Republican Budget Threatens Health Coverage and Insurance Protections

This week, Republicans in Congress are considering budget bills that give more power to health insurance companies, raise taxes for middle-class Americans, and threaten health care coverage for children – all by rolling back rolling back important provisions of the Affordable Care Act

Under the new health care law, states have new tools and resources to hold insurance companies accountable. Today, states are using these resources to ensure insurers are spending your premium dollars wisely, reviewing proposed rate increases to see if they are reasonable. In 2014, states will use these resources to continue to ensure that insurance companies play by the rules in new Affordable Insurance Exchanges, where insurers will compete to offer you quality coverage at a fair price. Already, 33 states and the District of Columbia have received Exchange establishment grants, including 15 states with Republican or independent Governors. In contrast, Republican Representatives in Congress want to cut this funding for states, stopping them in their tracks and taking us back to the days where insurance companies, not American families, were in charge of health care. 

Under the new health care law, middle-class families will receive the largest health care tax cut in history through new tax credits to help you afford health insurance offered through Exchanges. In contrast, House Republicans support a proposal that would raise taxes for certain middle-class families whose income changes during the year, for example, by putting in overtime or earning a promotion. By making it harder for families to juggle health care costs, this proposal could cause 350,000 people to lose their health coverage altogether. 

Under the new health care law, states have new resources to maintain coverage for low-income children through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  CHIP is a bipartisan program that offers health coverage to children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford private insurance.  Under the Republican plan, 300,000 kids would lose CHIP coverage according to CBO. 

And that’s not all. The Republican budget would eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is, among other things, helping fund projects in local communities to combat obesity and chronic diseases. And it would repeal new funding for health care programs in the territories, like Puerto Rico. 

As the President has said, the budget should be “built . . . around the idea that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.”  We can’t balance the budget on the backs of middle-class families and children. And we should not refight the fights of the past, and instead move forward to a future where insurance companies play by the rules, and all Americans have access to quality health care at an affordable price.

Jeanne Lambrew is Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy
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