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‘Repeal of Obamacare Act’ Would Add $109 Billion to Federal Deficit

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(SOURCE: Flickr/Talk Radio News Service)

A report released by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concludes that H.R. 6079 – otherwise known as the "Repeal of Obamacare Act" – would cost an estimated $109 billion over ten years, adding to the federal deficit and rolling back reform efforts aimed at expanding access and improving quality in the American health system.

Provided at the request of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the report underscores the extent to which the negation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirely would be fiscally – as well as morally – irresponsible and shortsighted, while also serving as a reminder that the GOP may not only be on the wrong side of history when it comes to national health reform, but that it is also wrong on the numbers.

H.R. 6079 was introduced on July 9 by the Republican leadership in the House and passed two days later.  The latest attempt in a long string of efforts to repeal the ACA, the bill remains stalled in the Senate, where it has little (approximately zero) chance of going forward.     

In focusing solely on the budgetary effects of new legislation, the CBO report does not take into account the considerable human costs that would be associated with repealing the ACA and its host of new protections for consumers and patients.  Nevertheless, the report does serve as a reminder of the fiscal dimension underlying the larger health care debate.

Before the ACA was passed, the health system in the United States had gained a reputation for its dysfunctional inefficiencies and high costs – despite failing to cover large swaths of the population – when compared with other advanced industrial nations.   In addition to expanding coverage to millions of Americans and enhancing protections for countless others, the ACA is an earnest if working attempt to place health care on a sustainable financial foundation for the future by broadening coverage and bringing down costs in a number of important areas.  The bill is paid for, and GOP claims of fiscal imprudence continue to ring hollow. 

Indeed, the latest CBO report outlining the fiscal consequences of H.R. 6079 echoes earlier accounts by the budget office positing a net increase in federal deficits should the House Republican leadership succeed in their goal of discarding Obamacare with what amounts to a legislative sledgehammer.  The ACA as it currently stands is projected to have a net surplus on the federal budget once the law has been fully implemented, paid for through a series of calculated taxes and penalties and cost-saving reforms to Medicare and Medicaid.  The costs of the uninsured would also be brought down on both a fiscal and ethical level through expanded coverage.      

As for the law itself: perhaps unsurprisingly, the text of the bill reads like overt political fetter, and is chalk full of unsubstantiated claims regarding the impact of the ACA on jobs and the economy.  H.R. 6079 should be seen in the context of the overall political strategy employed by the Republican majority in the House since it regained a plurality, a strategy aimed at discrediting the President and his legislative agenda from day one.  Though the bill will likely never see the light of day beyond where it already stands, it would be interesting if a GOP response to the CBO report were to be offered. In the meantime, however, it is best to appreciate H.R. 6079 for what it really is: a cheap political ploy meant to do little more than satisfy the base, regardless of the math involved.   

 

Justin Decker is a reporter for Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @DeckerJustin.

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