WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today issued the following statement after voting for H.R. 2, a bill to repeal the health care law enacted in 2010:
“The most pressing issue facing our health care system is the crisis of cost. When visiting communities in our area, I hear frustration from local residents about rising premiums, the cost of medical services and prescription drugs, and their inability to choose between different insurance plans because the individual market is too expensive. When I meet with employers, particularly small businesses, I find they are struggling to keep up with the escalating cost of employee health care. When I speak with state legislators, they share serious concerns about the growing percentage of state resources dedicated to health care spending. When I analyze our federal budget, I see the dramatic impact of health care entitlement spending.
“Today, I voted to repeal the misguided health care law of 2010, which is seriously flawed in its structure and practical implementation. Tomorrow, I will support a House resolution that directs several committees to produce practical and effective reforms that will lower health care costs, expand access to affordable insurance coverage and foster job growth. I support health care reform and believe all Americans should have access to affordable health insurance. Unfortunately, the legislation enacted last year raises health care costs for most Americans, increases spending by state and federal governments, jeopardizes the coverage of those who are happy with their current plan, and stifles needed economic growth. The law enacted in 2010 is simply unwise and unsustainable.
“Most problematic, the new law will increase health care costs for American families and seniors, whose budgets have been stretched precariously thin by the economic downtown. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the premiums for millions of families will increase by as much as $2,100 by 2016. Under the law, seniors will pay as much as 20 percent more for their Medicare Part D prescription drug premium.
“Many of the law’s strongest supporters in Washington vow it will help reduce our nation’s growing deficit. However, these claims are based on misleading budget gimmicks and deceptive accounting practices. For example, the law imposes 10 years worth of taxes to fund only 6 years of programming. The Office of the Actuary for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) found that health costs will rise by an added $310.8 billion over the next 10 years as a result of the law. Moreover, the CBO’s long-term budget outlook acknowledges that most of the major savings provisions in the law are either “widely expected” to be scaled back or would “be difficult to sustain for a long period.” Rather than reductions, this will naturally lead to significant increases in the federal deficit.
“Under the law, access to care will be jeopardized and many Americans who are currently satisfied with their plans will not be able to keep them. The law includes more than $200 billion in cuts to payments for hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies. The CMS Actuary estimates those cuts could cause roughly 15 percent of Medicare Part A providers to become unprofitable and drop out of Medicare, “possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries.” Over time, the Actuary estimates 40 percent of providers may withdraw from offering services to Medicare enrollees. While nearly 20 million Americans would gain coverage under the Medicaid program, the Actuary cautioned “it is reasonable to expect that a significant portion of the increased demand for Medicaid would be difficult to meet, particularly over the first few years.” Furthermore, half of all Americans who have insurance through their employer and two-thirds of workers in small businesses will be at risk of losing their current coverage by 2013.
“Finally, the law impedes economic growth. There are more than half a trillion dollars in new taxes included in the statute, many of which will impact small business owners and middle-income households. Specifically, $210 billion in new payroll taxes will reduce investment and hamper growth. Additionally, the law includes a mandate that imposes a penalty on employers that cannot afford to purchase health insurance for their employees, which CBO found will “cause some employers to respond by hiring fewer low-wage workers.”
“I believe we must replace the misguided policies of the current law with reforms that will address rising health care costs. Specifically, I support medical liability reforms to reduce the practice of defensive medicine. I believe Congress must provide Americans with more options for affordable health coverage, such as low-cost catastrophic plans for younger individuals, patient-driven Health Savings Accounts (HSA), cross state purchasing, and effective high risk pools or reinsurance models as a backstop. We must enact real payment reforms that focus on quality rather than quantity, and provide greater flexibility for employers to reward employees who adopt healthier lifestyles. I also support advancing medical innovation and enhancing health information technology to make care more effective and efficient. Finally, we must aggressively fight waste, fraud and abuse.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues during the 112th Congress to enact these sensible policies that will reduce costs, expand access and support economic growth.”