U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today issued the following statement regarding H.R. 3962, Speaker Pelosi's healthcare bill:
"In July I announced my serious concerns about the direction the House committee-passed healthcare legislation was heading. The more than 2,000 page version introduced by Speaker Pelosi last week that will be considered by the full House in the coming days has not resolved my concerns and is still bad medicine for South Jersey residents. Therefore, I will be voting NO.
"I have reviewed Speaker Pelosi's healthcare bill, specifically looking at provisions I objected to in previous drafts for signs of improvement: access to care for South Jersey families and the future of the critical doctor-patient relationship. Regrettably, I found insufficient changes to warrant my support. This final legislation continues to mandate all Americans to pay for coverage or pay a fine, ignores the legitimate concerns of our healthcare providers, and proposes tax increases on small businesses. In fact, given the bleak economic outlook, this legislation could even encourage small business owners to eliminate coverage for employees as a cost-saving measure.
"Despite Congressional and public uproar in the past few months, this legislation would still create more than 100 new bureaucracies and programs. It would also allow the President to appoint an unelected, unaccountable health czar,' who would have the authority to specify which basic benefits every plan would be required to provide. Services once offered under one's private plan could be denied under the newly-created government plan. Furthermore, as currently written, the bill would allow the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, which I have long opposed.
"Closer to home, this legislation is especially bad news for New Jersey. In Speaker Pelosi's attempt to pay for her vision of healthcare, she has proposed cuts to the Medicare program starting in 2010, which would affect the ability of our hospitals, long-term care and skilled-nursing facilities, inpatient rehab hospitals, home health agencies and hospices from maintaining the programs, services and state-of-the-art medical equipment currently available. In fact, New Jersey hospitals would face nearly $4 billion in cuts over the next decade. It is my real concern that South Jersey seniors and disabled residents will be disproportionately affected by the Medicare cuts given their significant use of these services.
"Moreover, the creation of a new surtax on the adjusted gross income of some New Jersey residents that is not indexed for inflation will engulf more and more middle-class taxpayers with each passing year. Similar to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and its negative effect on countless New Jersey residents each year, this surtax will simply cost more in the long-run to correct and will add to annual deficits.
"Lastly, the price-tag for Speaker Pelosi's healthcare bill is far too high given the economic realities of our country. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has determined the total cost to be up to $1.055 trillion, with $200 billion in additional taxes created on the American people and American businesses over the next 10 years. The Joint Tax Committee has estimated the taxes to reach $560 billion over the next decade largely due to the surtax. Just as we cannot spend our way back to economic growth, we cannot tax our way to more affordable, more accessible healthcare.
"On balance, there are several good provisions included that I have long supported; from making preventative care more accessible and removing restrictions on coverage for those with preexisting conditions, to increasing the number of primary care professionals. These provisions are widely agreed upon and could easily receive broad bipartisan support. But Speaker Pelosi intentionally ignored additional legitimate, critical reforms offered by both sides of the political aisle such as common-sense medical malpractice reforms.
"Throughout the healthcare debate, I have spoken with countless South Jersey residents who have reached out to my office. As I have said, it is critically important we get healthcare reform done, but it must be done right rather than done quickly. I strongly believe the final bill should keep its focus on what the American people have repeatedly called for: ensuring access for patients, protecting the doctor-patient relationship, and promoting the results-oriented goal of healthy outcomes. Speaker Pelosi's healthcare bill moved far beyond what my constituents and I are comfortable with and therefore I will not support it."