On Wednesday, the second day of the 115th Congress, House Republicans began the work of repealing and ultimately replacing the Affordable Care Act, much to the consternation of Democrats like Tampa Representative Kathy Castor.
Castor advocated for an amendment to a bill that was being debated that would maintain the consumer friendly provisions of the ACA, such as the cost saving provisions for Medicare prescription drugs, as well as the provision that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
“The Affordable Care Act, which Republicans say they want to repeal without a replacement in sight, provided very important consumer protections for all Americas, not just 20 million Americans who gained health insurance through the marketplace of healthcare.gov, ” Castor said on the House floor.
She said that the repeal of the ACA would impact the approximately 43 million people on Medicare, and the 155 million people who currently receive health care through their employer.
“If Republicans aren’t careful in their zeal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they in essence will be asking our parents and grandparents to pay more. A whole lot more,” she said.
Castor went on to say that the ACA had also been able to reduce the “donut hole” in Medicare coverage. That’s the coverage gap in one’s insurance plan that begins after after one has paid a certain amount for covered drugs.
“My amendment makes the point that Democrats are going to fight for our older neighbors to keep those savings intact, brought to you by the Affordable Care Act,” Castor said.
The Tampa Democrat was attempting to add the motion to a bill sponsored by California Republican Darrell Issa that would repeal in a single vote any rule finalized in the last 60 days of the Obama administration. But the House rejected a motion Castor to send the bill back to committee.
On Thursday, Florida Senator Bill Nelson filed his own amendment under a broader bill under debate that would prevent the Senate from considering any legislation that repeals ACA’s provisions aimed at closing the donut hole in Medicare coverage.
“Closing this gap in coverage, known as the donut hole, has helped seniors in Florida save nearly $1,000 a year,” Nelson said. “Why would you want to get rid of that? We should be looking for ways to lower – not increase – the cost of prescription drugs, especially for our seniors.”