37th Time’s the Charm?
Tomorrow, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will once again vote to repeal Obamacare. If this sounds familiar it is because it is the 37th time — yes, that’s 3-7 — that House Republicans have tried to repeal Obamacare.
This obsession has not come for free, either in terms of time nor money. One estimate pegs the cost to taxpayers of these 37 repeal attempts at some $55 MILLION. What could we do with that same $55 MILLION? Here’s four ideas:
1. Restore cuts from sequestration to Title X family planning programs and Title V maternal and child health services. The National Women’s Law Center calculates that a 5 percent cut to the budgets of each program will reduce them by $15 million and $32.5 million, respectively. Rather than voting to repeal a bill that expands women’s access to preventative services, the House could use the money to expand them.
2. Double the Department of Justice’s budget for sexual assault services, which has currently been authorized a $50 million budget. The program gives money to states so that they can support rape crisis centers and other nongovernmental organizations that provide direct intervention, core services, and other assistance to the victims of sexual assault. Current funding is inadequate, as some states receive less than $300,000 and many programs lack the resources to meet victims’ needs.
3. Grant a request for $50 million to train 5,000 new mental health professionals as part of a new initiative to expand mental health treatment and prevention services. This proposal came in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting to address gaps in the mental health system.
4. Help states implement paid leave policies. President Obama included a $50 million State Paid Leave Fund in his 2011 budget to provide start-up support for states that want to enact paid leave for workers. More than 40 percent of workers don’t have access to paid sick leave, heading to work when they or their family members experience an illness, but this funding could help give them a better option.
In terms of time, this calculation from the New York Times shows why this is one of the most unproductive Congresses in history:
That means that since 2011, Republicans have spent no less than 15 percent of their time on the House floor on repeal in some way.
The real cost, of course, comes in terms of the more than 100 MILLION Americans who would be harmed by the GOP’s obsession with taking away their health care benefits, including:
- 129 MILLION Americans with pre-existing conditions who will once again be at the mercy of the insurance companies.
- 105 MILLION Americans would see lifetime limits on what their insurance company has to cover, which Obamacare banned, put back in place.
- 71 MILLION Americans, including 34 MILLION seniors, who are currently eligible for no-cost preventive care, including mammograms and birth control.
- 18 MILLION middle-class Americans who will receive a tax credit averaging $4,000 a year starting next year.
- 17 MILLION children with pre-existing conditions who today, as we speak, cannot be denied coverage.
- 13 MILLION consumers who received more than $1 BILLION in rebates last year because of an Obamacare rule requiring insurers to spend 80 percent of premiums on actual medical care would no longer be eligible for such rebates because insurers would no longer be held to such a standard.
- 6 MILLION young adults who are currently able to stay on their parents’ insurance — 3.1 MILLION of whom were previously uninsured.
- 6 MILLION seniors who are receiving discounts — more than $6 BILLION worth so far — on their prescription drugs thanks to Obamacare.
In addition, repealing Obamacare would increase the deficit by more than $100 BILLION over the next ten years and eliminate new resources to fight fraud. These fraud fighting efforts have recouped $4.2 BILLION just this past fiscal year from those seeking to defraud seniors and taxpayers.
BOTTOM LINE: The GOP’s obsession with taking away health care benefits from more than 100 MILLION Americans is a waste of time, a waste of money, and harmful to the tens of millions of Americans already benefiting from Obamacare.