NOTE: "Taken together, these broken promises illustrate why so many Americans continue to support a full repeal - which the new Republican-led House has passed - followed by common-sense reforms that will actually lower costs, improve care, and protect jobs. The fog of controversy has now cleared, but contrary to the confident predictions of some, the contents of this law are even worse than anyone expected. And that's saying something."
Health care law breaks promises
By Mitch McConnell and John Boehner
Cincinnati Enquirer op-ed
March 23, 2011
Throughout the debate over the Democrats' $2.6 trillion government takeover of health care, Americans were concerned that the measure would increase costs, force them off of coverage they like, and make it harder to create new jobs. But Democrats didn't listen. Instead, as the debate ended last March, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi captured the unseemly way in which Washington Democrats jammed the bill through Congress on a party-line vote when she said, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy."
Now that the fog has lifted and a year has passed, what do we know about this law we didn't know then?
We now know that lawmakers who promised that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" were wrong. As one of the Obama Administration's own top health care analysts recently put it, that particular oft-repeated pledge was "not true in all cases," since the new law creates strong incentives for businesses to drop employees from plans they get through their jobs. One recent study suggests as many as 35 million Americans could lose their employer-based health insurance this way. And the administration has already admitted that at least 7 million seniors will lose their Medicare Advantage plans as a result of the new law.
None of this is news to the White House. Shortly after the health spending bill became law, the Department of Labor acknowledged that a significant percentage of employers would not be able to continue offering their current health care coverage. Small businesses would be most affected, with as many as 80 percent of them expected to have to change their coverage to comply with the new law. For all businesses, the administration estimates that somewhere between 39 percent and 69 percent will be forced to change their plans to comply with costly and burdensome new dictates from Washington.
This all adds up to more costs and burdens for employers and small businesses in the middle of a tough economy, at a time when we need to end the uncertainty and help them begin hiring again. According to the independent Congressional Budget Office, the health care law will result in the loss of more than 800,000 jobs over the next 10 years alone. What's more, 200 economists and experts, including two former CBO directors, have stated that the law's "expensive mandates and penalties ... create major barriers to stronger job growth.
Another chief selling point of the health spending law was the promise that it would lower costs. Yet the administration's own top actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Washington now estimates that the law will increase national health care costs by $311 billion. And the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the law will increase federal health care spending by nearly half a trillion dollars over the next decade.
What about the cost to individuals and families? Well, according to the same independent analysts at the CBO, the new law, once fully implemented, is expected to cause premiums on family insurance policies to increase by an average of $2,100 per year.
Meanwhile, other new rules have made it difficult for families to secure child-only health policies they previously enjoyed. The fact that families in 19 states no longer have access to these once-common plans is just one of the many harmful unintended consequences Americans are stuck with now that "fog of controversy" has lifted.
When challenged about these broken promises, the administration has settled on a new refrain. The president likes to say Americans aren't interested in revisiting the debates of the past. No one would accept an answer like that from an electronics store manager who refused to offer a refund on a defective television. Why would they accept it when it comes to their health care?
Taken together, these broken promises illustrate why so many Americans continue to support a full repeal - which the new Republican-led House has passed - followed by common-sense reforms that will actually lower costs, improve care, and protect jobs. The fog of controversy has now cleared, but contrary to the confident predictions of some, the contents of this law are even worse than anyone expected. And that's saying something.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is Senate Minority Leader. Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester, is Speaker of the House.