U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), a leader in Congress on many health care issues such as Lyme Disease, Alzheimer's and Autism, and chairman of the House subcommittee on global health issues, said the Supreme Court's decision today on the so-called "Affordable Care Act"--often called Obamacare--shows the devastating impact of a law that has divided the nation and threatens a toxic economic mix of hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, a half-trillion dollars in higher taxes and sky-rocketing federal deficits. The court's far-reaching ruling heavily erodes the ability of millions of Americans' to make their own healthcare decisions.
"The Supreme Court's decision to uphold Obamacare, by the slimmest of majorities, is not a statement about the merits of this ill-conceived law," Smith said. "Today's razor-thin majority means five of nine Supreme Court justices found Obamacare and its enormous funding mechanisms permissible as a tax. We do not need new taxes. American's are overtaxed not undertaxed."
"Obamacare was jammed through the Democrat Congress in an egregious, flawed process that lacked transparency, vetting and any options for amendment. The end product is equally flawed and will lead to incentivizing the end of employer-based health care. It will also lead to a significant degrading of health care delivery in our country.
"The Court's decision does not say Obamacare is good for patients, doctors, hospitals, and the quality of health care delivery in the United States or our economy. We know that overall it is not, and it must be repealed and replaced with a policy that secures the delivery of quality, affordable, health care," said Smith.
"Unelected boards and bureaucrats, not doctors and patients, will be making health care decisions. The President's guarantee that you can keep your doctor and keep you plan has already proven to be a complete falsehood.
"The fact that the President said his plan was not a tax increase as he pushed it through Congress and then argued in the court that it is constitutional as a tax, is as duplicitous as it gets. To tell the American people one thing and a focus group of justices another is double-dealing and unethical lawmaking. How can you take him at his word on anything?
"The ends do not justify the means. If the President was convinced his plan was worthy he should have been upfront from the start admitting his plan is an enormous, unaffordable tax that will cost nearly $1.8 trillion while reducing our quality of care forever."
Smith said that unless Congress steps in with real reforms that will reduce costs while preserving patient rights, many Americans will lose their plans and their doctors and be forced onto the still undefined exchanges.
"With a $500 billion cut in Medicare, including Medicare Advantage, health care for seniors will be dramatically changed. And with some of the largest companies in America already predicting that it will be cheaper for them to pay a penalty rather than continue healthcare coverage for their employees, America's workers will also be forced to find new health care for their families and themselves.
"This is one of those rare programs where the more people learn, the less they like the law," Smith said. "The manner in which it was forced upon the people, the hidden costs, taxes and restraints on access make it very unpopular, unworkable and simply unaffordable.
"This could prove to be a game changer," he said. "You can fool some of the people some of the time; you cannot fool them all of the time. Now that Obamacare's stunning price tag is known, it will be further rejected."
Smith said he supports patient-centric concepts in healthcare reform, such as the creation of high-risk insurance pools to guarantee that all Americans regardless of pre-existing conditions have access to care, and allowing small businesses to pool together and offer health care to employees at lower prices. He feels that Americans should be able to shop for coverage and buy insurance across states lines if they choose, and notes real medical liability reforms to end junk lawsuits and curb the costs of defensive medicine are needed. He supports real conscience protections in our healthcare programs and supports the idea that dependents can remain on their parents' insurance policies up to age 26.
By contrast, Obamacare slashes payments to Medicare providers and Medicare Advantage senior plans by an estimated $575 billion, which would cause in physicians to stop seeing Medicare patients, worsening access to care. The President also raises taxes over $500 billion, and most companies will have to provide and pay for expensive government-set health insurance for their employees or face federal penalties. The Congressional Budget Office has raised its estimate of the cost of Obamacare to $1.76 trillion over 10 years to feed an exploding bureaucracy of more than 150 boards, agencies and programs to assert government control over Americans' healthcare.
Obamacare also threatens the doctor-patient relationship with a maze of bureaucratic approvals and reviews. In an unprecedented move, religious organizations will be required by the government to pay for expenses they may be morally opposed to, such as sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. While the President promised to lower costs, instead the average family now pays $2,200 more a year in health coverage than it did three years ago. And with Obamacare's new taxes on insurance policies and medical equipment, along with a web of new regulations, healthcare costs are certain to rise sharply. Though Obama insisted his healthcare was not a tax, the ruling said it was.
Earlier this year, Smith and the majority of his colleagues passed the Protecting Access to Healthcare Act (HR 5) to eliminate the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory board (IPAB), an unelected and unaccountable board of 15 bureaucrats who were given the power by Obamacare to reduce Medicare payments to doctors, further hurting seniors access to care, as well as to institute needed medical liability reform. And just this month, Smith voted for the Health Care Cost Reduction Act (HR 436) which passed with bipartisan support in the House. The legislation repeals Obamacare's tax on medical devices and limitations on the purchase of over-the-counter medications imposed by President Obama's health care law, while improving flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to allow Americans to keep more of their money by removing limitations on the purchase of over-the-counter medications. The measure passed with 37 Democrats joining Republicans in a 270-146. Both measures are pending in the Senate.
"President Obama's government-controlled health care should be repealed and replaced with patient-centered reforms," Smith said. "Americans have lost some important freedoms today."
Smith is a longtime leader in healthcare. He has been a strong advocate of community health centers as a resource to provide quality primary healthcare, including at some facilities dental care, to local residents. He has been instrumental in helping health centers in his district to obtain designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
The congressman authored The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA)"-- (now Public Law 112-32), signed into law in September 2011. His landmark legislation enacted in 2000--the Autism Statistics, Surveillance, Research and Epidemiology Act (Title I, P.L. 106-310) created the first comprehensive federal program to combat autism. He also authored the provision in Title I of the Children's Health Act (PL 106-310) which created the Centers of Excellence in Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disabilities Epidemiology that carries out autism studies.
Smith is also the prime author of a dozen veterans' laws, including the Veterans Health Programs Improvement Act of 2004 (PL 108-422)--which authorized regional polytrauma medical centers for veterans.