Sarbanes Highlights the Terrible Costs of Republican Efforts to Undermine Americans’ Health Care

During a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing today, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) highlighted the serious and harmful consequences of a Republican lawsuit, backed by the Trump Administration, to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

If Republicans succeed in the courts, the consequences would be devastating for Americans across the country, including more than 21 million people who could lose their health insurance.

“I don’t know why my Republican colleagues think that it’s a strong position to argue for taking this fundamental coverage away from millions of Americans,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “We can debate what we do from here, but the great majority of Americans want to hold onto the coverage that they’ve been given.”

Sarbanes continued: “And by the way, there’s no evidence whatsoever that there’s any kind of cogent, coherent, meaningful replacement plan for the ACA. Notwithstanding all the attempts, 69 and counting, on the part of the Republicans here in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

In addition putting millions of Americans’ health insurance at risk, the Republican effort to strike down the ACA would reverberate across the nation’s health care system, harming individuals and communities in nearly every corner of the country.

  • 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions could be disqualified from their health insurance and forced to pay much higher premiums.
  • 60 million Medicare beneficiaries might face higher premiums and increased out-of-pocket costs.
  • 2 million young adults, who have health insurance through their parents’ plans, could lose their coverage.
  • Millions of Americans would have to pay more money for substance abuse and addiction treatment – in the midst of an opioid epidemic that kills nearly 200 Americans every single day.

In a dialogue with Professor Abbe Gluck, Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale University Law School, Congressman Sarbanes listed the essential benefits and protections that Americans would lose if the courts strike down the ACA.

Congressman Sarbanes: “Professor Gluck, in your testimony, you discuss the essential patient protections and health programs that would disappear if the ACA were to be struck down. Does this include guaranteed issue on pre-existing condition protection?”

Professor Gluck: “Yes, it does.”

Congressman Sarbanes: “What about the community rating protection that prohibits insurers from charging older adults significantly more than they charge younger enrollees? Would that go away?”

Professor Gluck: “Yes, it would.”

Congressman Sarbanes: “What about premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments that make coverage more affordable for middle-income families?”

Professor Gluck: “That would also be gone.”

Congressman Sarbanes: “What about the ACA’s Medicaid expansion?”

Professor Gluck: “Gone.”

Congressman Sarbanes: “What about the Prevention and Public Health Fund? What would happen to funding for essential public health programs, like those that support safe drinking water, children immunizations and smoking cessation?”

Professor Gluck: “All those funds would be eliminated.”

Congressman Sarbanes: “Now let me come back to a point I was emphasizing earlier. Has the Trump administration, or Congressional Republicans, put forward any meaningful replacement plan for the ACA that would provide the same coverage gains and consumer protections that we just went through over the last few seconds?”

Professor Gluck: “No, nothing has come even close.”

Congressman Sarbanes: “Why are pre-existing condition protections – on their own, without the ACA’s other provisions – not a sufficient replacement plan? Because we keep, I mean Republicans – I give them some credit – they’ve figured out that nobody in America wants to lose the coverage now available for pre-existing conditions, so they keep invoking that and saying, ‘Well we’ll hold onto that,’ even as we’re jettisoning all the rest of the Affordable Care Act. But can you explain why it’s important to have other provisions in place in order for that to be an effective protection?”

Professor Gluck: “You’re absolutely right, Congressman. It’s not enough just to have insurance. You have to be able to afford the insurance, and the insurance has to cover the things for which you are sick.”