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The Detroit News - Commentary: Obamacare is Too Costly, Bad for Business

Op-Ed

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By Congressman Tim Walberg

As the country waits for the Supreme Court's final ruling on the 2010 healthcare law, my colleagues and I in the House have been working hard to repeal, defund and dismantle it. Few things are as important as the health of our families, but the president's health care law is threatening to raise costs while taking away choices for the American people. In addition, the law has already and will continue to hurt job creation. That's why Republicans remain committed to allowing you to make your own decisions about your care.

The president's health care law is unpopular, overreaching and unaffordable. According to a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, nearly 70 percent of Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn part or all of the 2010 law.

One reason is the cost.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts the law will be twice as costly as originally promised, totaling $1.7 trillion over 10 years. The law is full of new and confusing rules and has already led to more than 12,000 pages of related notices and regulations being published in the federal register. Businesses with 50 or more employees will be forced to pay a penalty, between $2,000 and $3,000 per worker, if they fail to offer a government-approved health insurance.

This is not just poor policy but also poor timing. According to a Gallup poll, 85 percent of small businesses are not looking to hire new workers, and nearly half are already worried about the future of health care costs.

The 2010 health care law is also full of burdensome taxes. One such provision would place a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices sold in the United States, ranging from defibrillators to hip and knee joint replacements.

The tax is even more burdensome than most because it applies to gross revenues, not profits. So even if a company posts a loss, it will still have to pay this tax. Experts predict the tax could result in the loss of 40,000 American jobs. Common sense also tells us this burden will trickle down to the consumer in the form of higher prices.

In response, the House recently passed H.R. 436, the Health Care Cost Reduction Act, to repeal the medical tax as well as increase flexibility for families and reduce health care costs by allowing employees to use their flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription.

On top of harmful taxes and new regulations, the health care law also proves damaging to seniors by cutting more than $500 billion from Medicare to finance new entitlement programs. According to the American Medical Association, one in three primary care doctors already limit the number of new Medicare patients they take on due to cost.

If the Supreme Court does not overturn the law in its entirety, Republicans in the House will continue to fight for a full repeal. In its place we need common-sense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans' access to the care they need, from their own doctor, and at a lower cost. If Congress takes these steps we can make health care affordable for people across Michigan and the nation.

We will not repeat the Democrats' mistakes and rush to pass a massive bill that the American people don't support. At the end of the day, House Republicans believe health care decisions should be made by patients, families and their doctors. Republican health care reforms will ensure families and employees make their own decisions about their health.


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