Stark: GOP Is ‘Dangerous To America’s Health’

By Steven Tavares

In a report released today by Rep. Pete Stark ominously titled, “Dangerous to America’s Health: The Republican Plan to Dismantle Health Care,” the East Bay congressman lays out a game plan to fight House conservatives who say their top priority is to repeal health care reform passed earlier this year.

The 14-page report contains 24 bullet points to counteract likely arguments made by the incoming Republican majority in Congress. Among the possible consequence of repeal health care reform, include increasing the number of Americans without insurance along with making it more difficult and costly to afford care.

  • Reinstate discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions: One of the first sections of the health care law came into effect last September when health insurance providers were banned from excluding coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. Once insurance “exchanges” are formed, the practice will be discontinued for all Americans. According to Stark, repeal will allow insurers to continue the arbitrary money-saving practice.
  • Repeal free preventive care: Stark says free mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations and pre-natal care will be subject to deductibles charged by insurers. “Republicans would repeal this reform and allow Medicare and insurance companies to charge patients for preventive screenings–reducing the likelihood that patients will benefit from these life-saving measures,” Stark said.
  • Increase the number of uninsured Americans by 29 million: The somewhat unformed plan put forth by Rep. John Boehner would actually increase the number of uninsured to 52 million by 2020, says Stark, while the current law provides cheaper insurance through tax breaks and exchanges to 95 percent of Americans.
  • Force women and older individuals to pay more for insurance: Stark claims women pay 48 percent more for the same coverages as men and also include 11.4 million uninsured Americans between the ages of 45 and 64 who are not yet covered by Medicare. “Republicans would eliminate these consumer protections, guaranteeing the right for insurers to continue to discriminate and charge older people and women sky-high premiums for the same coverage as others,” said Stark.

While most observers believe the repeal of the landmark health care bill is an extreme long shot, it is likely to be a highly-potent political football for Republicans hoping to unseat the president in 2012. Stark has more to lose in this fight than other Democrats. He was one of the authors of the bill in the House and chairs the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health. (Read the entire report here.)