Today marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of President Obama’s job-killing health care bill, but Americans are still waiting for something about this bill to celebrate. Last year, Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats heralded the 2,000-page bill as the solution for decreasing health care costs, creating jobs and reducing our deficit. They chose to ignore the concerns and opposition of the American people and rammed Obamacare through Congress without a single Republican vote, claiming we had to “pass the bill to find out what was in the bill.”
Well, one year later, the American people are still waiting to see how it solves our problems. The promise that this bill would help our economy were false — the director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office testified before the House Budget Committee that Obamacare would actually cost the economy 800,000 full-time jobs. The law also imposes $569.2 billion in tax increases, including taxes that will directly increase the cost of health care goods and services.
The health care reform law actually does very little to improve the health care system in the United States. While Democrats promised more affordable health care, a November letter from the Congressional Budget Office to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) confirmed that Obamacare would actually increase prescription drug costs. The president’s claim that “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it” has proven false, as provisions that will ultimately mean a reduction in Medicare benefits and the loss of employer-provided health care take effect.
As chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, I am particularly concerned with the impact Obamacare has on entrepreneurs. Small businesses create seven of every ten new jobs and employ half of the country’s private-sector workforce. The growth of these small firms is the answer to our long-term unemployment problem and it is imperative that we create an economic environment in which they can thrive. Unfortunately, Obamacare does just the opposite.
Obamacare and its overreaching mandates will be particularly detrimental to small businesses. Starting in 2014, employers will be forced to provide health care coverage that adheres to government standards or face a penalty. This provision, known as the employer mandate, stands to impact nearly 220,000 small firms employing more than 26 million workers. Additionally, most small businesses are not eligible for the complicated, temporary health care tax credit that Democrats promise will help businesses afford coverage, and those that are eligible may only qualify for part of the maximum credit. On top of all this, Obamacare’s 1099 mandate creates mountains of unnecessary paperwork for small businesses, which will lead to increased costs and decreased productivity.
Interestingly enough, over 1,000 companies and unions have received waivers from some of these job-crushing mandates. Yesterday I sent a letter to the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting a detailed explanation about the fairness, criteria and process for granting these waivers. At a time when Washington should be focused on removing barriers to job creation, the Department of Health and Human Services shouldn’t be unfairly picking who is oppressed by Obamacare’s costs and burdensome requirements and who gets a pass.
In January, House Republicans took an important step toward getting the economy moving again and bringing real change to the American health care system by voting to repeal Obamacare. While the Senate did not follow suit, I want to use this one-year anniversary to assure you that my Republican colleagues and I remain committed to this important goal. I hope that President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate will join us as we work to replace Obamacare with health care reform legislation that truly reduces costs and helps get our economy back on track.
Rep. Sam Graves represents Missouri’s Sixth Congressional District. He is the chairman of the Small Business Committee.