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House GOP Leaders Call for Putting Insurance Companies Back in Charge of Americans’ Health Care

Nearly all House Republicans, including Republican Leader John Boehner, Whip Eric Cantor, and Conference Chairman Mike Pence, have signed a discharge petition to bring H.R. 4972, Repealing the Affordable Care Act, introduced by Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa to the House Floor.

As of today, 172 House Republicans (97 percent of House Republicans) have signed the discharge petition.  H.R. 4972 is a one-paragraph bill, which does one thing: it repeals all provisions of health insurance reform, including every provision of the Patient’s Bill of Rights.  After decades of insurance company abuses – the new law finally gives American patients key rights and protections.  Under health reform, many of the these new consumer protections become effective for health plan years beginning on September 23.

Enactment of this House Republican plan would take us back to insurance companies – not you and your doctor – being in control of your health care.

Furthermore, polls show that only a minority of Americans support repealing health reform and starting over.  For example, in the latest Kaiser Health Tracking poll, there were only 31% supporting repealing health reform – compared to 56% supporting health reform as is or supporting beginning implementation and making any needed changes along the way.  Similarly, in the latest National Journal/Congressional Connections poll, only 32% supported repealing health reform – compared to 47% supporting health reform as is or beginning implementation and seeing how it works.

The House Republican repeal bill – supported by 172 House Republicans — puts insurance companies, once again, in charge of Americans’ health care.  Under the House Republican repeal plan (H.R. 4972), insurance companies will once again:

Be allowed to drop people when they get sick.

Be allowed to deny coverage for children with pre-existing conditions.

Be allowed to put lifetime limits on coverage, which has caused thousands of insured, middle-class Americans to declare bankruptcy when a catastrophic illness strikes and they exceed the lifetime limit.

Be allowed to put unreasonable annual limits on coverage, cutting off coverage for hundreds of thousands of people when they need it most.

Be allowed to prevent parents from keeping their young adult children on their health plan as the children work to launch their careers.

Be allowed to make key preventive services, such as mammograms and immunizations, subject to deductibles and co-payments.

Be allowed to deny coverage for needed care without providing patients a chance to appeal to an independent third party.

As a Kaiser Health News column pointed out today:

If you take away health reform, all of those [consumer] protections go away – and consumers will be more vulnerable to the whims of faceless insurance company bureaucrats, whose goal may be to maximize profits rather than public health.

And the insurance companies whose power over consumers is enhanced under the Republican repeal plan are the same insurance companies that continue to report record profits and record compensation for their CEOs.  The top 5 for-profit health insurers reported double-digit increases in profits for the first half of 2010 – ranging from increases of 22.8 percent to 57.1 percent.  These insurers also reported CEO pay for 2009 ranging from $6.5 million to $25.7 million.

Democrats in Congress and President Obama enacted landmark health insurance reforms to make health coverage more affordable for small businesses and families, and protect young adults, the middle class, women, and seniors.  Despite the clear benefits of health insurance reform – Republican leaders are standing with insurance companies and want to repeal the Patient’s Bill of Rights which protects Americans from discrimination when they need it most – when they get sick or have a pre-existing condition.

Bottom line: Repealing health insurance reform would eliminate key protections for millions of Americans. We won’t go back to a broken, unsustainable health care system. We can’t afford it.

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