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EDITORIAL: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Under Review

Martha Roby

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By U.S. Representative Martha Roby

This week the Supreme Court will conclude oral arguments over President Obama’s health care reform law. The key legal question is whether the Constitution grants the federal government the power to force individuals to purchase health insurance. In my view, the answer is no.

But even if the Court upholds the law, serious problems will remain. In 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Congress to quickly pass the health care bill “so that [we] can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.” Two years later, consider what we’ve found:

  • The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office now estimates that the law will cost $1.76 trillion. That is double the original price, which was based on budget gimmicks designed to hide the true cost.
  • The CBO also reports that as many as 20 million Americans may lose their existing coverage because of the law, a finding that stands in stark contrast to President Obama’s repeated promise that, “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”
  • Provisions tucked inside the law give the Administration unprecedented power, such as the authority to require religious institutions to provide contraceptives to their employees, even when doing so violates the employers’ beliefs.
  • New estimates indicate that the law will cost 800,000 jobs, not create 400,000 jobs as Pelosi claimed. Many small business owners in Alabama have delayed hiring out of fear of the law’s burdensome regulations.

Budget gimmicks and broken promises undermine Americans’ trust in government, and public opposition to the 400,000-word health care law was a driving force behind the Republican takeover of the House in 2010. Since then, we have voted 26 times to repeal the law, block its individual provisions, or defund its programs.

For example, last week we voted to remove the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Under the president’s plan, the 15-member Board, unelected and handpicked by President Obama, will soon be authorized to ration Medicare services for seniors. Even our veterans are not immune because TRICARE reimbursement rates are tied directly to Medicare.

Doctors and hospital operators in our area tell me that the Board’s unprecedented control could have “disastrous affects” on patients in our area, and could “result in a loss of essential services” on which seniors rely. That must not happen.

We’ll have to wait until June for the Court’s historic decision. Until then, the House should continue to push for repeal of this massive, government-run health care scheme, while also making the case for market-based solutions that truly control cost, increase access, and improve the quality of medical care for Americans. I hope our colleagues in the Senate will join us in that effort.

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