By its nature, the U.S. Supreme Court considers cases with far-reaching implications. The 2011-2012 term has been no different. In one of its most highly-anticipated decisions, the Court ruled that the individual mandate provision in President Obama's Health Care Law would be unconstitutional, unless it is considered to be a tax on the American people. The ruling confirms that this law is a huge and unnecessary tax increase on all Americans. That is not what President Obama promised. We should now work together to repeal this law and enact true solutions that Americans overwhelmingly want--improved access to high-quality, affordable health care of their choosing.
When the bill was being forced through Congress, President Obama said "I can make a firm pledge: no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase--not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." In response, I offered an amendment to strip the bill of any provision that would violate that pledge. Despite receiving bipartisan support, my amendment was voted down, and the Court's ruling further confirms that this bill violated the President's pledge. The Congressional Budget Office has stated that more than 75 percent of the families who will be forced to pay the new individual mandate tax are the middle-class families the President pledged to protect.
This law is bad for the American people. This law did not fix the rising cost of health care. It fails on promises to lower health costs and premiums for working families. It fails on promises for American people to keep their health care plan if they liked it, and millions of people have learned they cannot. It increases the burden for small businesses to hire workers. This law threatens our country's financial strength and the American way of life.
The health care law has lead to higher premiums, drops in coverage and skyrocketing health care costs. The Congressional Budget Office(CBO) projected that private health insurance premiums per enrollee will increase an average of 5.7 percent per year between 2012 and 2022. The CBO and Joint Committee on Taxationalso continue to expect that the Health Care Law will lead to a reduction in employment-based health insurance, and the insurance coverage provisions of the law will have a net cost of nearly $1.1 trillion over ten years. As representatives of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 350,000 small business owners, put it, "Over the last two years, we have seen what does not work in health-care reform, and by turning a blind eye to lowering costs, health-care costs are forecasted to continue to rise, especially for small-business owners. There are solutions to address the high cost of health care, but Congress needs to act and act now."
I agree. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Gang of 6, I will continue to work to address our nation's health care problems and to reform our tax code to make it simpler, not more complex and burdensome, for the American people.
The Supreme Court majority's opinion states, "We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions." This ruling has put these issues squarely in front of Congress and the American people. With increased public awareness and clarity, we can improve our health care system and reform our tax code accordingly. This ruling makes it even more important to do so.