Ryan Opposes Expansion of Government-Run Health Program, Regressive Tax Hikes, and Budget Gimmicks
1st District Congressman Paul Ryan today voted against legislation that exploits the reauthorization of a popular children's health insurance program to expand government-run, bureaucracy-driven health care and increase already unsustainable entitlement spending. The bill would hurt working families, taxpayers, and doctors through a combination of cuts to physician-owned hospitals and tax increases to "pay" for this fiscally irresponsible proposal - although budget gimmicks hide its true cost. Without any hearings or an opportunity to offer amendments, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2 today by a vote of 289 - 139.
The legislation goes far beyond simply extending the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a program intended to serve low-income, uninsured children whose family incomes were a little too high to qualify for Medicaid assistance. Instead, H.R 2 expands eligibility to include families making more than $80,000 a year, loosens citizenship verification standards, and moves millions of children who already have private insurance onto government-run health care. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Majority's plan would shift about 2.4 million individuals currently enrolled in private health care plans to government-run health care.
The legislation attempts to pay for this massive expansion of an entitlement program by imposing an ill-conceived, regressive tax on tobacco and by attacking physician-owned hospitals. H.R. 2 not only eliminates the creation of physician-owned hospitals, but goes further by prohibiting the completion of those under construction - threatening jobs and forfeiting millions of dollars already invested in these facilities. This bill moves us further away from the goal of putting the patient and their physician as the nucleus of health care delivery.
The true cost of this entitlement expansion is deceptively hidden in the legislative language, but holds dramatic consequences for millions of children and taxpayers. After five years of attracting new SCHIP enrollees, the bill abruptly cuts SCHIP funding by 65% in 2014. This would effectively pull out the rug on 7 million children reliant on this program. If Congress decides not to kick these children off the program in 2014, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would cost taxpayers $42 billion more. This budget gimmick is either disingenuous to the taxpayer or disingenuous to millions of children.
Following his vote against the deeply flawed legislation, Ryan released the following statement:
"Congress should be making thoughtful reforms to help insure the uninsured, lower the high cost of health coverage, and give patients the options they need to access quality care. Instead, this bill uses a children's health insurance program as an excuse to push people from private health insurance to government health coverage, while imposing taxes on low-income Americans and eliminating new physician-owned hospitals. It essentially creates a costly new entitlement program at a time when our existing major entitlements are going broke. While I support extending the State Children's Health Insurance Program so it can keep fulfilling its original purpose, this fiscally irresponsible bill goes far beyond this goal - doing more harm than good."