For anti-health care Republicans, "repeal" might make for good political fodder, but for the rest of us, it comes with serious consequences.
In the short term, if Republicans are successful in repealing the Affordable Care Act, key protections that are already making a difference for families across the country would be erased.
That would mean children with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or diabetes could once again be denied access to health care; insurers could take away your health coverage over an innocent mistake on an application; and insurers could reinstate annual limits on coverage.
What's more, millions of young adults will no longer be able to stay on their parents' plans, even if after from graduating college they can't find a job that offers benefits.
In the long term, if health reform is repealed, more than 57 million non-elderly Americans who have pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage in the individual market. The recession has underscored just how necessary health reform is as millions of people lost their jobs and their insurance, and then found it difficult to get covered as an individual.
If the law is repealed, seniors will lose their access to no-cost preventive services, help with the cost of prescription drugs and eventual elimination of the doughnut hole.
And consider this: If the law is fully repealed, small businesses would once again be left in the lurch. This means not only could they not pool their buying power in exchanges, they would also lose their eligibility for tax credits that would cover up to 35 percent of the cost of their premiums. Employees who work for small businesses would be on their own.
And the list goes on.
On top of the staggering human cost, repeal of the Affordable Care Act carries a massive financial burden to American taxpayers.
Recently, the Congressional Budget Office sent a letter to the newly elected Speaker of the House John Boehner explaining that HR 2 -- the resolution set out by House Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act -- will actually increase the deficit.
According to the CBO, repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the federal deficit by $230 billion over the next 10 years, and by about $1 trillion more in the decade thereafter.
That's all very inconvenient for ideologues who are trying to force through an anti-health care agenda, while at the same time trying to brand themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility.
So that leaves Republicans with two options -- debate the Affordable Care Act on its merits or attack the referees. And what they've decided is to attack the CBO and cry foul because the refs didn't rule their way.
And understanding what the law does makes a tremendous difference in the way people feel about it. When all the benefits of the Affordable Care Act are considered, only 26 percent of those polled want it repealed (AP / GfK poll, Jan. 5-10), and even as few as 18 percent (ABC / Washington Post poll, Jan. 13-16).
Repealing the Affordable Care Act would bring us back to a time when a child could be denied coverage because he or she was born with asthma. A cancer patient could be told "you've reached your limit; we can no longer cover you." And insurance companies could get away with using premiums dollars as profits rather than spending them on actual health care services.
We've made so many strides in making sure that every American has affordable access to health care. Going back to the way things were would not only cost the country a fortune, it would also cost millions of consumers their quality, affordable care.
Ron Pollack is executive director of Families USA.