As the House of Representatives moves closer to a vote on health care reform, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) voiced strong opposition to the Democrats' plan that includes a government-run option, costs more than $1 trillion, cuts Medicare by $500 billion, increases taxes by more than $700 billion, does not exclude federal funding of abortions, and could lead to the loss of 5 million more jobs.
"The Democrats' bill seeks to achieve universal health care coverage through a government-run plan, government subsidies, higher costs for families, small businesses, and senior citizens, and through a massive expansion of the federal deficit," Hall said. "This partisan bill was crafted behind closed doors and ignores constituents' concerns voiced at numerous town hall meetings held over the past months."
On October 29, 2009, the House Democratic Leadership introduced H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The 1,990-page bill will cost a minimum of $1.055 trillion over the next 10 years and will likely increase after the first decade, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
H.R. 3962 will increase premium costs for families and employers, cut Medicare benefits and will increase the federal deficit. The plan includes an employer mandate of acceptable coverage or imposes up to an 8 percent payroll tax, and it also imposes a new $153 billion surtax on small businesses. The bill would not explicitly deny the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions, and it lacks language that would ensure illegal immigrants would be excluded from receiving government-run health care benefits.
"The Republican alternative takes a commonsense approach to health care reform," Hall said. "It seeks to rein in health care costs and reduce health care premiums for families and small businesses to make health care more affordable for more Americans -- without cutting Medicare, without increasing taxes, without causing job losses and without adding to the federal deficit. It also explicitly prohibits all federal funds from being used to pay for abortions."
The Congressional Budget Office stated that the House Republican bill would reduce the deficit by $68 billion over 10 years and would reduce health insurance premiums for small businesses, individuals and employer coverage. The main provisions of the Republican bill include Association Health Plans and allowing states to establish interstate compacts, a State Innovations grant program to provide incentives to reduce premiums or reduced the uninsured, increased federal funding for high-risk pools and reinsurance programs, and improvements to Health Savings Accounts. The bill achieves savings from medical liability reform, administrative simplification, a pathway for follow-on biologics and fraud prevention.
"Our goal is to reach as many Americans as possible who want and need health care coverage by making this affordable -- by attracting competition between insurers, not by government mandates," Hall said. "The Republican bill is a step in the right direction. As the Speaker and the House Democrats push for a government overhaul of the health care system, I will continue to listen to my constituents and support reform that protects their best interests."