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Senator McConnell's Column on the One-Year Anniversary of the Health Care Spending Law


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One year ago, over the objections of the American people, Washington Democrats rammed through a disastrous health spending law in a partisan vote. At the time, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

Well, now we know--and the results are not pretty. One year later, the disastrous law is hiking health care costs, eliminating choices and hurting job growth.

The independent Congressional Budget Office estimates that health care spending by the federal government will go up by $464 billion over the next decade. The law raises taxes, by more than $550 billion on everything from family medical bills to personal investments, over the same time.

Rising costs means more money out of your wallet. Despite the president's pledge that premiums would decrease by $2,500, many Kentucky families will see their rates go up by nearly $2,100, according to the independent CBO.

The president also promised before the law's passage that "if you like what you have, you can keep it." Now his administration admits that up to 69 percent of businesses will have to change health plans to meet Washington's requirements instead of the needs of their employees. And those will be the people who still have a job: The law's tangle of taxes and regulations, as estimated by the CBO, will mean 800,000 fewer jobs.

The new law cuts more than $500 billion from Medicare--not to fix Medicare but to pay for a brand new entitlement. Nearly half of Kentucky's seniors will lose access to Medicare Advantage programs they know and like. Those who do keep their Medicare Advantage plans will see cuts of more than $1,300 in services later this decade.

Even the Obama administration has admitted the law is unworkable by granting over 1,000 waivers to unions and businesses. The entire state of Maine has received a waiver from some of the law's requirements, the first in the nation for a whole state. Three more states are seeking waivers, including Kentucky.

Twenty-eight states are suing the federal government to get out from under the crushing Medicaid expansions and the individual mandate to buy insurance. That's because the law tells states what to do but doesn't provide all the money to pay for it--and Kentucky will be forced to spend $695 million we don't have between 2014 and 2019 on additional Medicaid benefits as a result. Governor Steve Beshear said, "I have no idea how we're going to pay for it."

Here's just one more example of how the health spending bill has made a mess of things. Thousands of Kentuckians pay for their health care costs with flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts. Now thanks to the new law, people using accounts like these must get a prescription for over-the-counter drugs. Doctors' offices are clogged with people asking for prescriptions for aspirin or rash cream.

Do we have to wait any longer to fix this mess? Or is one year enough?

More regulations, more taxes, more government spending, and more bureaucracy makes our health care system worse, not better. And we have record levels of federal spending and debt, along with too-high unemployment.

Government should do everything possible to turn that around--and that means repealing the health spending law and replacing it with common-sense, step-by-step reforms Americans support. This time reform means really cutting costs and giving consumers choices.

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