Restoring the oversight our Founding Fathers intended

Rep. Fred Upton Contributor
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It has been six months since the Democrats blatantly defied the will of the American people, turning a deaf ear to the overwhelming opposition to their $2.6 trillion overhaul of our health care system.  For years, health reform dominated the national debate, and across the spectrum, improvements are necessary.  Our current system leaves some individuals with limited or no access to affordable care and leaves employers with concerns over the spiraling costs of providing health coverage to their employees.

Yet, neither the new law nor any proposal allowed for consideration by Speaker Pelosi fixes these significant problems without plunging us even deeper in debt and doing severe damage to the quality of care Americans receive.  Furthermore, Speaker Pelosi commandeered health reform to advance the left’s social agenda. As a result, the law could allow federally subsidized abortions for the first time since the advent of the Hyde Amendment. For me and other pro-life Republicans, this cannot and will not stand.

House Republicans are united in the effort to repeal the overhaul and replace it with thoughtful, commonsense reforms that actually improve access to quality care.

Health reform is sadly just one of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi’s many policies that have suffocated private sector investment and job creation; they must be held accountable at both the ballot box in November and committee hearing rooms soon afterward.

Despite soaring unemployment, the first of a half trillion dollars in new taxes on families and small business have already taken effect. The economy is not improving and American families are hurting. We are at an important crossroads in our history as we head towards November 2nd.

Should Republicans have the good fortune of regaining control of the House, a top priority under the leadership of Speaker Boehner will be dismantling this law, making way for policies that reflect the values and will of the people.  We will also use the power of the gavel to restore the checks and balances established by our Founding Fathers and do what we can to rescue the nation from the full implementation of the overhaul.

The prognosis is troubling.  The administration’s own accountants do not believe the law will fulfill its intended goals. In late April, the CMS Chief Actuary reported that the bill will actually increase costs by $311 billion over 10 years, pushing America’s total health care spending to an alarming $35 trillion. CMS also warned that Medicare cuts could drive 15 percent of hospitals into debt and as many as 50 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees out of their plans.

In July of 2009, President Obama declared (and has repeated numerous times since) to an audience in New Jersey, “Let me be exactly clear about what health care reform means to you.  First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.  Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”

Despite the president’s repeated claims, his own administration is now predicting folks will lose their coverage, as CMS further estimates that 14 million Americans will lose their coverage by 2019 as many employers drop their plans, forcing their employees to purchase plans on the private market or, in some cases, receive benefits through the Medicaid program.  CMS goes on to conclude that, because of the increased costs and reduced incentives for providers contained in the bill, expensive visits to the emergency room are expected to rise as a result of this law. Unfortunately, the Democrat majority has refused to bring Secretary Sebelius or other high-ranking administration officials in to testify on the consequences of this law.  Those officials who were the staunchest supporters of the overhaul have been conspicuously absent since the bill signing.

The Democrat majority has grossly failed to hold the administration accountable. Over 4,100 pages of regulations have been issued since the measure was signed into law and a dozen new regulations were not even subject to any kind of public scrutiny before taking effect.  There have been multiple requests by my Republican colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee for Secretary Sebelius to come testify before us, but our chairman has refused to allow that to happen.

Additionally, Republican members of the House and Senate have sent upwards of 16 letters to the administration on this law since its enrollment. They have gone unanswered. It is shamefully irresponsible for the majority in Congress to allow the administration to implement regulations that affect every American without any legitimate oversight. This represents quite a change of course for Democrats, given their propensity for oversight during the waning days of the Bush administration.

If House Republicans make great gains this November, we must ensure that our oversight subcommittees work round-the-clock to hold the administration accountable. Agencies can no longer be allowed to do what they see fit in passing regulations that inflict severe damage to job growth and the economy. As we work to take this bill apart, we cannot allow the administration to take a wide berth on interpreting bad legislation to make it worse. And we must use our hearing rooms as a forum to let citizens hear straight from the source what this bill will mean to them.

Every two years, the American people hold the House of Representatives accountable for our actions. They trust us to act in their best interest and to provide a check and balance to other branches of government. Unfortunately, time and again the current majority has proven that they are not listening to the peoples’ concerns — all one has to do is look at the electoral landscape in congressional districts throughout the country. Is it arrogance? Tone deafness? Or do they just not care what the devastating consequences are for their legislative stampede? Republicans, on the other hand, have heard the American people loud and clear. We have listened to the public’s concerns and we will have a thoughtful agenda that they can call their own. For two years, Democrats have had the run of the roost without any checks or balances. This November, we have a unique opportunity to restore the necessary oversight that our Founding Fathers envisioned.

Rep. Fred Upton represents Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District.