Student Loan Subsidy to be Funded by Cuts in ACA
In an illustration of the dangers of entrusting the federal government to administer health care in America, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have proposed paying for extensions in student loan interest subsidies with cuts from preventive services required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
California Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said:
The Republican bill strips away vital funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings for women. It strips funding for increasing child immunization and for screening newborns for things like hearing loss.
The interest rates on many student loans are subsidized by the federal government. The subsidized rate of 3.4 percent will double on July 1, 2012, to 6.8 percent unless Congress acts. Democrats have proposed funding the subsidy by closing loopholes on S-corporations. Republicans want to fund the subsidy by using the Prevention and Public Health Fund setup under the ACA.
Sam Baker, on Healthwatch, The Hill's healthcare blog, noted that Republicans aren't the only ones willing to use the country's healthcare funds for other purposes.
[President] Obama has backed cuts to the prevention fund in the past -- he agreed to strip one-third of its funding in a budget agreement last year. But the administration said healthcare is the wrong way to pay for the student-loan extension.
This is the future of health care funding we have to look forward to: Any time the federal government chooses, it can pull funds away from health care and use them for other purposes.
There is an alternative to having health care funds used like political footballs that are shifted to other projects by the federal government. One alternative is to keep health care policy out of the hands of the federal government and move it to the states, along with segregating the funds to pay for it and moving those funds to the states.
Our health care is too important to be left in the hands of the federal government, where it will be constantly subjected to manipulation to serve political ends.