White House Accuses Republicans of Trying to ‘Strip’ Health Coverage

With major pieces of the law coming online, the administration is touting the law’s benefits in a bid to boost its popularity.

US Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, speaks to reporters infront of the West Wing following a meeting of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus with US President Barack Obama on immigration at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Dec. 19, 2013, 11:07 a.m.

Re­peal­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act is an “old polit­ic­al battle” that will “strip people of new cov­er­age,” White House of­fi­cials and con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats said on a press call Thursday.

“We’re hop­ing that Re­pub­lic­ans will come to their senses and real­ize how valu­able the Af­ford­able Care Act is to the Amer­ic­an people, not be­cause the Demo­crats say so but be­cause the Amer­ic­an people be­lieve it,” said Rep. Joa­quin Castro, D-Texas.

Among the be­ne­fits touted by the ad­min­is­tra­tion are the 129 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans with preex­ist­ing con­di­tions — in­clud­ing 17 mil­lion chil­dren — who have ac­cess to health in­sur­ance; the 71 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans on private in­sur­ance who have be­nefited from at least one free pre­vent­ive ser­vice; and the 3 mil­lion young adults who were al­lowed to stay on their par­ents’ health plans un­til age 26.

Also on the call was Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., a pro­ponent of men­tal-health re­form and the lead­er be­hind the Af­ford­able Care Act’s men­tal-health par­ity pro­vi­sion, which provides 60 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans ac­cess to men­tal-health and sub­stance-use-dis­order ser­vices covered by in­sur­ance com­pan­ies at the same rate as oth­er health care ser­vices.

“I’ve heard about people who had cov­er­age and they thought it was OK, but then they got sick and got dropped”¦. [There were] many con­cerns from seni­ors about high pre­scrip­tion drug costs”¦.This is all chan­ging,” Stabenow said.

The White House’s ef­forts to drum up at­ten­tion about the be­ne­fits of the Af­ford­able Care Act fol­low a re­newed ef­fort by Re­pub­lic­ans to stop the pres­id­ent’s sig­na­ture law. Sen. John Mc­Cain of Ari­zona on Wed­nes­day in­tro­duced a Sen­ate com­pan­ion bill to the House’s Obama­care re­peal-and-re­place pro­pos­al from Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.

Mc­Cain said the law has been a dis­ap­point­ment for Amer­ic­ans who liked their cov­er­age and wanted to keep it. But, the White House re­spon­ded, re­peal would “re­move or elim­in­ate” be­ne­fits some Amer­ic­ans are already re­ceiv­ing from the law.

“I do ad­mit there are prob­lems, but I say we have to roll up our sleeves to­geth­er as Amer­ic­ans and fix them,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.

Cov­er­age un­der the law be­gins as early as Jan. 1 for con­sumers who sign up by Dec. 23. The re­peal-and-re­place pro­pos­al could come up as early as Jan. 6, when the Sen­ate re­turns from the hol­i­day re­cess.

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