What's Next for Health Care

Mar 30, 2010

By Tom Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
March 30, 2010

Health care legislation was signed into law only days ago, but the president and congressional leaders are already launching an all-out public relations campaign to convince Americans that we should like what they did. It’s going to be a hard sell. This $950 billion, 2,800-page bill fails to fix what’s broken and risks breaking what works.

Requiring insurance companies and employers that provide health coverage for their employees to add a host of new benefits may sound good. But it will also drive up premiums.

Requiring small businesses to provide insurance that they cannot afford—or else pay steep fines—will eliminate jobs.

Requiring states—which are already running huge deficits—to add millions of new enrollees to Medicaid will lead to taxincreases and program cuts.

Raising taxes by $569 billion as the nation grapples with nearly 10% unemployment and struggles to emerge from a deep recession is an affront to economic common sense.

Much has been made of the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that this legislation will reduce the federal deficit. But supporters of the bill engineered this response by submitting unrealistic assumptions regarding future Medicare savings and by ignoring an expected increase in Medicare physician reimbursements. Future Congresses are unlikely to make good on the cuts and even some of the taxes anticipated in this bill. Thus, its true cost will be closer to $2 trillion at a time when the nation is already drowning in red ink. Bankrupting our children’s future is just not right!

Glitches in the new bill are already popping up. The sweetheart deals that were cut to secure the last votes in the House are coming to light. At least a dozen states are developing legal challenges. The Senate already spent a week debating changes to a bill that was signed just days ago. This is what happens when you rush and ram through such a sweeping piece of legislation.

So what happens next? While some discuss repeal, the U.S. Chamber believes a more effective approach is to work through all available and appropriate avenues—regulatory, legislative, legal, and political—to fix the bill’s flaws and minimize its harmful impacts.

We will strongly encourage citizens to hold their elected officials accountable when they vote this November. And we will continue to promote real health care reform that curbs costs, reins in frivolous lawsuits, expands consumer choice, and removes the heavy hand of government from decisions that should be made by doctors and patients.

Like it or not, the health care debate is not over. Stay tuned!

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