Health-care reform: Start over
On Wednesday, President Obama intends to pull out all the stops on his health-care proposal. It's my belief that such an all-out effort is viewed as necessary by the administration because a recent Zogby International poll said that one in every three Americans believes the health-care bill should be scrapped and that Congress should start over.
The president's current proposal as it stands is riddled with problems. Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed during the White House health-care summit that the bill "will create 4 million jobs, 400,000 jobs almost immediately." Yet, according to a model developed by Christina Romer, President Obama's chief economic adviser, the $729.5 billion in tax increases proposed by the House bill (HR 3962 ) will destroy 5 million jobs.
The Senate and House bills also contain an employer mandate, requiring employers to provide health insurance to full and part-time employees. Under HR 3962, if the employer chooses or cannot afford to offer coverage, small employers with a payroll as low as $500,000 will be hit with payroll tax as high as 8 percent. This means regardless of whether a small business makes a profit, it will be subject to this payroll tax.
Moreover, according to an analysis by Harvard Professor Kate Baicker, such a tax would place millions "at substantial risk of unemployment." The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has also issued a report noting that the cost of such new mandates and taxes would be passed on to workers in the form of lower wages. In other words, a pay-or-play tax on jobs, in addition to destroying jobs, would drain the paychecks of low-income workers who are most in need of additional purchasing power.
It is also pretty clear that health care costs will still go up under the White House proposal. The CBO has already indicated that the Senate bill, which is the foundation for the president's own proposal, or as White House Healthcare Reform Director Nancy Ann DeParle said was "the Senate bill with targeted changes," would raise individual health insurance premiums by an average of $2,100 for every family.
How the president believes that increasing health-care premiums will actually end up covering more of the uninsured is unclear. Moreover, while Senate Democrats crow about how the Senate-passed legislation will reduce the deficit by $131 billion over 10 years, it is important to put such seemingly large numbers into context. This number is in fact less than federal deficit from last month.
Families often face difficult medical care choices and decisions and it is easy to wish for a miracle solution, particularly during these difficult economic times, but such government solutions always come at the price of liberty and freedom and the right of individuals to choose for themselves. It may sound nice to be promised free health insurance, but do you want to give up your private health insurance and put a federal bureaucrat in charge of your personal health care?
Americans should have the freedom to choose their own health-care alternatives. They should have a consumer-driven system that allows for "universal access" to quality health care with little interference from the federal government. For that reason, I am a co-sponsor of HR 3400 , the Empowering Patients First Act. This legislation:
- makes access to coverage affordable for all Americans;
- makes coverage truly owned and controlled by the patient;
- improves the health-care delivery structure; and
- reins in out-of-control costs, including through robust liability reform.
There is no doubt that we need to get a handle on the cost of health care in this country. But President Obama's proposal will only increase health-care costs, drive our country further into debt and take decisions about your health out of your hands and into those of Washington bureaucrats. The American public has said loud and clear that they do not want a massive government takeover of health care. It's just that the Democrats don't seem to be listening.
Todd Akin, R-Town & Country, represents Missouri's second congressional district. To reach Voices authors, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.