After more than two dozen attempts, House Republicans cast a largely symbolic vote to repeal the two-year-old Affordable Care Act, the health care legislation which was recently upheld in the Supreme Court. Though this repeal will be rejected in the Democratic-led Senate and will certainly not get President Obama’s signature, Florida Republican Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart says repealing the law is critical.
“The health care legislation is basically a tax on the middle class,” says Congressman Díaz-Balart. ”Obamacare has not proven to be a solution to the problem of uninsured Americans – it has made things worse, and it is killing the economy and costing thousands of jobs,” he adds.
Diaz-Balart was one of 182 co-sponsors of the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” sponsored by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Republicans argue that the legislation places an undue burden on the budget as it expands Medicaid to increase the number of adults with insurance. Moreover, Republicans say forcing uninsured Americans who can afford it to buy insurance amounts to raising taxes, like Congressman Díaz-Balart believes.
Health care is an important issue for Latinos. Currently almost one out of every three uninsured Americans is Hispanic; it is estimated that sixteen million Hispanics lack health insurance. Groups like the National Hispanic Medical Association and the National Council of La Raza have come out in support of the Affordable Care Act.
“As a group, Hispanics stand to gain the most coverage under this law ” said Jennifer Ng’andu, a health policy expert at the National Council of La Raza, shortly after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the health care legislation. ”Eighteen percent more Hispanics would be covered if the legislation is allowed to take effect,” said Ng’andu.
A January 2012 Latino Decisions/Univision poll of Latino registered voters found 57 percent of Latinos thought the Affordable Care Act should be left to stand, 28 percent thought it should be repealed, and 15 percent did not know. Another Latino Decisions poll had found sixty percent of registered Latino voters thought it is the role of government to ensure that everyone has access to health care, whereas 25 percent thought people should be responsible for getting their own health insurance.
Yet fifty-nine percent of Latinos in an October 2011 Latino Decisions poll were opposed to the individual mandate, which requires everyone who can afford to join an insurance plan. Other aspects of the legislation, however, are very popular by an increasing number of Americans, including keeping adult children in parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26 and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to children and adults with pre-existing conditions.
The health care legislation has been a campaign issue for both parties for the past few years. Tea Party Republicans, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, were elected by voters opposed to the legislation. As the election gears up to November, President Obama and Vice President Biden have been touting the benefits of the law in all their campaign stops. Today, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was booed at an NAACP event when he told the largely African American audience he would repeal the law if he were elected. On the other hand, conservative and Republican groups have seen an increase in donations following the Supreme Court ruling upholding the legislation.