Weekly Columns

We Must Address the Problems in our Health Care System

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Washington, November 2, 2011 | comments

Our health care system is facing many challenges, which were made worse by the president’s health care law. The price of health care continues to rise, and it is directly threatening our future access to care.  From the rising costs businesses are facing because of the new health care law, to Congress’ neglect to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR), legislation needs to pass that addresses these important issues.  The solution should not include creating new government-run programs, but rather repealing the law and replacing it with legislation that addresses the problems currently in our health care system.

As one of my first actions this Congress, I voted for H.R. 2, which repeals the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.  I have cosponsored legislation, signed a discharge petition to repeal the bill, and am working to write a health care bill through the Republican Study Committee (RSC).  I will do all I can to prevent the implementation of the president’s health care law and will work to ensure the entire bill is repealed and then replaced with patient-centric reform.

As I warned before the health care bill passed, many businesses may decide to stop providing coverage to their employees altogether because the penalties in Obama’s “pay for play” are less than what it would cost these businesses to provide health insurance to their employees.   Already, we’ve seen the president’s administration issue businesses thousands of waivers, which is itself an indictment of how poorly the law was thought out.

By analyzing the budget projections for the president’s health care bill, it was clear that it will lead to dramatic cost increases that will cause unsustainable spending levels that will either force rationing of care or significant tax increases. Unfortunately, we are already witnessing the dramatic rise in cost that is directly affected by his health care entitlement program.  More and more we are hearing that businesses – such as Wal-Mart, who supported the law – are reconsidering the care they provide to its employees.  Wal-Mart recently announced its decision to drop all part-time employees from its health care plan due to dramatic increases in health care costs.

In addition to the problems with the new health care law like the CLASS Act, the “secret shoppers” program, and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), there is a problem with federal health insurance premium assistance tax credits. Proposed IRS regulations regarding these credits contradict the explicit statutory language describing individuals’ eligibility for receipt of these tax credits. Federal administrative agencies like the IRS do not have the authority under our Constitution to propose regulations that contravene the explicit statutory text of dually enacted public laws. Therefore, the proposed rule—allowing individuals enrolled in qualified health plans through a federally operated exchange to receive a tax credit –needs to be amended.  That is why, along with several of my colleagues, I have authored a letter to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Douglas Shulman, asking him to change the proposed rule language. Failure to make such a change will mean legislative action in Congress must be taken.

Last week, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, and I hosted a bipartisan briefing highlighting the broad support for a comprehensive fix to the flawed SGR formula.  The years of kicking the can down the road without finding a solution for the broken payment system are over because it has resulted in a failed system. If Congress does not fix the SGR and create a clear path forward, in January, physicians will face a 29.5 percent cut in their payment.  A cut of this magnitude would leave many, if not most, Medicare patients without access to physicians.  Fixing the SGR is something Congress must do in order to bring stability to our medical system.

Along with these fixes to our health care system, we must also continue to support and promote ways to educate individuals about health care issues. For example, this week I introduced a resolution in Congress that would bring awareness to those affected by heart disease. Specifically, this resolution encourages individuals to seek training on how to properly administer CPR and how to use automated external deliberators (AEDs).

It is vital that Congress works to keep the pressure on the Senate and the president to repeal this legislation – whether all at once or piece-by-piece. We must also work together to repeal the SGR because our country is facing an access to care crisis. These issues are too important to ignore, and Congress must act to fix them.

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