White House officials blast effort to repeal health-care reform

As House Republicans planned to pass a bill tomorrow that would repeal last year’s Affordable Care Act for health care and health insurance, officials of a freshly business-friendly Obama administration said today that repeal makes “bad business sense.”

Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills and Rebecca Blank, acting deputy secretary of commerce, hosted a conference call with journalists today to discuss the effects of repealing the act. The newly Republican House is expected to vote in favor of repeal, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it will be “dead on arrival” in the Democratic-majority Senate.
Republicans have repeatedly called the health care reform “job-killing,” an assertion that the nonpartisan accountability service FactCheck.org has judged to be inaccurate. Administration officials argued likewise today, in the call with Kentucky Health News and other news outlets.
“The Affordable Care Act really supports our nation’s entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial spirit,” Mills said. Repealing the law would take away tax credits — a 35 percent deduction for business owners that pay 50 percent of their employees’ coverage. In 2013, that credit jumps to 50 percent. Repeal would also “stifle innovation” by creating “job lock,” Mills said, which happens when people stay in a job they no longer want for fear of losing their health insurance.
The act provides coverage for dependent children until they turn 26 and does not allow discrimination against enrollees who have pre-existing conditions. Mills said more than 100 million people have pre-existing conditions nationwide.
Repeal would also “add $1 trillion to the federal deficit,” Mills said. Republicans dispute that.
Since 2009, Mills said the number of small businesses that are offering health insurance coverage to their employees has increased — by 9 percent in businesses with less than 200 employees and 13 percent in businesses with less than 10 employees.
Mills stressed there is “no mandate, no requirement” penalizing small business owners with less than 50 workers who don’t offer health insurance.
Blank spoke of the “simply unsustainable” rising costs of health care before the act took effect, saying in 1960 less than 1 percent of the payroll was spent on health care. By the mid-2000s, that number had jumped to 10 percent. “That’s a runaway cost train that had absolutely no mechanism to put on the brakes,” she said.
Blank added widening insurance coverage is “designed to move toward a system in which doctors and insurers are rewarded for the quality of care, rather than just the quantity.” The act, Blank said, will “rein in costs,” “improve American global competition” and “spur job growth.”
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