Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan is barnstorming the country, promising to repeal every provision of the Affordable Care Act if the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected. But a letter he wrote to the Obama administration may undermine this message.
On December 10, 2010, Ryan penned a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend a grant application for the Kenosha Community Health Center, Inc to develop a new facility in Racine, Wisconsin, an area within Ryan’s district. “The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary health care needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without health care,” Ryan wrote.
The grant Ryan requested was funded directly by the Affordable Care Act, better known simply as health care reform or Obamacare.
The letter, among several obtained by The Nation and The Investigative Fund through a Freedom of Information Act request, is a stark reminder that even the most ardent opponents of Obamacare privately acknowledge many of the law’s benefits.
Federally funded health clinics have long provided a broad range of vital medical, dental and mental health services to underprivileged communities across the country, regardless of a persons’ ability to pay. To meet the goal of expanding coverage, the Affordable Care Act provides for a sweeping expansion of such clinics,including $9.5 billion for operating costs to existing community health centers and $1.5 billion for new construction.
In public, Ryan has cultivated a profile as one of health reform’s most outspoken critics. He savages the Affordable Care Act as an example of “Washington’s reckless spending spree,” as “irresponsible,” and has warned repeatedly that it would place the “federal government squarely in the middle of health-care decisions.”
Explaining his “philosophical difference” with Democrats, Ryan told ABC News this summer that he would seek to repeal the “entire law” because health care rights come from “nature and God,” not the government. He expressed dismay that the Supreme Court upheld the law during the interview.
Ryan first denied responsibility for the stimulus grant requests; but later confessed that his office had sent the letters.
Republicans have praised Ryan for his willingness to embrace unpopular cuts to government programs and for being a “consistent conservative.” The fact that Ryan has privately pleaded with the Obama administration for government grants from the president’s signature policy accomplishments, however, could unravel that conceit.