Two years ago today, President Obama signed his new health care reform bill into law – promising to lower health care costs and strengthen our health care system for millions of Americans. Over the past two years, the widespread impact of the new law has become painfully clear: it is making things worse. Health care costs are skyrocketing, access to quality care has been severely weakened, and many Americans will lose their current insurance coverage as a result of the law. It is no surprise that two years after passage, a majority of Americans still oppose this flawed plan.
Because of its failure to reduce health care costs, families and individuals across our country have already felt the impact of this health plan. Americans are paying higher insurance premiums and when the law is fully implemented, health insurance premiums for families will rise by $2,100, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Not only will costs continue to rise, but the law provides strong incentives for businesses to drop health coverage for their employees. Contrary to the popular pledge that you can “keep your plan if you like it” – the Obama Administration now estimates nearly 70 percent of all businesses will be forced to give up their current employee health plans. American citizens will foot the bill for the law’s new entitlement structure by paying higher taxes to help cover an estimated $390 billion increase in government subsidies and federal health spending.
The President’s health care law will also jeopardize access to quality health care for rural Americans and threaten the survival of small towns. Instead of working to strengthen Medicare, the law cut the program by nearly $530 billion to create a new entitlement. These cuts disproportionately affect rural hospitals in Kansas and across the country because they care for a higher percentage of Medicare patients than their urban counterparts. If Medicare rates are cut even further below the actual cost of care, this will create shortages of doctors, nurses, and other providers. The President’s own chief Medicare actuary raised concerns that cuts to hospitals and other Medicare providers could cause as many as 40 percent of providers to become unprofitable. This will severely jeopardize access to care for Kansans in rural communities, where 75 percent of our hospitals are located.
Our country’s economic growth has also been stifled because of the health law. Since the law passed, it has generated more than 12,000 pages of new regulations. These new regulations are a major concern for businesses in a challenging economic climate, and the uncertainty surrounding them is discouraging businesses from expanding and hiring. In fact, a recent Gallup survey found 48 percent of small businesses are not hiring because of the potential cost of health insurance under this law and 46 percent are not hiring given their concerns over the law’s burdensome new regulations.
State budgets have also been hit hard by the new health care law – nearly 40 of which are facing a severe budget shortfall this year. Medicaid already consumes, on average, 24 percent of states’ budgets. This law will add nearly 25 million individuals to Medicaid rolls, the largest single expansion of Medicaid in the program’s history. The federal government will cover the cost of this huge expansion during the law’s initial three years, but beginning in 2017, states will shoulder this cost, which is reported to be $118 billion through 2023. This mandate on state budgets will crowd out local priorities like education and public safety.
Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law. In a recent survey conducted by ABC News/Washington Post, two-thirds of Americans said the Supreme Court should throw out the individual mandate or the law in its entirety. The health care law has generated significant uncertainty for American families and businesses, which has only compounded the steep economic challenges already facing our nation. It is critically important that the Court determine as soon as possible whether the law is constitutional.
A 2,700 page plan that increases costs, restricts economic growth and jeopardizes access to care is the wrong direction for Kansas and for our country. We need to replace this damaging law with sensible, targeted reforms to drive down health care costs without hindering access to quality health care. These are the commonsense policies that the American people support.