The Dallas Morning News
Rep. Jeb Hensarling
Yesterday was a bad day for freedom. I respect the Supreme Court’s decision, but I vigorously disagree with its core ruling.
While the court was heard from Thursday, the American people will be heard from in November.
President Barack Obama’s health care law remains something the nation cannot afford and the American people do not want. It threatens our economy and jeopardizes the future of patient-centered health care, and must be repealed before it’s too late.
As we continue to face one of the worst economies since the Great Depression, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts “Obamacare” will reduce the nation’s labor supply by 800,000 workers. Private economists predict an even larger nationwide loss of up to 2 million jobs. Furthermore, a recent Chamber of Commerce survey indicated that a whopping 74 percent of small businesses say the law makes it more difficult for them to hire new workers.
We cannot afford the law. The annual survey on employer-provided insurance by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that average family premiums have increased by roughly $2,200 since Obamacare’s passage.
Additionally, the law contains $813 billion of new taxes and weighs in at a total cost of almost $2 trillion. In other words, the so-called Affordable Care Act is not so affordable.
Perhaps most ominously, Obamacare — if left intact — will unalterably change the role of government in our society.
Not only does the law raid Medicare of half a trillion dollars but it also creates a panel of 15 unelected bureaucrats called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and empowers it to effectively ration health care to seniors.
It comes without any accountability or appeals process, and its decisions can only be overturned by an act of Congress.
Regrettably, IPAB is only one of 159 new federal boards, commissions and programs that will soon be placed between Americans and their doctors, not to mention the current 12,000 pages (and growing) of new rules and mandates, none of which bode well for the future of our health care.
Granting the federal government power over private medical decisions will have dangerous ramifications, as any health care professional can confirm. I recently met a doctor in Jacksonville who previously practiced medicine in his native Canada. He told me he left because, “The government wouldn’t allow me to give my patients the kind of care I knew they needed.”
To be sure, great challenges remain in our health care system, and a great effort will be required by both parties to ensure that every American has the opportunity for patient-centered health care that is affordable, portable, of high quality and that no debilitating illness will be able to wipe out a lifetime of savings.
This means enacting common-sense measures, in a thoughtful, step-by-step manner, without repeating the mistakes of the past. This means not rushing a 2,700-page bill through Congress, which we have to pass in order to discover what’s inside.
One common-sense idea is medical liability reform, since as much as 20 percent of all health care dispensed is “defensive medicine” due to fear of litigation, not medical necessity. Another common-sense solution is allowing Americans the opportunity to buy health insurance across state lines. Today the same policy for the same individual can cost twice as much depending upon the state in which he or she resides.
Allowing seniors the option of choosing their own Medicare policy through a premium-support system, a bipartisan idea, is yet another solution.
After Obamacare is eliminated, we must continue to listen to the American people and improve health care in a way that does not allow the government to undermine the patient-doctor relationship, harm job creation or our economy, or hasten our bankruptcy.
I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress, and a new president, to achieve this goal.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Dallas represents the 5th Congressional District and is the chairman of the House Republican Conference and vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He may be contacted through hensarling.house.gov