Friday, March 23 was the second anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. While the day passed with little fanfare from the White House, the House of Representatives marked the event by passing legislation 24 hours earlier to repeal another controversial portion of the health care law.
Two full years after the president signed Obamcare into law, Americans' opposition to the health care law has not diminished. A recent ABC News/Washington Post survey found a majority opposed to the Obama administration's signature legislative accomplishment by a 52 to 41 percent margin. Sixty seven percent believe the law should be ditched or at the least the law's individual mandate that requires everyone to buy insurance should be scrapped.
Americans know Obamacare costs too much and could force them to give up their own care and doctors. In 2010, President Obama said his Affordable Care Act would cost $940 billion over ten years. Earlier this month, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released an updated price tag for Obamacare. The CBO says the cost is closer to $1.76 trillion. The bottom line: it will cost nearly twice as much as what the president said it would when he lobbied to pass it two years ago.
Unfortunately, that's not the only promise that's unfilled in the new health care law. Despite President Obama's assurance that Obamacare would reduce health care costs, the CBO predicts that Obamacare's mandates will force premiums to rise in the individual market by $2,100 a family.
President Obama also promised that Obamacare would allow Americans to keep their current health care plans and doctors if they want. In reality, Obamacare's regulations will force most employers -- including up to 80 percent of small businesses, by some estimates -- to drop medical coverage. The CBO now predicts millions more Americans will lose the health insurance they have through their employer. It's no wonder the White House chose not to throw a birthday party today.
Put simply, the Affordable Care Act is not affordable for the government, the economy or for Americans.
I oppose Obamacare and voted against it twice when it came before the Democrat-led House in late 2009 and early 2010. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has said that the only way to fix Obamacare is to fully repeal it.
Over the last 14 months the House has held 25 separate Floor votes to repeal, defund or dismantle Obamacare. We have also held 47 Committee hearings in six different committees about Obamacare.
On February 1, 2012, the House has passed legislation to repeal a portion of Obamacare known as the CLASS ACT. Last Thursday, the House passed a bill that would repeal Obamacare's Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB is a powerful panel of unelected bureaucrats whose sole job will be to save money by restricting Medicare beneficiaries' access to health care.
Many doctors have warned that if Medicare reimbursement rates are cut further -- as the IPAB plans to do -- they will stop seeing Medicare patients. Ironically, the IPAB's operational costs will be funded from the Medicare Trust Fund.
While most Americans disapprove of the heavy-handed reach of Obamacare into their personal care choices, we can agree that health care costs are too high. We can also agree that just opposing the president's health care plan is not enough. I have joined in supporting a balanced, market-based approach to health care reform that focuses on lowering costs and increasing access.
Last week, the House passed legislation that targets one of the biggest causes of skyrocketing medical care costs, malpractice lawsuit abuse. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 40 percent of malpractice suits are "without merit." In order to avoid costly lawsuits, doctors often engage in defensive medicine, ordering tests and prescribing medicines that are not medically necessary. They are also forced to pay higher premiums for malpractice insurance. Medical malpractice reform is a long-needed common sense step in controlling the price of health care.
In addition to medical liability reform, I also support offering Americans the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, expanding access to health savings accounts, and offering the right to coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.
America can do more to improve the cost and availability of health care and health insurance, but Obamacare's big government, less choice approach is not the answer. The House has shown leadership in not only standing up to Obamacare's costly mandates but in demonstrating that solutions can be adopted to preserve Americans' access to the care and doctors they prefer.
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