In an attempted first step to repeal and replace the Obama takeover of health care, House Republicans forced a vote to eliminate the controversial and likely unconstitutional "individual mandate' at the heart of Obamacare.
"This is only the beginning," said Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), who held multiple press conferences and gave several speeches in the House chamber opposing Obama's initial efforts to takeover the U.S. healthcare system. "The stakes are too high to quit fighting Obamacare. Obama-Pelosi-Reid have put us on a path toward a healthcare crisis. We are facing the threat of a collision course with government-controlled, rationed healthcare, Medicare cuts and record-breaking deficits. The individual mandate forces people to buy insurance, but it's against the Constitution to be forced by the federal government to buy a product."
House Republicans forced a vote on a measure by House Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Rep. Dave Camp (MI-04) that was offered as the Republican motion-to-recommit on H.R. 5486, legislation that Republicans said would also create new taxes for businesses. The motion failed 187-230, with 229 Democrats voting against the measure.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2016, the individual mandate tax penalty will hit middle- and low-income Americans the hardest. Repealing the mandate will reduce the deficit--if individuals are not forced to buy insurance and to accept taxpayer-funded subsidies to help them afford the mandated insurance. The Republican motion, if passed, would have had the effect of reducing the deficit by $252 billion between 2010-2020.
Beyond this, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently estimated that Obamacare will: force 50 percent of all Medicare Advantage seniors to lose coverage; will spend $410 billion to expand Medicaid and add 20 million beneficiaries; tax the uninsured and employers who don't offer coverage by $120 billion; and still leave 18 million people uninsured. CMS's analysis also said many doctors may drop out of Medicare due to changes in reimbursement rates.
Smith has been a leader on health issues for many years as a co-chair of four bipartisan congressional caucuses: the Congressional Alzheimer's Task Force, Coalition for Autism Research and Education, Congressional Spina Bifida Caucus, and Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus. He also has been a staunch supporter of community health centers to serve the uninsured and underinsured.
Smith said Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with responsible health care reform that provides credible health insurance coverage for everyone, provides incentives for quality and innovation, as well as healthy behaviors and prevention. Current private health insurance should be reformed to put patients first and to eliminate denials of pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps. The tax code should be modernized to promote affordability and individual control of health insurance coverage, while providing assistance to low-income and middle-class families. Smith is also a cosponsor of H.R. 4903, legislation to repeal Obamacare in full.