By U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, 8th District, Indiana
Special to the Tribune-Star
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, is bad for Hoosiers and bad for jobs. We didn’t need to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision to know this.
With the economy still weak and millions of Americans out of work, President Obama should have focused more on the economy during his term rather than have it consumed entirely by health care. By doing so, many job creators view Obamacare as a hindrance.
With unemployment over 8 percent for 41 consecutive months, job creators don’t need another reason to not hire hard-working Americans. But, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 73 percent of small business owners say Obamacare “Is an Obstacle to Hiring More Employees.”
While this law hurts the real economy, hard-working taxpayers are left to foot the bill. In a campaign pledge in 2008, President Obama stated, “And I can make a firm pledge: under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase … not any of your taxes.” The Supreme Court has decided President Obama broke his promise by ruling the individual mandate constitutional under the Tax Clause.
This tax will mostly impact middle class families. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that 76 percent of those that will pay the tax make less than five times the federal poverty level, which is under $120,000 a year for a family of four. Hard-working taxpayers should not be saddled with more of the burden. This middle class tax increase clearly breaks President Obama’s promise and further hurts hard-working American families.
Additionally, Obamacare will impact Americans in ways they may not realize. More than 20 new taxes were included in Obamacare, not counting the individual mandate, including a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices set to take effect in 2013. There are over 300 medical device companies in Indiana, supporting over 20,000 Hoosier jobs directly and 28,000 secondary jobs.
A law that was supposed to reduce health care costs and the deficit does neither. Even with Obamacare in place, health-care spending will continue to outpace other sectors of our economy. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) project that health-care spending will grow 2 percentage points faster than the overall economy, about the same rate as the last 30 years and will account for nearly one fifth of our entire economy by 2021. Specifically, increases in spending directly linked to Obamacare will total $478 billion over the next 10 years.
With our national debt over $15.6 trillion and President Obama being regarded as the biggest spender in history, we cannot afford a near government takeover of health care. In March, the CBO estimated the gross cost of Obamacare to total $1.76 trillion through 2022, nearly twice as much as promised by President Obama and his allies in 2010.
I have consistently supported patients with pre-existing conditions having access to affordable insurance coverage, young adults up to age 26 staying on their parents’ policies, and keeping the Medicare donut hole closed. These are common sense, patient-centered reforms that are necessary as we can all agree the status quo is unacceptable.
These reforms are only the beginning of broad reform that is necessary to bring down the cost of health care and ensure all Americans have access to quality, timely, and affordable medical care. Some elements that are necessary for these patient-centered reforms are tort reform and insurance reform, to include: allowing purchase of coverage across state lines; employee pooling to create larger buying groups; Health Savings Account expansion; and greater price transparency to allow the consumer to make choices based on cost and quality. These ideas are a beginning. True free market principles applied to health care is the only way we will effectively control the cost while maintaining access to quality medical care for everyone.
Obamacare, signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, has had its day in court. While I disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, we need to repeal the law in its entirety and focus on implementing market-based solutions that lower costs while maintaining access to the highest quality of care. These are my top priorities, both as a physician and a member of Congress.
Rep. Bucshon, a Newburgh Republican, is serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives and is seeking re-election this year.