Mr. President, on Election Day the American people rebuked the liberal policies of your administration; in your own words, your party suffered a “shellacking.” The GOP picked up more than 60 seats in the House, a historic shift in power the likes of which have not been seen since 1938. Despite the landslide victory, now is not the time for Republicans to gloat or for Democrats to spin the results or place blame. Rather, it is time to show the American people that we heard their voices and get down to business solving the problems that face our nation. One of the biggest problems is the ill-conceived overhaul of our health care system.
As you know, your health care bill passed with zero Republican support. Never in modern American history has such a landmark piece of legislation — which affects nearly every man, woman and child — passed with no votes from the minority party. The people’s message from November 2nd is clear: repeal this bill, hit the reset button, and replace it with a market-based alternative that lowers costs and promotes choice. This is why I will work to make sure that one of the first measures taken by the Republican majority will be to repeal this law.
Rather than use your veto pen or allow Majority Leader Reid to filibuster our efforts in the Senate, I urge you to support our efforts. Understand that it is the responsibility of the new Republican majority to impose the will of the people on this issue. Should you choose to veto an outright repeal, Republicans will use every means possible to dismantle it. Whether through defunding, delaying implementation, weakening it, or removing pieces that will make the whole bill collapse like a game of Jenga, we are going to do everything we can to take it down.
Though we agree that our current system is broken, the “Affordable Care Act” merely compounds existing problems and creates a slew of new ones. The law not only sets a frightening precedent by federally forcing individuals to purchase a private product, it mandates that these products have certain level of benefits, increasing costs. The act also establishes several unelected boards, including the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which will have enormous power over provider reimbursement and ultimately the type of care Americans receive, putting bureaucrats between doctors and their patients. The bill not only authorizes trillions of dollars in new federal spending, it will also break state budgets by forcing them to drastically increase their Medicaid enrollments. This all says nothing of the duplicative spending, state slush funds, and onerous new mandates on struggling small businesses. This all needs to be repealed.
Most alarmingly, the bill allows federal funds to go toward abortion services for the first time ever, which goes against the strong pro-life values that many American taxpayers, including myself, hold dear. In the next Congress, my very top priority will be to make sure that bills authored by my colleagues Joe Pitts and Chris Smith, which ensure that not a dime of taxpayer dollars go toward abortions, pass swiftly through the House.
You said that you would listen to good Republican ideas. Here they are. First, any legislation introduced must truly curtail healthcare-related costs. Recent increases in premiums indicate that the new law has the opposite affect. The increasingly prohibitive cost of healthcare in this country is the main driver behind the lack of access to quality care, and immediate steps need to be taken to reduce costs for individuals to purchase healthcare and providers to practice it. Medical liability reform must be addressed in a significant way, as physicians are forced to bill billions of dollars every year in unnecessary defensive tests and procedures just to avoid lawsuits. Individuals should also be allowed to seek out the best health insurance plans regardless of what state they live in, avoiding expensive plans in high-mandate states if they so choose. We should also enable consumers to have more control over their health expenditures by expanding the use of health savings accounts. We must also provide incentives for employers to provide insurance, not penalize them if they do not, and we should help insurers and employers provide incentives to individuals to adopt healthy lifestyles.
You recently criticized the ugly process that was “necessary” to get the bill through Congress. I absolutely agree with you as do the American people; it was an ugly process that was unbecoming of the Congress. Voters rejected this process on Election Day. They demanded no more vote buying and no more late-night changes to legislation. The new Republican majority will ensure that such tactics end now.
Mr. President, instead of doing hand-to-hand combat on legislation that restructures one-sixth of the U.S. economy and severely hampers the world’s best health care system, let’s repeal it and work together to implement positive, bipartisan reforms. There are plenty of good ideas out there that we can agree on.
Should you refuse to listen to the American people, Congress will find its own way to stop this bill and conduct vigorous oversight to expose it for what it is. I’ll be sure to reserve a special chair for Secretary Sebelius in our hearing room. I anticipate that it will get much use.
Fred Upton represents Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District.