The Endless Loop: Amodei, Heck vote to repeal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — Again

Here comes the Endless Sound Loop!  The votes are recorded on H.R. 6079 the latest bill in the House of Representatives to call for the repeal, defunding, diminution, or restriction of the Affordable Care Act.   [roll call 460]  Nevada’s own Joe Heck (R-NV3) weighed in. [video here] Representative Mark “Me Too” Amodei (R-NV2) voted for the symbolic and stage managed repeal.

Poor Representative Heck (R-NV3) still thinks there was a Cornhusker Kickback included?  He must have missed the memo when it was removed before passage.   His objections? The Affordable Care Act has “failed to deliver on all its promises.”   Really, many of the sections of the bill have not even been implemented to date.  Somewhere in the midst of the  word salad, Representative Heck tries to focus on how the Affordable Care Act hurts Medicare.

Let’s reviewThe Affordable Care Act Does Not Hurt Medicare.

#1.The life of the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended as a result of reducing waste, fraud and abuse, and slowing cost growth in Medicare, which will provide you with future cost savings on your premiums and coinsurance.”  [FactSheet]

If you want a bill that would imperil the Medicare Trust Fund, try the Republican provision in their budget to cut $160 million from discretionary funds for fraud prevention and enforcement.  [TCF 2011]

And here I was thinking that the Republicans were all for the reduction of waste, fraud, and abuse of public funds….

#2.  We don’t want to forget that House Republicans have an ax in this budget fight.

“This vote came after a parade of Republicans went to the House floor today bashing Barack Obama, the Democrats, and the health law for cutting $500 billion from Medicare — one of their central attacks on Dems for two straight cycles now — despite supporting those very same cuts in their own budget, the Paul Ryan plan.”  [WaPo]

#3.  What’s this about “discriminating against Medicare Advantage policy holders?    Let’s be clear — the federal government has been giving health insurance corporations a tax payer subsidy for offering Medicare Advantage insurance to senior citizens.  Oil companies, insurance corporations, it seems the House GOP has never met a corporate subsidy it doesn’t like.   And the Republicans kept giving the insurance corporations more:

“Republicans in Congress began boosting their payments, to the point that Medicare Advantage gets paid 114 percent what Medicare gets paid to care for a patient.”

And it’s important to remember that those free perks do not account for the whole of Medicare Advantage’s overpayments. Rather, economists have estimated that for every extra dollar we pay the program, 14 percent is passed on to seniors and 86 percent goes to profits or other costs. In other words, we’re getting only 14 cents of obvious value for every dollar of overpayment. [WaPo] (emphasis added)

It’s not “discrimination” (one of the GOP buzz words du jour) to try to reduce program costs by reducing tax payer subsidies for highly profitable private insurance plans.  If someone wants a Cadillac Medicare Advantage Plan, fine, they should buy it — just not expect the taxpayers to pay the insurance company to offer it.   And here I was thinking that the Republicans were all for saving the taxpayers money….

Let’s Review: The tax on medical equipment is not the Biggest Tax of All Time on Everybody.  Here’s the analysis from the medical device manufacturing folks as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was being finalized:

“Under the compromise, the medical device industry fee in the PPACA was repealed and replaced with a different version of the provision known as an “excise tax.” In this new provision, the magnitude of the medical device tax was lowered from 2.9% to 2.3% annually, and was delayed two years, until 2013. […]

But this change created a deficit in the overall bill that Congressional leaders were not willing to accept unless additional offsets were found. In exchange for these changes, the tax was extended to a larger base, namely Class I medical devices, with little discussion or opportunity for public comment or scrutiny. The vast majority of orthotics and prosthetics, as well as durable medical equipment, are Class I medical devices. [NAAOP]

The House GOP appears to be trying to have it both ways — first, demand that revenue be found to pay for additional coverage for more Americans, and then loudly bemoan one of the ways offered to achieve the “payfor.”

Somewhere Rep. Heck got the idea that 1,000 jobs will be lost in Nevada because of the medical device excise — no source for this information was provided in the Congressman’s remarks.

Here’s What They Voted To Repeal

1. Allowing parents to keep their children on their health insurance plans until the kids are 25.

6.6 million young adults, including 3.1 million who were previously uninsured, would lose the option of staying on their parents’ health plans if the health care law were repealed.” [HHS]

2. A law preventing health insurance corporations from dropping policy holder’s coverage if the person become ill or injured.

Without the Affordable Care Act, the insurance industry could return to retroactively canceling coverage for a sick patient based on an unintentional mistake in their paperwork, putting at risk the 15 million people purchasing coverage in the individual market.”  [HHS]

3. A law preventing health insurance corporations from discriminating against women just because they are women.  Being female is no longer a “pre-existing condition.”

4. A law preventing health insurance corporations from spending any more than 20% of premium dollars collected from policy holders for CEO compensation, administrative costs, and other overhead. Premiums collected must be spent for medical and health care.

5. A law providing increased and affordable access to preventive medical services — pap smears, prostate cancer screening, breast cancer screening, vaccinations for children.

“Approximately 54 million Americans who gained private coverage for recommended preventive services without cost sharing would lose this benefit with the repeal of the health care law.” [HHS]

The repeal of Affordable Care Act would force 32.5 million people on Medicare to pay more for preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies.” [HHS]

6. A law  providing affordable pre-natal and child wellness visits with a family physician.

7. A law providing cost relief for senior citizens who purchase prescription medications, and one which closes the infamous ‘donut hole’ by 2020.

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act would end the 50% discount on brand name prescription drugs for seniors and people with disabilities who hit the donut hole.  This discount saved 5.3 million seniors more than $3.7 billion through May 2012.” [HHS]

8.  A law preventing the insurance companies from discriminating against people who have pre-existing medical conditions.  Some 67,000 Americans could become uninsurable.

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan has provided insurance to Americans who have been locked out of the insurance marketplace because of a pre-existing condition – and its more than 67,000 enrollees would likely return to being uninsured with the repeal of the law. [HHS]

There’s more here.  And, more commentary from NV Progressive here.

For most members of the tax paying public — at least those who are deficit hawks as opposed to deficit chicken hawks — here’ s the bottom line:

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit by $100 billion over ten years.  It would also shorten the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years.

Representatives Heck and Amodei marched along with the GOP/TeaParty contingent, armed with slogans, buzz words, and slippery syllogisms, and voted to increase the federal deficit and shorten the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.  Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) had the good sense to vote “no.”

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