DUFFY COLUMN: WHY I VOTED TO REPEAL
Earlier this week, the House of Representatives voted 245-189 to repeal the healthcare reform law that was enacted last year. When I campaigned for this office, I promised you, the voters, that I would get behind a movement to either “reform the reform” or “repeal and replace” the healthcare law. Why? Because I believe that this law is simply too costly and does not address the real issue in health insurance: the escalating costs.
While supporters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) say it will decrease healthcare costs, the reality is that it does the exact opposite. The true cost of this law is $1.2 trillion but much of that cost is hidden, thanks to budget gimmicks and questionable accounting. For example, the law takes in 10 years worth of tax revenue but it’s only enough for six years of services. When calculating the costs, proponents of the law leave out the nearly $115 billion taxpayers will pay just to set up and administer the new law and hire, for example, thousands of new IRS agents to enforce the mandates. An estimated $521 billion is counted as savings to lower the deficit, but the same dollars are also counted as covering the new spending of the law. And $208 billion will be spent on the “doc fix” that was initially included in PPACA but later removed in an effort to make the cost of the law look smaller. Altogether, this law amounts to over $700 billion in deficit spending over the next decade and would send our national debt spiraling out of control.
None of the flaws with the new healthcare law should diminish the reality that we do need healthcare reform in this country and there are parts of the healthcare law that I support, such as ensuring access to health coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions, as well as lifting lifetime coverage caps. I was never an advocate of simply repealing. But I believe that the way forward is a market-based, patient-centered healthcare reform, and I have consistently advocated for a “repeal and replace” movement and that is precisely what the U.S. House has embarked on.
Over the next few months, we will craft replacement legislation that includes bipartisan input—something the healthcare bill enacted last year did not have. Some have criticized my vote as a contradiction of what I campaigned on because an alternative measure was not immediately in place. However, if Republicans in the House simply repealed PPACA and inserted a purely Republican alternative—we would have been guilty of imposing the same kind of one-party solution that we have been decrying. With the “repeal” portion over and the process of “replace” beginning, we have an opportunity to build commonsense, bipartisan reform that will truly bring costs down and increase access.
Together, we can address this difficult and complicated issue and enact solutions that I believe are critically needed: forcing insurance companies to actually compete by allowing the sale of health insurance across state lines (much like car insurance currently is), portability, price transparency, tax parity, lifting lifetime coverage caps and allowing those who have pre-existing conditions to obtain coverage. The hard work is just beginning. Let’s get it done.