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Public Statements

Government Intrusion

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, last Friday was the second anniversary of the new health care law. This week we have been reminding the American public to take a hard look at what is in it, and, more importantly, why I don't want to observe this anniversary again.

Examples such as the Medicare reimbursement formula that allows Massachusetts to set Statewide hospital reimbursement rates for providers equal to the cushy wages paid to providers at a 15-bed hospital on the island of Nantucket that caters to the East coast elite.

This robs 19 other States of money for their reimbursements because it all comes from the same pot. In short, there aren't enough clams at this bake to go around, certainly not to Kansas after Massachusetts is finished.

Or the Health and Human Services' rule that required qualified health plans to offer contraception benefits. As my colleagues know, religious institutions that hold moral objections to specific services expressed widespread concern with the rule.

In response, Senator Blunt offered, and I cosponsored, S. 1467, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. This act would allow a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan without penalty and remain in compliance with the requirements under the new Health Care Law.

And what about the regulations that have caused insurance plans in 39 States to stop offering child-only plans, and parents in at least 17 States that are no longer able to purchase ANY child-only plans? Keep in mind, there are no private insurance alternatives for these families until the new health care law is fully implemented in 2014.

There is also the prohibition on what can be reimbursed from a Health Savings Account or HSA. I joined Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins in introducing a bipartisan bill to repeal this provision to restore the choice and flexibility people had in managing their health care expenses by buying over-the-counter medications.

Even more alarming is the act of granting waivers to more than 1,700 labor unions and others from participating in the new law. At issue are the mandates involving annual coverage forcing many employers not to offer coverage at all. So instead labor unions and others are getting waivers. Where is your waiver? Why can't all Kansans get a waiver??

At the time, Speaker Pelosi famously said we had to pass the bill to find out what is in it. Well, we have read it, and my concerns which I voiced throughout the very limited debate remain the same: the health care reform law is bad for Americans.

The health care reform law. Regulates every Americans' health coverage, by penalizing anyone without a Government-approved health plan.

The law penalizes American businesses that do not provide Government-approved health plans.

It forces more Americans into Medicaid--a broken, bankrupt Government entitlement program.

It puts the Federal Government in charge of your health insurance.

By one count, the law creates over 159 new boards, offices, and panels in the Federal Government to make decisions about your health care.

The law gives the Obama administration Secretary of Health and Human Services more than 1,700 new or expanded powers--to exert control over the lives and personal health care decisions of Americans; creates an unworkable new long-term insurance program that will go broke, leading to skyrocketing premiums or a taxpayer bailout; levies more than $550 billion dollars of taxes, fees, and penalties related to health care on American families and employers; and spends tens of billions of taxpayer dollars just to implement the massive new law.

The law micromanages how patients can spend their own tax-free health care dollars.

As of March 12, 2012, the total number of pages of regulations the administration has released related to the health spending law is 12,307, which is an increase of over 4,700 pages in the last year.

In addition to the formal regulations, the administration is also issuing hundreds of pages of subregulatory guidance in the form of ``bulletins'' to avoid having to describe how much these regulations will cost.

A significant portion of the regulations issued thus far have been interim final rules, which give the regulations the force of law prior to any public comment.

I have listed a number of these regulations in a letter I sent to President Obama. I did get a reply from Secretary Sebelius a few months later, but it never did address the concerns I had tried to bring to their attention. She did, however, note that they listen to all stakeholders before implementing new rules. Unfortunately, that isn't what I've been hearing.

While I travel around Kansas I try to talk to as many of our Kansas patients, providers and advocates as possible. Without fail, regulations and their effect on our health care system, how they affect health care costs, and the result they have on job loss come up.

I held a stakeholder roundtable in Topeka to get feedback from patients and providers on their thoughts related to health care reform. I was not surprised to hear that every representative at that meeting had a concern with regulations, but the sheer volume was truly extraordinary.

I was surprised to hear every representative at this stakeholder meeting discuss the impacts of health care reform and, more importantly, their concerns with regulations, some of which are buried in the volumes of regulations being put out every day and many that defy comprehension.

When discussing the health care reform and regulations with my constituents and those representing the patient and provider community, the No. 1 concern that I heard was a fear of what else is coming down the road? What will the impact of future regulations be?

The current burden of regulations pales in comparison to the uncertainty of future regulations. Future regulations from implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PPACA, will have an even greater impact on jobs and the economy. This is like the second health care reform earthquake. If you are a health care provider, hang on.

Additionally, the combination of the regulations being issued to implement the PPACA statute has resulted in an increase in premiums for individuals and businesses, which, as you know, results in increased costs and tough choices.

Providers feel that the significant costs associated with implementing the health reform law are either inaccurate or not taken into consideration. In fact, I often hear that patients and providers feel that they do not have a voice in the regulatory process.

More specifically, a number of regulations are currently being issued through a shortened process. This shortened process allows limited or no input from those most affected by the regulations, prior to their implementation, and result in an even greater confusion. And from confusion we get higher costs.

It is my understanding that 20 of the 51 rules issued to implement the health reform law have been issued as interim final rules and therefore with limited input. While there may have been instances in which a shortened process was necessary or appropriate, this lengthy list is absurd.

In my letter to the President, I listed some 34 regulations that my Kansas constituents noted had the most significant impact. I encouraged the administration to limit the use of this regulatory process and take every available opportunity to get feedback from those who would be most affected by these regulations and allow for ample time to review and consider that feedback prior to implementing future regulatory priorities.

Time and time again, I have heard no more regulations will be issued in the shortened process, and yet the interim rules continued to be issued. I have heard that stakeholder comments will be thoroughly reviewed and considered, but the actions by the administration don't seem to prove this. I have heard that economic impacts will be carefully considered, and yet the studies indicate otherwise.

If history truly does repeat itself, I don't have much hope of that.

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