Next week, the Republicans in Congress are expected to debate and vote on repealing the recently passed health care bill. To justify this push, these conservatives claim that Americans want the law to be repealed and that they think it goes too far in expanding the government and would prefer a free market approach to health care, despite recent polling that shows that most Americans either support the law or want it to be more progressive.
Yet at a town hall held earlier this week at Ohio’s Walsh University, GOP Rep. Jim Renacci (OH) found a crowd that was less than friendly to his proposal to repeal the new health care law. At one point during the event, constituent Dan Fonte challenged the congressman about the hasty push to repeal the bill. “There are a lot of things that took effect [as a result of the new law] that help seniors. What happens to all that?” asked Fonte. “And what are you going to replace it with? Why don’t you make a replacement plan so we can look at it before you repeal it?” The crowd reacted to Fonte’s question with great applause.
After Fonte listed off many of the benefits of the new health law, Renacci conceded that while “there are some good things” in it, “there’s also a half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare.” Fonte quickly pointed out that these cuts were to the private insurance-administered Medicare Advantage, and asked, “Why should insurers get more?!” Renacci ignored the question and relayed an anecdote about businesses supposedly laying off workers thanks to the new law, and Fonte told him he’s “ready” to visit the businesses and see if the anecdote was true:
FONTE: You’ve said you want to repeal the health care law and replace it. There’s a lot of things that took effect that help seniors. Once you repeal it, what happens to all that? And what are you going to replace it? Why don’t you make a replacement plan before you repeal it so we can look at it? [crowd applauses] […] There’s preventing screening in there that took place. There’s people between 45 and 64 that lost their jobs. Now you want to replace it, that’s fine, repeal it, but what are you going to replace it with we don’t know what’s going to happen. What do we tell the seniors out there, that there’s already stuff taking place, and it’s gone now? Let’s think about this before we jump and do whatever we wanna do.
RENACCI: Remember, it was the American people sent us down there, 87 new Representatives, and I agree there are some good things, but there’s also a half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare that are going to go in place real soon —
FONTE: And that’s through Medicare Advantage, which takes more out of traditional Medicare, than anything. That’s what you have to tell us. Why should insurance companies get more?! Now I’ll tell you something, I was involved in health care, and since 1993 health care has went up every year double digits, and it’s never come down. What’s going to make it come down? And tell me one job that’s been taken away from it, this new health care law.
RENACCI: I’ll take you around any time you want to go, to three businesses —
FONTE: I’m ready.
RENACCI: — that have lost seven or eight jobs because their health care went up 63 percent.
FONTE: It’s went up every year!
RENACCI: Yeah but now, and I’ve been a business man for 28 years, when it goes up 7, 8, 10 percent —
FONTE: That’s not acceptable either.
RENACCI: — that’s a problem.
Fonte is absolutely right to point out that the cuts in Medicare were made to Medicare Advantage, a program that costs taxpayers more than traditional Medicare because it is administered through inefficient for-profit insurance companies.
Additionally, while Renacci may be relaying anecdotes about job loss as a result of the new law, a Center for American Progress analysis finds that repealing the bill would cost between 250,000-400,000 jobs annually.
And most importantly of all, repealing the bill would cost the lives of 32,000 Americans — who would die simply because they could not afford to get decent health care — every single year. Given these facts, Fonte is absolutely right to press his congressman about the dangers of repealing the bill.
Pete writes, “Someone should give Mr. Fonte a Sunday talk show. He does a far better job of grilling people than any of the existing talking heads.”