January 19, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On House Republicans’ Vote To Repeal Healthcare Reform
WASHINGTON—When Congress passed healthcare reform just 10 months ago, helping Americans trumped politics by giving 32 million more Americans access to affordable coverage and curbing insurance industry abuses, including the refusal to cover those with pre-existing conditions. Now it is the reverse, as today’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the law puts politics over common sense and undermines the great progress already under way. Thanks to the Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate and President Obama’s vigorous support for the reforms he signed last year, the repeal effort has no chance of becoming law.
The new House leadership and those who followed their lead in voting for the repeal are sending a disturbing message to America: Scoring political points is more important than giving 32 million people access to health coverage. If the repeal were to take effect, we’d be back to square one:
• Health insurance policies would cost more and offer fewer benefits.
• The federal deficit would increase by $230 billion over the next decade, according to
the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
• Drug savings for seniors would be canceled, and young people would no longer be
able to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.
• The clock would be turned back to a system with minimal protection for patient rights
in which children with pre-existing conditions can be shut out by insurance
Just yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that half of all Americans under age 65 have pre-existing conditions. Without the protections from discrimination enacted in the healthcare reform law, 129 million Americans could be denied coverage or charged more because of pre-existing conditions ranging from high blood pressure to arthritis or even cancer.
The healthcare reform bill was a huge step forward in this country—and every huge step has its compromises and controversial provisions. As it is fully implemented over the next few years, it will require careful analysis and, possibly, changes. But the Republican repeal bill is a terrible injustice to hard-working American families and, thankfully, will not move any farther in the 112th Congress.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.