Enter your email address to signup for Barrasso's Newsletter
‘Obamacare’ not helping patients
By: Sen. John Barrasso & Sen. Tom Coburn
March 20, 2012
President Barack Obama signed his health care bill into law two years ago.
Based on our combined 50 years of practicing medicine, we warned at the time that his health care law would be bad for patients, bad for providers and bad for taxpayers. The law focused on some of the symptoms in our health care system but failed to address the underlying disease.
As the Obama administration began implementing its overhaul, we continued examining the data and the conclusions of nonpartisan experts, including the Congressional Budget Office and the Congressional Research Service. We have compiled our findings into a new oversight report about the law’s negative side effects.
We found fewer choices, higher taxes, more government and less innovation.
We found that government loans to set up insurance cooperatives could be the Solyndra of health care — with taxpayers standing to lose $1 billion on bad loans.
A board of 15 unelected, unaccountable government bureaucrats will control the care seniors get through Medicare. New analysis now shows Medicare cuts and tax hikes will pay for a research institute whose findings could be used to deny care.
We found that American families are paying higher premiums than they did when the law passed.
If all this were not enough, the law’s costs continue to soar. Expanding health insurance coverage will cost at least $1.76 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the CBO. That’s double what the president said his entire program would cost.
The president and Democrats in Congress made specific promises to sell their health care plan. Over the past two years, the evidence in our report shows they have not kept their word.
For example, Obama promised, “If you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.”
Now the Obama administration admits that most employers — including up to 80 percent of small businesses — will have to give up the plans they offer their workers.
Senior citizens will lose access to Medicare Advantage plans that millions of them have and like. Only half as many people will be on these plans by 2017, according to one study.
The president also pledged that no American families earning less than $250,000 a year “will see any form of tax increase.” However, our report identifies 18 separate tax hikes in his health care law.
We found that nearly all of these tax increases are likely to be passed directly to consumers, effectively breaking the president’s pledge.
These include tax hikes on high-value health plans held by many police officers and firefighters. Americans with large medical bills will also face a direct tax hike, since the threshold for deducting medical expenses will jump from 7.5 percent to 10 percent.
All told, the Congressional Budget Office reported, the new taxes added up to $800 billion over the next 10 years.
We warned during the health care debate that the president was engaged in one of the most dramatic attacks on individual liberty in a generation. Our report uncovered substantial evidence that we were right.
A new analysis by the Congressional Research Service concluded that, under the law, about two-thirds of all health care in this country will be funded by the government by 2014.
Beyond the cost, the health care law included the unconstitutional mandate that all Americans buy health insurance whether they want it or not. It also gave sweeping new powers to the secretary of Health and Human Services to regulate nearly every element of our health care. HHS is now turning out those rules — hundreds of pages at a time.
Our report explores these and other side effects of Obama’s health care law. After two years, the facts about the law speak for themselves.
As Republican senators, we support real health care reform that puts patients first and preserves individual choice.
As physicians, we know firsthand that we cannot go back to the system we had before. We believe that we can — and we must — fix what was not working in our health care system.
However, an honest solution cannot be built on a failing law.
Real reform starts with repealing the health law and then replacing it with solutions that really lower costs, increase coverage, empower patients and reduce government interference.
Only then can Congress help Americans receive the care they need, from the doctor of their choice, at a price they can afford.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) serves on the Senate Finance Committee.