Dispatch from DC
A Taxing Decision on Health Care
By U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold most of the Administration’s health care law is disappointing, but with the vast majority of Americans voicing deep misgivings about the law, the debate is far from over. In fact, the Court made a point of writing that while the law is constitutional, it was not deciding on its fairness or wisdom. The qualms about the law have grown as Americans have learned more about how it will affect them and affect the economy. The law contains over $500 billion in new taxes, cuts nearly $500 billion out of the Medicare program to fund a new government entitlement and puts the federal government between patients and their doctors.
The American people do not want this law. American business does not want this law. And quality American health care cannot survive this law – at least not as we know it.
The Supreme Court made one thing very clear: this is a tax. As the majority said, it was not ruling on fairness, or the wisdom of health care policy, but on the power of Congress to levy taxes. At a time when many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, hitting them with a massive tax is indefensible.
When the health care law is fully implemented, most Americans won’t be able to keep the coverage they have now. Their health care choices will be made for them in Washington, D.C., and there will also be new regulations to disrupt the doctor-patient relationship.
Businesses are struggling too. A Gallup poll in February asked small businesses why they aren’t hiring, and nearly half of the respondents said it was because they are worried about potential health care costs. Another survey released this year, by the US Chamber of Commerce, found that 74 percent of small-business respondents say the health care law has made hiring more difficult.
If you own a business and don’t buy government-approved health insurance for your employees, health care reform imposes a new tax. If business owners want to grow their business and hire new employees, health care reform imposes costly federal regulations if their payroll exceeds 50 workers.
When given the choice between creating new jobs or facing unprecedented levels of federal regulation and higher taxes, the smart money is on businesses freezing hiring. America cannot afford that kind of stagnation in an already faltering recovery, and the 23 million unemployed and underemployed Americans simply cannot wait for a light at the end of the tunnel.
And then there is the cost to America’s health care system. This law puts government between doctor and patient. It allows unelected bureaucrats to decide who gets what treatment and how. It delivers a blow to the foundation of our system: the cutting-edge research and technology, and access to new drugs, treatments and technologies that are the hallmark of American innovation.
This law does not address the very real issues in our health care system. It imposes growth-killing taxes on job creators and a financial burden on American families. It inserts government between doctors and patients and takes away patient choice. The process by which it was built was opaque and the American people’s voices were not heard.
Republicans in Congress want a common-sense, step-by-step approach to health care reform that is transparent and that respects the will of the American people, who have said again and again that they do not approve of this law. We want an approach that is fair and economically responsible. We want a plan that does not burden small businesses, that does not create more innovation-restricting red tape and that does not try to make Americans’ medical decisions for them.
The solution is for Congress to repeal the law, and start over with common-sense, step-by-step health care reform that Americans want and need – reforms that build on the strengths of our health care system, increase quality and choice, and lower costs. I hope the President and my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle will listen to our constituents, and work together on practical, sensible reforms.
Hutchison, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Texas.
Story filed under: West Texas Talk