By Christina Lane
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, criticized the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, saying the bill commonly called Obamacare is setting the country back in terms of medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs.
"When I think about the strides we've made, and now the government takeover -- it breaks my heart," Gohmert said.
Gohmert, who represents Northeast Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives, addressed issues of health care and the upcoming presidential election to the Gladewater community in a joint meeting of the city's Lions and Rotary clubs.
"Health care does need reform, but it did not need a full government takeover," Gohmert said.
He said he believes the health care plan, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, will result in fewer businesses offering insurance to their employees.
The plan is estimated to cost $12,000 per year to insure a person, he said. If businesses with more than 50 employees do not provide federally-approved health care, the act imposes a $2,000 penalty per employee per year, Gohmert said.
He believes more businesses would choose the cheaper funding option -- paying the $2,000 penalty. Additionally, he said, the Affordable Health Care Act would cut $716 billion from Medicare.
Gohmert said his health care plan would be to either allow people who are on Medicare to keep Medicare, or to offer the option of giving people cash (he estimated between $3,500 and $5,000) to be placed in a savings account only to be used for health care needs.
While Obamacare might allow pharmaceutical companies to make billions of dollars up front, they'll be losing in the end, Gohmert said. He doesn't believe the companies would be able to recoup costs associated with medical research that would enable them to develop "life-enhancing medications" as they have in the past 50 years.
"We will lose those great gains we have made in medicine," he said.
Gohmert encouraged the public to vote on Nov. 6, saying it is a founding principle of the country and that people who "want the government to stay out" must cast their vote.
Gohmert is opposed in the Nov. 6 general election by Democrat Shirley J. McKellar and Libertarian Clark Patterson.