Opinion: Health Care Act: - Guilty as charged
On Jan. 1, 2014 — the date on which the Health Care Act’s individual mandate, federally subsidized state health exchanges and an unprecedented Medicaid expansion each take effect — the outstretched and cradling arms of big government will lure millions of new Americans into his embrace, putting our nation firmly on the path to insolvency.
The left’s heavy-handed approach to health reform will not make health insurance more affordable, improve the quality of care or increase coverage. Rather, the Health Care Act will do the exact opposite, and very likely bring the economy down with it.
With our nation on the brink of slipping back into recession and unemployment at record levels, this package represents a full assault against economic recovery and should be held guilty as such.
While I recognize that a law cannot be indicted under our criminal justice system, the courts of public opinion and political discourse provide an appropriate forum for the Health Care Act to stand trial.
The following is a simple and straightforward three-count indictment against the president’s health care law — an indictment that proves the law is guilty as charged and must face the only sentence that fits the crime: full repeal.
Count One: The act is strangling job creation.
According to a National Federation of Independent Business index that tracks business confidence, optimism among small-business owners in June dropped to its lowest level since October 2011. If small-business owners are feeling uncertain about the costs of health care or the massive tax increases under this Health Care Act, they are unlikely to expand and hire additional workers. Under the law’s slew of mandates and taxes, many employers will face higher health insurance costs.
An NFIB report estimates that the law’s health-insurance-premium tax could raise employer-sponsored premiums by as much as 3 percent, and impose a cumulative cost of nearly $5,000 per family by 2020.
Further, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the employer mandate under the Health Care Act — which requires firms with 50 or more employees to offer mandated coverage or face a tax — will cost businesses $52 billion in tax penalties between 2014 and 2019.
In these tight economic times, with business owners laser-focused on their bottom lines, the Health Care Act’s numerous mandates and taxes are nothing more than certified job killers.
Count Two: The act will destroy Medicare and Medicaid.
Even without the weight of this act, Medicare and Medicaid are already on the path to bankruptcy. With the Health Care Act, the situation is even worse. The president’s health care law raids Medicare by more than $500 billion and creates a Medicare rationing board — a group of 15 unelected bureaucrats — to slow the growth of Medicare spending.
Not only does the law cut Medicare, but it also fails to save the program to ensure we can cover the cost of current and future retirees.
The situation with Medicaid is not much better. In fact, the law drastically expands Medicaid, putting millions of more Americans on government health insurance. In fact, by 2020, according to a non-partisan Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ estimate, one-in-four Americans will be enrolled in Medicaid. This is simply not sustainable.
And while the health care package initially covers the states’ share of costs of new enrollees, this sweet deal — at the expense of the American taxpayer — doesn’t last forever. With state budgets already buckling under the pressure of Medicaid, in the end taxpayers will be left footing the bill.
Count Three: The Health Care Act is recklessly blocking implementation of real health care reform.
To reform our health care system, we need to do better than a government takeover of health care. And make no mistake, real solutions are within our grasp.
To increase coverage, we should expand tax breaks in the employer-sponsored market to the individual market, and expand tax-free health savings accounts. We should increase competition among insurers, allow small businesses and individuals to pool risk and allow health insurance sales across state lines.
In addition, we must reform Medicare by providing seniors greater choices and harnessing the power of competition to drive down long-term costs. And we must save Medicaid for those who are truly needy by giving states the flexibility to meet their distinct needs.
Even though Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court have deemed the Health Care Act constitutional using an artful combination of sleight-of-hand illusion and tortured legal reasoning, the president’s signature health care law still stands to erode American freedom and remains an anvil on the wings of our dynamic free enterprise system.
In fact, I believe that the damage that the law has already inflicted — and to a greater degree, will continue to inflict — can be reversed only through total repeal of the law. For the reasons outlined above, I believe that the Health Care Act is guilty of crimes against the economy.
Let’s give the law the only sentence it deserves: full repeal.
Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, represents New Jersey’s 5th congressional district. He is the vice-chairman of the House Budget Committee and founder and chairman of the Congressional Constitution Caucus.