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Column: ObamaCare hurts seniors, working families

For four years now our nation has been coming to grips with the reality of the president’s signature health care law. Although the president sold “ObamaCare” to the nation as a solution to the very real health care problems plaguing our country, a wave of harmful consequences is turning into a tsunami of problems that is leaving few unscathed in its wake.

As the administration continues to implement this flawed law, the more damaging the effects become and the further they spread. Even President Obama is recognizing the law’s fundamental problems by imposing numerous delays and exemptions through executive fiat. Unfortunately, no unilateral action can spare Minnesotans from the pain of ObamaCare.

Keith is a dairy farmer from Pine Island. His wife works as a secretary and they have two children in college. Keith shared with me how ObamaCare is affecting his family. “We have received a notice that we will be able to keep our ‘grandfathered’ policy by paying the current monthly premium of $1,550. Do the math and you will see that costs $18,600 for the year… How on God’s green earth is that affordable?”

Keith and his family aren’t alone. Norman from Inver Grove Heights had a health plan through his employer covering him and his wife at $199.78. According to Norman, “When ObamaCare went into effect my deduction shot up to $345.83 which I couldn’t afford.” Norman was able to buy a new policy but it offers less coverage. As Norman explained, “My wife and I are senior citizens and we don’t want to have to change our doctors which we would have to do if I switched to my employers cheapest plan.”

Higher costs and loss of coverage are not the only challenges facing Minnesota families. Recently I met with numerous fire chiefs and firefighters from around Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional district at the Eagan Fire Safety Center to discuss issues important to firefighters in the region. One issue raised was ObamaCare’s 30-hour rule. The law defines a “full-time” employee as someone who works 30 hours or more a week. Businesses – including fire departments – that employ 50 or more full-time workers are required to provide government-approved health insurance or face a substantial tax penalty.

Some of the firefighters said this rule is hurting fire departments struggling to manage a paid and volunteer firefighters schedule. As a result, fire departments are not able to have their firefighters work as many hours – an issue many small businesses are having with their employees as well. Labor unions have expressed similar concerns. According to a number of prominent union leaders, the law will “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

Seniors are also feeling additional pain because of ObamaCare. Home health services are slated to be cut by $22 billion effecting the lives of more than three million of our most vulnerable citizens. The cuts are part of the President’s $718 billion cut to Medicare to pay for his government takeover of health care.

Adding insult to injury, the administration recently disclosed $200 billion in ObamaCare-mandated cuts to Medicare Advantage. Last year, approximately 415,000 Minnesotans depended on this program. One estimate projects these cuts will be passed on to our seniors through higher costs and reduced benefits, with premiums projected to increase by up to $900 per year. In an effort to address this issue, I joined my colleagues demanding the Administration protect our seniors by rescinding these devastating cuts.

The president’s health care law is wreaking havoc on seniors, job creators, and working families. Four years later and it’s painfully obvious the American people deserve better. That is why I will continue to be laser-focused on solutions that will help lower health care costs, expand access, protect patients, encourage job creation, and ultimately protect Minnesotans and all Americans from the unfortunate consequences of ObamaCare.

John Kline is the Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He also serves on the House Armed Services Committee. He and his wife, Vicky, live in Burnsville.