By Crystal Ledford
Republican lawmakers advised human resources workers Tuesday that businesses and residents likely will see many costs associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
District 7 U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall and state Rep. Mark Hamilton addressed a group of about 50 during a meeting of the Cumming-Forsyth County HR Council at the University Center | GA 400 campus.
The meeting of the group, which is a part of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, was the first community event at the new college campus off Pilgrim Mill Road near Ga. 400 Exit 16.
Woodall said he would have handled health care reform differently than President Barack Obama, for whom the act has been dubbed by many as Obamacare.
The measure was upheld in June by the U.S. Supreme Court after several states, including Georgia, sued saying the act was unconstitutional.
"Had the president called me when he got ready to introduce this health care bill I would have said don't do this individual mandate," Woodall said. "I have said figure out how much you think health care is worth in this country and give a fully refundable tax credit for that amount and we wouldn't have any of these conversations about what my constitutional responsibilities are from the federal government."
As such, Woodall said, it is estimated that Obamacare will cost about $1.4 trillion.
Ironically, he noted, the measure actually will be a revenue-generator for Washington D.C., placing most of the burden on individual states.
"We're raising Medicare tax on high-income earners, we're raising investment taxes on high-income earners, we're bringing in tremendous amounts of revenue in at the federal level and we're dumping on all the responsibility for actually paying for the care [on the states]," he said.
"The sad part is Gov. [Nathan] Deal doesn't have any pockets to reach in except for yours either. Beware federal folks who say it's not going to cost you a penny. Make sure you ask your state folks if it's going to cost you a penny because they've got to handle the other side of that."
Hamilton agreed, noting that insurance exchanges under the act will probably have to be funded at the state level.
"The exchange will basically remove the free market and say, "OK, we're going to run the health care insurance business in Georgia,'" said Hamilton, who represents District 23.
He noted that Georgia is studying the impacts of the exchange and how to set up the system.
"What's the cost?" Hamilton asked. "The federal government has already issued $850 billion in grants to 34 states to start looking at setting up the exchanges, so all this idea that it's not going to cost us any money, people just don't get it."
Hamilton noted that under the act, many more will fall under Medicaid. "In Georgia, we estimate we will add 620,000 more people to our Medicaid rolls by 2014, that will be around 24 percent of Georgians on Medicaid.
"If our bill goes up, that comes from the taxpayers."