The House of Representatives again voted to repeal the Accountable Care Act (ACA) last Wednesday, marking the 33rd time Republicans have tried. All 32 previous attempts died in the Senate, as this one will. But the GOP’s “Repeal Theatre” comes with a sick price tag: about $48 million and counting, according to a report by CBS News.
CBS reported last Wednesday that Republicans’ many futile, utterly symbolic attempts at repealing the ACA have eaten up at least 80 hours of time on the House floor since 2010, amounting to two full work weeks. As the House, according to the Congressional Research Service, costs taxpayers $24 million a week to operate, those two weeks amounted to a total cost of approximately $48 million. I just threw up in my mouth a little.
And while all this drama and silliness is going on and a pile of taxpayer dough gets flushed, have the Republicans gotten it together enough to propose an alternative? The promise when the new House majority took over in 2011 was “Repeal and Replace.” We’ve now seen 33 acts of repeal at a cost of almost $50 million, and not a word of dialogue on replace. Know why? There isn’t one. The ACA was it.
Remember, this law’s policy framework — the individual mandate, subsidies, and exchanges — was developed at the conservative Heritage Foundation, advanced by a conservative (Speaker Newt Gingrich, mid-90s), implemented by a conservative (MA Governor Mitt Romney), upheld by a conservative (Chief Justice John Roberts), and now denounced by conservatives. Most of what the GOP had in the “health reform toolbox” ended up in the ACA. All that’s left is the same warmed-over stuff we’ve heard for years that still don’t have the votes: selling insurance across state lines, tort reform, Medicaid block grants. They got nothin’. And 50 million uninsured Americans and the providers who would care for them need better than “Repeal Theatre”.