In this column, U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Hebron, says Congress needs to slow down on health-care reform because current proposals are greatly flawed. Following is the full text of that column.
On July 31st, the House of Representatives adjourned for the August district work period without voting on H.R. 3200, the so-called America’s “Affordable” Health Choices Act. President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set a deadline for the House to pass health reform legislation before adjourning for the August break. Unfortunately, the draft produced by House Democratic leaders is so flawed that in recent weeks more than fifty House Democrats openly questioned the design of the bill and expressed the need for significant changes.
Congressman Allen Boyd (D-FL) said, “Many of us think we should scrap [H.R.3200] and start over” (Roll Call, July 20, 2009). Forty Blue Dog Democrats wrote to Speaker Pelosi outlining their concerns that the current bill is fiscally irresponsible, punitive to small business, does not adequately reform the delivery system, does not sufficiently protect rural communities and is not bipartisan. Twenty-two freshman Democrats also joined together to warn Democratic leaders of their concerns with the job killing tax increases on small businesses in the bill. In a statement declaring his intent to vote against the legislation, Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL) said, “The cost of the bill is too expensive a burden during a time of trillion dollar deficits, and the results, which could still leave over ten million individuals uninsured, are too uncertain” (Politico, July 31, 2009).
As more people review H.R. 3200, it becomes obvious why the bill causes so much distress for Democrats and Republicans in Congress and across America. This bill will cost more than one trillion dollars, it will raise taxes by a whopping $818 billion and it still increases the deficit by $239 billion just in the first ten years.
These tax increases will have a devastating impact on small businesses nationwide and could force employers to eliminate more than five million jobs at a time when Kentucky’s unemployment rate is nearing eleven percent. The bill also cuts about $500 billion from Medicare to pay for the dozens of new government programs created by H.R. 3200. That includes a $156 billion cut to the Medicare Advantage program that ensures seniors, especially those in rural areas, have access to health care providers. That provision alone could jeopardize coverage for 18,644 seniors in Kentucky’s Fourth District who are enrolled in these plans.
The President promised the American people that they can keep their current coverage if they like it. However, not only does H.R. 3200 jeopardize coverage for every Medicare Advantage beneficiary, it fundamentally changes the rules for the employer-sponsored health insurance that currently covers about 177 million Americans. Current predictions suggest that between 88 million and 114 million people could see their current employer-sponsored health plan disappear under H.R. 3200.
H.R. 3200 also prohibits health insurance companies from enrolling any new customers outside of the government-run Exchange, which will quickly decimate the individual private insurance market. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 171,941 Kentuckians currently purchase their insurance on the individual market.
Americans deserve a better bill with real reform that can be enacted at a price our country can afford. You can read more about the health care reform debate and alternative proposals by visiting http://www.GeoffDavis.house.gov/Healthcare. Your input is important to this process; please continue to email me through the website or call any of our offices with your thoughts on the current reform debate.