Last week, this newspaper, as part of its "Roses & Thistles" column, suggested that my efforts to repeal Obamacare may not be rooted in my sincere desire to "serve the public." That is a baseless charge, but I appreciate the newspaper allowing me to address it here:
I believe Obamacare is bad for the future of the health insurance market. The law creates perverse incentives by discouraging consumer-driven health insurance options and encouraging greater third-party involvement in health care decisions.
This further insulates decision-makers from the costs of their decisions, driving costs up. I believe that will cost Americans thousands of dollars in added insurance costs every year. In addition, every insurance "benefit" mandated by the law and touted by its supporters directly costs someone, somewhere -- generally taxpayers or the "beneficiaries" themselves (through higher premiums).
I believe Obamacare is bad for health care providers. On the front end, Obamacare raids $716 billion from Medicare to pay for new Obamacare programs. There is no doubt Congress needs to enact cost savings for Medicare, but it should do so to shore up the program's long-term solvency, not raid it for other unrelated spending.
Obamacare's cuts fall mostly on providers, who are already under-reimbursed under Medicare, especially in Iowa. On the back end, Obamacare creates the Independent Payment Advisory Board, an independent board of 15 unelected bureaucrats with the near-unilateral power to further squeeze health care providers, ultimately leading to less access to quality care for Iowa seniors.
Medicare's regulators estimate that these cuts could cause up to 40 percent of hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies to withdraw from providing services to Medicare beneficiaries.
I believe Obamacare is bad for the economy. The law will impose enormous costs on small businesses -- costs that will not come close to being offset by the law's nominal support for those businesses.
Companies around the country and in Iowa are coming to that conclusion. We already see many companies trying to stay below the 50-employee threshold that sparks much of Obamacare's costs. Companies are also starting to reduce their hourly employees to below the law's threshold of 30 hours a week.
Those developments are bad for job-seekers, bad for low-skilled workers and bad for growth. What are the other options available to companies if they want to stay in business? Cut back on wages, lay off workers or raise prices for consumers. That's not good for anyone.
Drawing attention to the inevitable consequences of misguided programs is important, even if repeal seems far away. I would point out that just three months ago, President Obama signed into law the repeal of the CLASS Act, which was a part of Obamacare that he and others championed and which was in many ways a microcosm of the larger bill.
The CLASS Act was a poorly designed, insolvent long-term care insurance program. However, if not for certain legislators, media, independent auditors and average Americans pointing out that the CLASS Act would lead to a classic insurance cost "death spiral," the CLASS Act might continue to exist today.
There are a number of Obamacare components that have been repealed, and, far from being removed from that important process, I have helped to pass those repeals in the House of Representatives.
One further point: There are a number of laws, even health entitlement laws, that have been repealed. Just look at the repeal of the Rostenkowski Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988. Not all uphill climbs are lone Sisyphean ventures. In fact, the House of Representatives -- the People's House -- will pass the repeal of Obamacare as part of its 2014 budget.
Finally, this newspaper may disagree with me on every single point I mentioned above, but it should rethink its suggestion that it does not "serve the public" or my constituents to talk about these issues. This newspaper's disagreements with me certainly don't excuse its baseless suggestions that my motives are anything other than what I believe is best for my constituents, for Iowa and for this country.