GOP is playing politics with the nation’s welfare

When Speaker John Boehner took the gavel, he promised the American people that this Congress would focus on job growth and the economy. Instead, we have seen a majority that has been consumed with rolling back the clock on healthcare, no matter what that means for the economy, the deficit or the health and well-being of American families.

The primary target of the majority’s assault has been the Affordable Care Act. This law helps Americans of all ages, from young children to college students, to parents and grandparents, at a critical time in our economy. It takes the power from the insurance companies and gives it back to patients and their doctors. It expands access to coverage, ensures people can get the care they need and lowers costs for everybody. In short, the Affordable Care Act gives Americans the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions while creating jobs and reducing the deficit.

And yet, from their very first week, the majority has made gutting this act its No. 1 priority. They set in motion an attempt at repeal, which ultimately failed in the Senate. Undaunted, they now are trying to defund the healthcare law in their budget resolution, even though we know for a fact this will severely hurt job creation and blow up the deficit.

According to the Center for American Progress, defunding healthcare reform would add almost $2,000 a year to family insurance premiums. It would destroy 250,000 to 400,000 jobs a year over the next decade. And according to our own nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it would add $145 billion to the deficit through the end of the decade, and $230 billion by 2021.

In addition, young people could no longer stay on their parents’ plans up to age 26. Children with pre-existing conditions will once again be denied coverage. So too will adults with pre-existing conditions — and that includes myself, as an ovarian cancer survivor. Seniors will have to pay more for their prescription drugs, and many will be stuck in the “donut hole” once more.

Women will no longer receive coverage for maternity care, or pediatric care for their children. And they will be forced once again to pay more for the same plans, just because they are women. Women who have had a C-section, or have been victims of domestic violence, may also be denied coverage once again.

Small businesses all across the country will lose access to the healthcare exchanges, and end up paying higher taxes and more to cover their customers. Families too will lose their affordability credits, and end up paying more for healthcare. 

Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose their jobs. Millions of people of all ages will lose their access to free preventive and wellness coverage. And the national deficit will increase by billions of dollars, all so the majority can make an ideological point to their base.

In fact, extreme ideology undergirds many of the healthcare planks in the majority’s budget resolution. It is why, in a breathtaking and radical step, they are attempting to eliminate Title X funding, which has connected millions of American women to healthcare since 1970. In 2009, Title X providers performed 2.3 million breast exams, 2.2 million Pap tests, and administered nearly a million HIV tests to men and women both. And it is why the GOP continues to push their radical proposal, even though Moody’s, Goldman Sachs, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and 300 prominent economists have said their resolution will slow growth and cost America hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Their resolution specifically targets Planned Parenthood, which carries out millions of life-saving preventive and primary care services every year — thus gutting a primary source of care for American women. It also rolls back our investments in community health centers, in food safety, and even in basic medical research, slashing funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. As a result, more than 100 clinical trials would need to be curtailed or halted completely. The costs of ending this life-saving research are incalculable. It would mean a terrible loss not just for America, but for the world —  not just for this generation, but for many more to come.

We should not be putting the health and welfare of families at risk in the name of political gamesmanship. The American people had hoped for better from the 112th Congress, and they deserve it. This radical assault on the Affordable Care Act, and on the public health as a whole, is a mistake. 

DeLauro is  ranking member on the Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.