Column: U.S. can't afford flawed health care reforms
Whether hosting a roundtable discussion with the business community, touring a local manufacturing company, or visiting with constituents, I am continually reminded of Minnesotans' concerns about the president's health care law. Patients, doctors, health care providers, employers and workers share one common tenet when it comes to "ObamaCare": It weakens health care for American families.
The president signed his signature legislation into law three years ago this Saturday. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a colossal 2,700-page bill rushed through Congress without much effort to engage the American people in the process.
Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi embraced this scheme, infamously stating, "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it."
Three years later, it is clear the law does nothing to control costs or expand coverage. And many Americans have had enough. Despite promises that the health care law would lower costs, premiums are rising for families nationwide. And according to a new survey, things are only going to get worse.
ObamaCare could almost triple health care premiums across the board, with young individuals taking the biggest hit. Recent college graduates, who are struggling to pay off student loans and find good jobs, could see their premiums increase by as much as 189 percent. Any increase, let alone tripling costs, could break the bank for Americans in these tough economic times.
Why will costs skyrocket? Price controls and requirements to purchase government-approved plans are leading culprits. The law also imposes $165 billion in new taxes and fees on plans, drugs, and medical devices that will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher premiums and prices.
The president also promised the law would allow Americans to keep their preferred coverage. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently predicted the law could result in more than 7 million people losing employer-provided care as a growing number of employers can no longer afford to offer government-approved plans.
As chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, I am on the front lines of the ObamaCare debate. I have been an outspoken critic of the law since day one, and I remain concerned that, particularly once the administration fully implements the law's burdensome rules and regulations, it will unfairly penalize everyone from workers and employers to students, parents, and seniors.
In the 112th Congress, certain provisions of the health care law, such as the burdensome 1099 small business report requirement and the long-term CLASS Act, were deemed unworkable by the American people and stripped from the law in a bipartisan manner. We must continue peeling away similarly flawed provisions as we work to repeal the law.
I strongly support bipartisan legislation to eliminate the $29 billion tax on medical devices. If the tax is not repealed, it will stifle innovation, increase health care costs, and force companies to either lay off thousands of workers or shut down entirely. Simply put, this punitive tax - and the law as a whole - is the wrong answer to Minnesota's health care needs and our economy.
According to the administration's own estimates, ObamaCare will require American job creators, families and care providers to spend more than 127 million hours per year on compliance - and that burden is growing with every new regulation. Instead of focusing on creating jobs and investing in our economy, employers are forced to waste time and money complying with dictates of a government takeover of health care.
In an effort to help Americans monitor all of the federal mandates, rules, and red tape stemming from the president's health care law, I recently helped launch the "ObamaCare Burden Tracker." My colleagues and I will continue to hold the administration accountable for the consequences of this job-destroying law.
On a related note, I'm pleased to report the House of Representatives this week is scheduled to approve a budget that will balance. To help Americans who are struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing costs of health care, the budget repeals ObamaCare and opens the door for Washington to advance new legislation that will focus on responsible, patient-centered reforms without adding to our spending problem and increasing the tax burden.
Whether through full repeal or an incremental approach, I remain committed to unraveling this flawed law that is having a devastating effect on our economy and straining family budgets in Minnesota and nationwide. Most importantly, I will continue to pursue health care reform in a way that makes sense, supporting proposals that will actually lower health care costs without budgetary gimmicks, and protect the best interests individuals, families, and small businesses. Minnesotans, and all Americans, deserve better than ObamaCare's broken promises.
John Kline can be reached at 952-808-1213 or http://kline.house.gov