Health reforms are bad for state

By: U.S. Representative Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)

One year ago today, the President signed into law the “Affordable Care Act,” commonly referred to as ObamaCare. The policies and regulations resulting from this act are among the most overreaching added to the United States Code in modern history.

This law jeopardizes care for the elderly, compromises the beliefs of pro-life Americans, penalizes job creators, limits states’ flexibility under Medicaid, and results in job losses.

Bad for seniors. A conservative analysis of the “Affordable Care Act” reports that the number of Mississippians with Medicare Advantage will decrease 48 percent by 2017. Further, these individuals will experience an average annual benefits reduction of $3,374 per enrollee. Congress must protect seniors’ health programs and guarantee the solvency of this federal entitlement.

Bad for families. This law lacks comprehensive language prohibiting federal funding for abortion procedures. I recently supported a proposal in the Energy and Commerce Committee which ensures that nothing in the “Affordable Care Act” allows anyone implementing the law – including states – to require “coverage of, access to, or training in abortion services.”

Bad for employers. The “Affordable Care Act” saddles small businesses with onerous new tax increases and mandates, and requires employers with 50 or more workers to pay a $2,000 fine per employee who is not on the company’s health plan. During a time when nearly one in ten Mississippians is unemployed, Congress should be offering incentives for entrepreneurs to invest in Mississippi’s economy as opposed to burdening them with additional taxes and rules.

Bad for states. This act implements a one-size-fits-all maintenance of effort (MOE) provision that restricts states from changing their Medicaid programs. As a result, our state’s Medicaid rolls could increase by 400,000 enrollees, meaning one in three Mississippians would participate in this federal-state health program, costing Mississippi an additional $1.7 billion over the next 10 years. I favor efforts to provide states with the flexibility they need to manage their diverse health programs.

Bad for jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan scorekeeper for Congress, estimates that 800,000 jobs will be lost as a result of this law’s increased marginal tax rates, which they note, “will also discourage work.” The best way to get people back in the workplace is to shrink the size of the federal government and end the uncertainty facing job creators.

Make no mistake; I believe that individuals with pre-existing health conditions should have access to care. Also, if you change your job, you and your family should be able to keep your health insurance. These are simple solutions that both parties of Congress could have agreed to adopt.

But instead of advancing a bill that focuses on access to care, protects the patient-doctor relationship and lowers health care premiums through increased competition and choice, the President signed a $1.445 trillion law that reduces seniors’ Medicare benefits $523 billion and raises taxes $569 billion.

The so-called “Affordable Care Act” is nothing short of politics above economics. This is why I supported the repeal of this flawed law and voted to replace it with reforms centered on decreasing costs and protecting middle-class jobs.

A Republican representing the Third District of Mississippi, Gregg Harper serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.