Texans must continue to oppose federal health care reform By State Representative Charles “Doc” Anderson
Texans must continue to oppose federal health care reform
By State Representative Charles “Doc” Anderson
With the U.S. House of Representatives ready to consider the health care reform legislation that was passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve, Texans must again make their voices heard in opposition to this misguided government takeover of the American health care system.
The current debate over health care reform, and those pushing for this overreaching change, have failed to convince the American public that their plan is an effective way to provide health coverage for the estimated 46 million Americans who are currently uninsured. There are more effective alternative measures to improve our healthcare delivery system, in both access and cost containment.
At its core, the current legislative proposal is not innovative at all. With the goal of providing health coverage to the estimated 46 million Americans who are currently uninsured, “reform” advocates have reverted to the tried and failed tax-and-spend approach that has already driven Medicaid and Medicare to the brink of bankruptcy; Social Security is a fiscal wreck for the same reason.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the cost of the coverage expansions under the proposed legislation passed by the Senate will be $196 billion per year by 2019. This cost is projected to grow by 8 percent per year during the subsequent decade. The bulk of the cost consists of health insurance exchange subsidies, expanded eligibility for Medicaid, and tax credits for employers. Despite these tremendous expenditures, CBO analysis suggests that 24 million non-elderly individuals will remain uninsured in 2019.
Placing the federal government directly in the center of our health care system ignores the lessons learned in a host of other industries: the government cannot provide services at a lower cost than the private sector without significant taxpayer subsidization. Has Congress really forgotten about Amtrak –not to mention the already failed experiments in government-run health care?
Ultimately, the legislation will result in a new generation of Americans who are entirely reliant on the government and taxpayers for their health care coverage, increasing the strain on state coffers . In Texas, Medicaid costs have exploded in recent years, growing from $11.1 billion in 1999 to $24.5 billion in 2009. This is especially alarming given that these increases took place in relatively good economic times (unemployment averaged 5.03 percent in that period). Medicaid already accounts for 15 percent of the state budget, and is directly responsible for crowding out spending on much-needed budget items such as infrastructure improvements.
However, perhaps the most worrisome aspect of the proposed legislation is the financial penalty that would be imposed on individuals or businesses that do not purchase health insurance. The legislation’s emphasis on penalizing those who do not comply betrays its intent to place the federal government at the center of our nation’s health care system at the expense of individual choice and liberty, free enterprise, and competition.
This approach ignores the reality that some individuals may not wish to purchase health insurance and that it may be unaffordable for some businesses to do so. Indeed, of 46 million Americans considered uninsured, 33 percent (or 15 million) are people who earn over 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level or are childless adults aged 18-35. Ultimately, many of these folks simply choose not to purchase health insurance or choose to spend their income on other things. Either way, taxpayers should not have to pick up the health care tab for these groups.
The current health care reform plan is clearly wrong for our country and wrong for our state. With Congressional leadership attempting to force this legislation through, people must stay engaged and continue to voice their opposition. Since the legislation will still require Congressional action, all members of Texas’ Congressional delegation have an important role to play in opposing the health care reform plan.
Doc Anderson Represents House District 56
in the Texas Legislature, comprising part of McLennan County.