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The Champions Sun- Texas Officials Discuss the State of Health Care

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Location: Washington, DC

By SATARA WILLIAMS, The Champions Sun

President Obama signed the health care reform legislation into law on March 23, 2010 which was passed by the House with a vote of 219-212.

The bill, which will cost $940 billion in a span of ten years, will provide insurance to 32 million individuals, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The umbrella of coverage will spread to millions, however, those who do not obtain insurance will be penalized with a fine beginning in 2014, according to reports.

It may be seven months later since the bill received the votes, but many officials are still unsatisfied with the health care regulations.

"Obamacare is a disaster for Texas, America and individuals. It's one of the worse pieces of legislation devised and signed into law," Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Dist.7) said. "In Texas if fully implemented, it would cost $25 billion over the 10-year period, swamp our budget and force us to either raise new revenues or cut funding for education."

Congressman Ted Poe (R-Dist.2) also voiced his grievances with the bill and said he is in favor of a health care solution that is not so expensive.

"Right now we need to repeal the current health care bill, defund it, start over and do things that make sense and don't cost money," he said.

Congressman Michael McCaul (R-Dist.10), who voted against the health care reform legislation, said he'd be in support of alternative methods as well.

"We must improve access to affordable, high quality care and remove pre-existing conditions as barriers to coverage, but without unconstitutional mandates, higher costs to businesses that deter hiring, without drastic cuts to Medicare and without driving doctors out of their profession," he said.

An area of concern for many, in regards to the legislation, involves small businesses and whether or not they'll be punished when the healthcare bill becomes in effect.

"The coverage mandate on small businesses has created a disincentive to hire because they are penalized for each employee they do not cover, and the cost of coverage they would otherwise provide increases under new regulations," McCaul said. "I hear this across my district from large and small employers alike."

Poe agreed in his concern for small businesses and said government needs to promote competition across the state lines in regards to insurance.

"We need to reward businesses that take care of their employees and provide tax breaks and tax incentives to those employers," Poe said. "We need to allow small businesses to get together for a better insurance rate. We need to allow them to consolidate."

Some believe that the bill leaves too much room for error and is not fair for all.

"The penalty for young people to pay for not having insurance is less than the premium," Patrick said. "So, young people will pay the penalty until they get sick."

Others said more attention should be focused on enforcing the law against the abuse of health care system as a whole.

"The FBI said there's $65 billion in fraud of Medicare. When is the last time a person has been prosecuted for Medicare or Medicaid fraud?" Poe said. "It's time. We can't let it go under."

And yet 20 states are so up in arms over the national health care bill that they' decided to take legal action against the federal government by filing a lawsuit in March.

Residents of those areas are not alone in their frustrations as some believe mandated health insurance violates citizen's rights.

"If they're allowed to force us to get healthcare that we don't want, then they could have the power to say "you must keep your thermostat at a certain temperature or you have to buy a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon'," Patrick said. "Once government has the power to tell us what we must buy then they have the power to tell us in everything we do."

Click here to read in The Champions Sun


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