Earlier this month, the US House voted for a record 40th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Democrats are now simply responding to the repeated wastes of time with zippy one-liners mocking Republicans' obsession with repealing a law that's been approved by Congress, the Supreme Court, and the majority of American voters when they voted for President Obama over that other guy last November. (Our own Rep. Lloyd Doggett delivered this zinger about Republicans' missing alternative to the ACA: “They have one alternative to Obamacare. It's called NothingCare.”) The Obamacare repeal votes have happened so many times that they seem to have become a running joke in the House. But this time, I think the Republicans must be in on the joke–the 40th repeal bill was creatively called the “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013.” The name is so silly that it sounds better suited to The Onion than a bill from the United States Congress. I doubt I could have come up with a better caricature of the Tea Party if I tried.
As usual, all 24 Texas Republican congressmen voted for the bill. This means they're part of the joke, but it also means we should remind ourselves that each Obamacare repeal vote has serious costs. Instead of spending time working on bills that could actually help Texans, our Republican congressmen are choosing to waste time introducing new versions of a bill that has already failed 40 times. A report from CBS news found that each Obamacare repeal vote costs taxpayers $1.45 million. So all 40 Obamacare repeal votes have cost American taxpayers a grand total of $54 million. Texas's supposedly fiscally conservative congressmen are the epitome of hypocrisy–they claim to support fiscal restraint but eagerly support spending lots of time and money on a bill that will achieve absolutely nothing.
But Obamacare repeal votes reveal an even more insidious way Republicans want to take away your money–read about it after the jump.Prior to Obamacare, insurance companies essentially had free reign over how they spent consumer premiums. That meant they could take the money you paid to them for your medical care and instead spend as much of it as they wanted on administrative costs and CEO paychecks. Without oversight on the medical loss ratio (the ratio of money spent on medical care to company administration), insurance companies' CEO's salaries skyrocketed. In 2011, the CEOs of the seven largest health insurance companies earned a combined total of $87 million. The CEO of Cigna's $19.1 million salary was a whopping 94 times what an average primary care physician makes in a year.
That's why one of the ACA's new rules is that health insurance companies are now required to spend at least 80% of premiums on medical care. It's based on the novel idea that when a customer pays an insurance company a premium for medical care, their money shouldn't be spent on giving a CEO a bonus check. But apparently the fact that sick people's money was going to line the pockets of CEOs isn't that important to the Republicans who keep trying to repeal Obamacare. When Texas Republican congressmen vote to repeal the ACA, they're authorizing the use of your hard-earned money to pay the salaries of CEOs. Evidently keeping a healthcare system with the highest costs and lowest outcomes in the developed world is preferable to keeping costs down by regulating how much CEOs get paid.
So, if the fact that Republicans who oppose Obamacare are voting against coverage for poor people, young people, minorities, and women hasn't been enough to make you mad, maybe this will be. Each time there's another Obamacare repeal vote, your GOP representatives are letting you know that to them, your health care just isn't as important as that CEO's bonus check.