In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold most of the President's health care law, Nebraskans deserve to know what the decision means and what steps Congress will take to repeal the law in full to lower health care costs while increasing access to care.
The Court ruled on a 5-4 vote the federal mandate compelling individuals to purchase health care was Constitutional under Congress' power to tax. I respectfully disagree with the decision, in part because the requirement to purchase minimum health coverage was clearly written as a mandate, not as a tax. Even the President and other Democrats have argued strongly the mandate is not a tax.
However, the ruling eliminates the possibility the Court would overturn the entire law, instead leaving the responsibility of repeal in the hands of Congress. Said another way, the choice to repeal or leave the law in place lays entirely in the hands of the American people. On this point, Chief Justice John Roberts was quite clear.
Further, simply because the law is Constitutional does not make it good policy; nor does it mean the American people deserve policy they don't want rammed through on an entirely partisan basis.
Our health care system is broken and this law is making it worse, not better. More than two years after passage, health care costs continue to rise and millions of Americans are faced with losing the health coverage they were promised they could keep. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates as many as 20 million Americans could lose their current health benefits with this law in place, and the cost of health insurance will rise by $2,100 per family by 2016.
The law expands the size and scope of government. The estimated cost of the law has nearly doubled to $2 trillion according to CBO. Furthermore, the law already has added more than 12,000 pages of regulations to the Federal Register.
The House of Representatives already has passed H.R. 2 which repeals the health care law in its entirety, and we will vote on repeal again in the coming weeks. If the Senate and President refuse to join us in this effort, we will continue to undo the law piece by piece. The House already has passed, and the President already has signed into law, nine provisions to repeal or defund portions of the law.
However, repeal alone is not enough; our health care system is broken and needs patient-centered reforms which would lead to lower costs and greater access to care. Therefore the House of Representatives will pursue market-based policies which reduce costs. This process will begin in the Ways and Means Committee, where I will continue efforts to find real health care solutions to benefit all Americans without tax increases and onerous government mandates.
Learning from the experience of Obamacare, we will not rush to pass a massive bill without the support of the American people. Instead, we will take a step-by-step approach and build consensus around commonsense ideas to lower the costs and expand access to care.
The Supreme Court ruling was a setback but not a defeat, and with the support of the American people and Nebraskans, we will repeal this law. Our resolve and the stakes for the future of America's health care system never have been higher.