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Shimkus: Pass Reform Americans Can Afford

Being an opponent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not mean that I oppose affordable health care for Americans nor do I oppose reforms to our nation’s health care delivery system. What I do oppose is a government takeover of our health care system, which I believe this new law leads to.

Implementing the PPACA has had issues from day one, such as covering individuals with pre-existing conditions immediately.

Another example is the recent announcement

by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor regarding the grandfathering provisions of the PPACA. Analysis of the administration’s regulation indicates that if employees like their current coverage, 51 percent of them will not be able to keep their existing policy, breaking the promise made to the American people.

This regulation is being written by Obama administration officials as they implement the PPACA. Could they have written a regulation that would have allowed more employees to keep their current insurance?

Instead they decided that half of all Americans who had health insurance on March 23, 2010, will somehow see changes in their health insurance coverage. Will those people end up in the government exchange or forced into a broken Medicaid system without choice?

Instead of having such uncertainty, I and many of my Republican colleagues have supported legislation that would increase the number of Americans with private health insurance, end prejudices against pre-existing conditions and remove lifetime caps on payments, along with many other reforms that would improve our nation’s health care system.

We have introduced a bill — the Reform Americans Can Afford Act — that would repeal the government takeover of health care and replace it with bipartisan solutions that make positive changes that do not take away anyone’s current insurance. This bill would increase the number of insured and lower costs.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that premiums in 2016 under the Democrats’ proposal to be around $15,000 per year, while under the Republican reforms premiums would cost around $12,000. That same CBO analysis estimated premiums for those without insurance now would rise 10 percent or more under the Democrats’ proposal, while the Republican proposal would reduce premiums in 2016 by at least 5 percent.

Finally, the cost to the federal government alone of this government takeover of health care will be more than a trillion dollars after adding in all the fixes that will surely have to come as this law is implemented ... starting with a physician payment fix that was cited as a cost savings during debate. How ironic.

The president’s goals on health care reform were to lower premiums for families, ensure that Americans who like their plans can keep them, lower health care spending to help reduce the deficit and improve the quality of care. All this would be done without raiding Medicare or increasing taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year.

Day after day and week after week more information comes to light demonstrating the new law’s failure to meet these goals. Republicans have offered an alternative that does not raise taxes nor raid Medicare but does reduce the deficit and the growth in health care spending while most importantly reducing health insurance premiums for families.

I believe a repeal-and-replace strategy is just employing common sense to a law that is already creating uncertainty.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) is ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

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