Six months later: reality differs from the rhetoric

Rep. Phil Roe Contributor
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Today marks the six-month anniversary of the health care legislation’s passage.  Since its passage, the legislation has not lived up to the promises made by the Democratic Congress and the administration.  The sobering reality of this bad legislation includes the risk of higher costs, rising insurance prices, and the loss of current health plans.  Action must be taken to repeal and fix the aspects of this legislation that will be detrimental to Tennessee and our nation.

As we learn more about the health care law, we find more bad elements tucked away in it, like the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) — a board that has a mandate to meet a budget.  This will harm patient care because the only way to meet a budget is by delaying access to care or denying care altogether.  Ultimately, this bad bill will not only reduce access to care; it will also reduce the quality of care because rationing is inevitable.  This is not what I want, nor is it what the American people want — but the emerging details indicate that is what we’re going to get unless we act soon to change it.

The American people heard so much rhetoric from the President and his administration, especially in the push to get the legislation through Congress.  For example, in April, the President promised this health care legislation “will reduce the deficit by $1 trillion over the next two decades.”  However, recently President Obama’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said that this legislation will increase health care spending by 6.3 percent annually and will cause health care to consume almost 20 percent of our nation’s health care bill.

In June, the President told the American people that this legislation will “cut costs and make coverage more affordable for families and small businesses.” But now we’ve learned that the new law is causing health insurance prices to increase. The Wall Street Journal reported that the health care legislation is causing rates to increase by up to 20 percent for some buyers.  In Connecticut, rates are increasing by 18 percent for small businesses and 14.2 percent for the self-employed, early retirees, and others who buy their own coverage on October 1, 2010.

If you recall, the President repeatedly promised that “if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.” On September 21, 2010, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that next year, 1.2 million seniors will be forced out of the Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan they have currently. In addition, nHealth, a private health insurer, has dropped all its customers because of this legislation and is going out of business.  Additionally, American National Insurance Company will not sell health insurance to early retirees, self-employed workers, and small businesses because of this health care legislation.  Even regulations written by President Obama’s own administration show that up to 80 percent of small businesses may lose their current plans under the new law.

So just six months later, the reality is much different than the rhetoric from the administration and the Democratic Congress.  We have already seen a rise in insurance premiums, we are learning more and more about what the bill will actually cost the American people, and we understand the reality that the taxes levied to pay for this legislation will be harmful to our already fragile economy.  A solution must be found to deal with the effects this health care legislation will have on businesses, families and the economy.  It’s time for the administration and the Democratic leadership to start being honest with the American people so we can start dealing with the challenges we will all face down the road because of this legislation.

Rep. Phil Roe represents Tennessee’s First Congressional District.