News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

March 31, 2013

Healthcare law anniversary no reason for celebration

TERRE HAUTE — March 23 marked three years since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law, yet this is not an anniversary that deserves celebration.   

Three years ago, President Obama and his allies forced the Affordable Care Act on the American people, without gaining one Republican vote in the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate.  

As a former cardiothoracic surgeon, I understand that healthcare decisions are better made between a patient and their doctor — not by government bureaucrats.

The Affordable Care Act takes the opposite approach with a near government takeover of our nation’s healthcare system. This legislation actually cuts Medicare by $716 billion, places government as an obstacle to healthcare access, and stifles job creation. Despite the President’s promises, premiums are on the rise and nearly 7 million Americans will lose their job-based health insurance plans — these are plans that patients want.

The latest estimates show the cheapest family healthcare plan under the Affordable Care Act will cost $20,000, most of which will be paid by the U.S. taxpayer. This is under a system that requires all Americans to buy health insurance or face a penalty. The application for coverage, recently released, is 21 pages long and requests sensitive information that should not be required to apply for health insurance.

Under the Affordable Care Act, decisions concerning Medicare are placed in the hands of 15 unelected, unaccountable Washington, D.C. bureaucrats. This board is in charge of making cuts that will undoubtedly result in cuts to patient care and be detrimental to seniors’ access to the healthcare system.

The current Medicaid program is also expanded without the reforms that are necessary for the program’s long-term success, despite the fact that it is financially strapped and failing. The law prevents states from instituting patient centered reforms that have reduced costs, increased access, and improved quality of care.

We have seen this firsthand in Indiana. Gov. Pence is being denied his request to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan to cover low-income Hoosiers.

The House budget, passed last week, gives states the flexibility to pursue reforms similar to what we have done here in Indiana and I am pleased to have worked with Congressman Paul Ryan and his staff to get this done.

Over 20 new taxes, fees, and penalties were levied on small businesses — our nation’s job creators, to pay for this massive expansion of government.

Many companies have already started cutting full-time employees back to part-time hours. This means that Hoosiers will receive lower quality insurance at a higher cost with less take-home wages to pay for it.

Among the many new taxes, the medical device tax is also particularly troubling for Indiana. The 8th District is home to 17 medical device companies and Indiana is home to over 300 medical device companies that support 20,000 jobs directly and 28,000 jobs indirectly.

This 2.3 percent excise tax on the medical device industry has already forced Indiana businesses to scrap plans for expansion and I recently co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that immediately repeals it.

The bottom line is that the Affordable Care Act is bad for patients and their ability to access the care they need when they need it and it’s bad for small businesses.

This big-government approach to solving our nation’s healthcare challenges did nothing more than complicate a healthcare system that is in need of repair.  

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.

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. The only way we will effectively control cost while maintaining access to quality medical care for everyone is through true free market principles.

As a physician and as your representative in Congress, my goal is quality, affordable healthcare for all of our citizens. Common-sense, private-sector reforms are the answer, not a near government takeover of our nation’s healthcare system.

Rep. Larry Bucshon is a resident of Newburgh.

 

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