Democrats blast Republicans for undermining healthcare reform

Democrats blasted Republicans in a report Thursday for trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act by spreading misinformation and discouraging constituents from learning about their benefits under the law.

The 14-page memorandum lists the following 10 ways the GOP has acted to undermine healthcare reform:

  • Casting 40 votes to repeal the law;
  • Refusing to expand Medicaid coverage in more than 20 states;
  • Refusing to establish state-based health insurance marketplaces;
  • Undermining enrollment in health insurance marketplaces via a multimillion-dollar campaign to "dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage";
  • Refusing to provide funding requested by the Obama administration to implement the law;
  • Attacking efforts to educate the public about the ACA;
  • Intimidating potential participants in public education efforts about the law;
  • Insisting the ACA be defunded as a condition of preventing a government shutdown;
  • Threatening to deny basic, ACA-related constituent service requests from citizens who request help with understanding or signing up for health insurance benefits under the law; and
  • Misinforming citizens about the impact of healthcare reform on insurance premiums.

"These efforts may provide a short-term political gain for the Republican Party, but they come at a heavy price," says the Committee on Energy and Commerce Democratic Staff in the report. "The Republicans' actions are denying health coverage for millions of the poorest residents living in Republican-controlled states. They are raising costs for hospitals, health providers, and taxpayers in Republican states. And they are working to dissuade individuals who need health coverage from signing up for coverage."

Republicans, meanwhile, at a Thursday House of Representatives committee hearing questioned Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner about the raise in health insurance premiums and the Obama administration's preparation for and handling of the law's implementation, according to a MedPageToday article.

"What assurances do we have that exchanges will be ready to enroll individuals in just 60 days?" Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said in his opening statement, MedPage Today reported. "My constituents want to know what to expect over the next couple of months."

For months the GOP and insurers have claimed the ACA changes to the insurance market will cause premiums to rise and consumers will face "rate shock" when the law takes effect, allegations that a new study says is overstated.

But Tavenner said CMS is on track and the exchanges will be operational when open enrollment begins on Oct. 1, according to the article.

Tavenner also countered claims that employers are cutting American workers' hours so they can avoid offering health insurance to their employees when the law takes effect Jan. 1, according to Reuters. She told the House committee she found only "anecdotal evidence" of employers reducing work hours or benefits.

The law requires employers with at least 50 full-time workers to provide health coverage and Reuters reports some employers have reduced their staff's weekly hours to avoid providing benefits.

For more:
- read the Committee on Energy and Commerce Democratic Staff report (.pdf)
- here's the MedPage Today article
- check out the Reuter's article