Rep. Tom Cole
Special to The Sun
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
The Affordable Care Act remains vastly unpopular across the country, and problems with the program continue to be revealed. These realities could actually prevent the president’s healthcare law from going into effect at the start of this year. On January 1, those enrolled for coverage under Obamacare became eligible to receive it. But the days ahead are likely to uncover more insurmountable problems for patients, doctors, employers and insurers.
The president sold his healthcare overhaul by making promises he knew couldn’t be kept and never intended to keep. We remember his notorious assurance before and after passage, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” His rhetoric, however convincing, can’t change the fact that few Americans will get to keep their doctors or coverage. Despite the law’s promise to provide “affordable care,” the cost will rise for most individuals, either through higher premiums and deductibles, new taxes and fees or penalties for not signing up.
It’s not just patients who get a bad deal from this law. Doctors also will be punished and short-changed. Many predict coverage under Obamacare to be much like Medicaid, in which doctors do not receive adequate payment for the quality care provided, due to low reimbursement rates. They also will stop seeing many of their regular patients, whose health history and conditions have been followed for years; this hurts both patients and doctors.
Additionally, because of the delay of the business mandate, businesses were given temporary relief from having to purchase insurance for their employees. But this doesn’t fix the problem of higher premiums for small businesses. Health insurers are now faced with an annual fee that is intended to help fund subsidies. Rather than make insurance more affordable, however, this new tax on insurers likely will be passed to the consumer in the form of higher premiums. The Washington Post explained, “In total, the tax will shake insurers of $8 billion next year and about $100 billion over the next decade, and that alone is expected to drive up insurance costs by around 2 or 2.5 percent for small employers.” Higher premiums hurt small businesses, damages the job market and stunts economic growth. When companies experience increases in one area, they are forced to cut back elsewhere, stalling innovation, job growth and economic recovery.
The more Obamacare is implemented, the more we recognize that it is a defective program. Since passage, House Republicans have listened to the opinions of the American people and have voted more than 40 times to repeal the law partially or completely. While seven of the partial-repeal bills have become law, most efforts have been ignored by the Senate and condemned by the president.
In the days ahead, I hope that we can find ways to work with the president to prevent some of its harm to the American people. Otherwise, the law will continue to be an unwelcome reality that wreaks havoc on our nation.
U.S. REP. TOM COLE, R-Moore, represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.