 million in annual uncompensated care costs in recent years.” When a surgery center in the district offered free care to residents one day late last year, people were so desperate to be able to be one of the few the center was able to take care of that some of them slept in its parking lot (less than half were actually offered care).
Thanks to Congress’s recently passed bill, an additional 106,000 district residents will be able to get insured and hospitals will be able to reduce the funds they spend on uninsured residents by $84 million annually. That is, if the legislation is fully funded. If Tipton gets his way, more than a hundred thousand people in his district will be unable to get health insurance, and hospitals will continue to expend countless tens of millions of dollars on caring for the uninsured.