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A Not So Happy Birthday for the Health Care Law


Location: Washington, DC

By Congressman Geoff Davis

On March 23rd, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will turn two years old, but it is unlikely that anyone will be rushing to wish it a happy birthday. Instead of decreasing costs and increasing access, the President's health care law is doing the opposite.

We all know the law used budget gimmicks to mask the health care law's exorbitant cost. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently told us just how much when the non-partisan organization projected a new ten-year price tag for 2013-2022 of nearly $1.8 trillion, almost double the original price tag of $938 billion.

By delaying implementation of most provisions until 2014, PPACA hid the true cost of the law and CBO's initial projection in reality only accounted for about six years of full implementation. The most recent projection accounts for nine years of full implementation, and so only next year will a projection for a full "ten-year" cost estimate be known. That number could be in excess of a whopping $2 trillion.

Here are two more staggering numbers. The CBO report states that a weak economy could push another seventeen million Americans onto Medicaid. CBO also estimates that the health care law's regulatory burdens will likely result in three to five million Americans losing their employer-provided coverage, while a worst case scenario could raise that number to as many as twenty million. So much for "if you like it, you can keep it."

The House is continuing to move in the right direction of repealing this disaster of a bill before the projected outcomes get any worse. In addition to full repeal, which the House passed in January 2011 and the Senate later blocked, we have been working to repeal particularly onerous pieces as well.

In March 2011, I voted with a majority of the House to pass H.R. 4, a bill to eliminate a requirement in the health care law that forced businesses to file a 1099 tax form any time they shared more than $600 in transactions with another business. The Democrats and President Obama agreed this was an unnecessary paperwork burden, and H.R. 4 became law last April.

The final version of the payroll tax extension bill, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (H.R. 3630), included a repeal of $5 billion from the Secretary of Health and Human Service's public health slush fund, another creation of the health care law. The President signed H.R. 3630 into law in February.

Another measure from this February was the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act (H.R. 1173), which the House passed on a bipartisan basis. This bill repeals the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program, an unsustainable and unworkable new entitlement program. Although Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad [D-ND] agreed and called the CLASS program a "Ponzi scheme," H.R. 1173 still awaits Senate action.

Now, the House is considering a measure that would eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). IPAB is a panel of fifteen unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats that has the authority to cut Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors, procedures and services. I voted in favor of the repeal bill (H.R. 452) in the Ways and Means Committee. The House is expected to vote on the bill soon.

While all of these efforts are helping to dismantle the health care law piece by piece, we cannot break down a wall by pulling out one brick at a time. Hopefully, once the Supreme Court hears arguments on the law's constitutionality this month, the law will be overturned. In the meantime, we will continue to find ways to work together to repeal pieces of the law so that we can replace it with patient-centered reforms that increase access without reducing quality or bankrupting our children's future.

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