Speaker John Boehner and Republican representatives rally after passing a bill that would prevent a government shutdown while crippling the healthcare law. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Last week, TheNation.com noted that the decision by House Republicans to tie funding for the government to an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act would not likely result in President Obama signing a budget bill that undercuts his signature accomplishment. But the effort could lead to a government shutdown, which would cut off funding to a portion of healthcare reform through what is known as discretionary funding.
Affordable Care Act discretionary funding provides money to federal health clinics, school-based health centers and other programs that provide care to those without access to health coverage. A round up of these programs can be found in this CRS report, and pictures of Republican lawmakers celebrating Affordable Care Act–funded health clinics can be found here.
If Speaker John Boehner ends up shutting down the federal government to score political point against Obamacare, he will also be inflicting pain on his own constituents. Nation intern Nicolas Niarchos spoke to a number of health clinics that will lose funding if the federal government shuts down.
The Butler County Community Health Consortium, a Middleton, Ohio, health center that is in Boehner’s district, said that without ACA funding, it will be unable to hire outreach staff to provide preventive care, including immunizations, screening women for cervical cancer and general checkups. “The issue is that many of the poor wait until something is really wrong until they seek healthcare,” explained Peggy Vazquez, the consortium’s director of clinical operations.
Stephen Schilling, the CEO of Clinica Siera Vista, says a loss of ACA funding would make it difficult to continue outreach programs. “We could last for a few weeks, but would eventually have to start winding down care to almost 200,000 people,” Schilling told Niarchos via e-mail. Schilling’s district is represented by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican whip helping Boehner drive the government-shutdown strategy.
While political strategists on both sides are sizing up the prospects of a government shutdown, and how it will affect the midterm elections and the presidential campaign prospects of proponents like Senator Ted Cruz, patients needing healthcare are caught in the fray.
“My personal thoughts are that the politicians are not looking at the real problem. They’re causing more trouble for the working poor,” said Vazquez over the telephone. “Republicans and Democrats need to start thinking about the people who put them into power.”
In other Ohio news, Peter Rothberg says we have to stand up for Toni Morrison, whose book is under fire there.