Affordable Care Act: Job Killer or Life Saver?

House Republicans, Democrats vote on repeal of the Affordable Care Act today

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

A Republican-controlled House votes today on the GOP-proposed "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act." What does that mean for you?

House Republicans, bent on revoking The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- which passed last year and is set to be fully implemented in 2014 -- will vote today on a repeal of the legislation. GOP leaders supporting the repeal claim the act kills jobs, costs too much during a recovering economic crunch and overreaches the federal government's authority to mandate insurance coverage for all Americans. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) even referred to the Act as a "bureaucratic nightmare."

Democrats who helped usher the Act into law contend the legislation protects patients and keeps corporate insurance providers in check.

According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, as many as 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, high blood pressure, asthma and heart disease, will again face discrimination from insurers if the Act is repealed. The Act has already made it illegal for insurers to deny coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. The same provision for adults is set to become effective when the law is fully operational in 2014.

President Obama said he is eager to work with the Congress on the Act, but added "we can't go backward."

The House votes later in the week to order committee chairmen to devise plans for an alternative GOP replacement healthcare overhaul package.

House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said "feelings are strong on both sides" but expects the debate to ensue civilly -- a far cry from the heated rhetoric exchanged last year amid outbursts of "You lie!" and "Hell, no!"

Some Republicans, taking House speaker John Bohner's lead, have even swapped "job-killing" in the repeal act's title for a less caustic "job-destroying" in light of the recent Arizona shooting tragedy.

The GOP-controlled House is expected to pass the repeal, but it is not likely to advance to the Senate, which is still under Democrats' control.

A number of provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect this month. Some of these measures include the following:

  • Most Medicare Part D beneficiaries are provided a 50‑percent discount on all brand-name drugs purchased in the coverage gap.
  • Insurance companies must provide consumer rebates if they spend less that 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care or quality improvements.
  • Annual wellness visits for Medicare beneficiaries are now covered.
  • Young adult dependents can stay on their parents' plan until the age of 26 if employer-based insurance is not available to them.

These laws would be nullified if Republicans succeed in repealing the Act.

Proponents of the Act, including the influential AARP, have issued their own rallying cries to garner support.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released an analysis this week outlining the effects of a repeal on Americans with pre-existing conditions. The report claims that anywhere from 50 to 129 million Americans (19 percent to 50 percent of the population) under age 65 have some type of pre-existing condition, and 48 percent to 86 percent of older Americans between the ages 55 and 64 have a pre-existing condition.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could deny coverage, charge higher premiums and/or limit benefits based on these conditions, which include common diseases like arthritis as well as dozens of less prevalent diseases and disorders. According to the analysis, 36 percent of Americans have encountered such obstacles while trying to purchase health insurance directly from companies.

Meanwhile, the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a temporary high-risk pool program, has been implemented to serve those locked out of the insurance market until -- and if -- the Affordable Care Act becomes operational in 2014.

Review Date: 
January 19, 2011