GOP push for repeal could deny Rep. Giffords coverage


If, understandably, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) decided after her recovery to leave Congress for the less-visible private sector (before she ran for office, she was the third generation to run the family tire business) and decided to start her own venture, repeal would make it virtually impossible for her to obtain health insurance. No carrier would insure someone with the pre-existing condition of a traumatic brain injury. The Patient Protection Act eliminated such discriminatory practices.

If the House was actually run like a small business with 435 employees, its human resources manager would get a rude shock: the premiums it paid for healthcare coverage would skyrocket due to the cost of Giffords' treatment (in reality, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program is community rated, but many private sector plans are not). The business might have to start cost-shifting to its employees to make up the difference, or drop coverage altogether. The tax subsidies offered by the Patient Protection Act makes such unpleasant choices far more palatable to navigate.

The Patient Protection Act isn't perfect, but it will expand coverage to 30 million Americans who currently have no insurance at all, whose physical devastation would be joined with financial ruin should some random madman shoot them in the head. And I could go on and on about how reform would actually assist the House's most gravely wounded member. But why should I?

The GOP's continued press to repeal reform after the Tucson bloodbath and its outrageously named resolution ("Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act") was a Joseph Welch moment, the time for someone in a position of power and respect to ask, "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" But so far no one has.

Such a question is going to be left to the voters in 2012, who hopefully will kill some jobs on their own: those held by the politicians who don't see a hole in their colleague's head as a wound to be healed at all costs, but an unpleasant distraction to be sidestepped as surely as a puddle on the sidewalk. - Ron

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