Sebelius: Repealing Health Care Law Would ‘Raise Costs for Families’

By Susan Jones | January 20, 2011 | 5:41 AM EST

President Barack Obama embraces Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. in the East Room of the White House after signing the health care bill into law on March 23, 2010. (AP File Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( – In a statement issued Wednesday after the House voted to repeal the Democrats’ health care law, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the law is making a positive difference in Americans’ lives.

She singled out three groups in her statement: senior citizens; the 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions – a number produced by Sebelius’ own department; and families making $55,000 a year or less.

If the law is repealed, Sebelius said, senior citizens would lose new Medicare benefits, “including savings on their prescription drugs and new health and wellness benefits.” (The new law expands senior citizens’ prescription drug entitlement by paying more for brand-name drugs in cases where seniors hit the drug plan’s ‘donut hole.’)

Americans with pre-existing conditions – a broad category that includes people with high blood pressure, according to an HHS analysis – would fall victim to “insurance company discrimination,” Sebelius warned.

And repealing the health care law would raise health insurance costs for families – certain families, Sebelius warned. Again, she pointed to an analysis from her own Health and Services Department:

“A recent analysis by our Department shows that the Affordable Care Act will sharply reduce the cost of health insurance for millions of Americans.  A family of four making $55,000 is projected to save $6,000 a year in 2014.  For a working family with a $33,000 income, the savings could be up to $10,000 – the difference between being able to afford health insurance and going without it.”

Noting that the House vote does not change a thing, Sebelius assured people who already are benefiting from the law “that this department will continue to work every day to implement this vital law.”

On the other side of the argument, critics – including House Speaker John Boehner – say the law is budget-busting, job-killing response to a problem that has other solutions.

In a letter to Congress, 200 economists and experts warned that the current health care law “creates a massive new entitlement at a time when the budget is already buckling under the weight of existing entitlements.” (See related story)