Friday marks the second anniversary of President Obama’s health-care bill being signed into law. At the time the president claimed, “When I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform." He was unfortunately correct. The reality of the law has been painful.
The past two years have illustrated how many people will be hurt by the law, not helped. Many of my constituents remain angry they will be forced to purchase health insurance or pay a fine, while businesses have expressed fears they will not be able to sustain the extra costs associated with the law and its mandates, further crippling our nation’s economy. But even amongst all these concerns, it may be our seniors who are the real victims under the president’s health-care law.
According to the economists at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, unless changes are made, Medicare will face insolvency in 10 years. Yet instead of strengthening the program which millions of seniors and disabled Americans rely on, Obama’s law will speed up its demise by cutting $500 billion that would have been spent on Medicare to finance new entitlement programs.
The president’s hand-picked 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board is even more troubling. Its purpose is to control future Medicare spending so that if Medicare grows beyond what is sustainable, the board has the power to recommend cuts. Right now, efforts to repeal the power of this group of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are under way and receiving strong bipartisan support.
Access to quality care for seniors is a top priority. According to the American Medical Association, one in three primary care doctors already limit the number of new Medicare patients they take on due to cost. Once the law is fully enacted, CMS estimates that about 15 percent of Medicare Part A providers will become unprofitable and drop out entirely, leaving seniors with fewer options.
On top of rationing seniors’ benefits, the government wants to charge them more to do it. The president’s law has already raised Part D premiums, which provide prescription drug coverage, by 4 percent for 17 million seniors so that 400,000 low-income senior beneficiaries will have their coverage paid in full. By 2019, the premium will be raised to 9 percent, according to projections from the Congressional Budget Office.
It should come as no surprise then that almost 60 percent of our country’s seniors have an unfavorable view of the law. It’s clear that the law will negatively affect our nation’s older population, but it doesn’t stop there. When signed into law, the Congressional Budget Office projected it would cost $940 billion. Now according to a new recent CBO projection the health care law will cost $1.76 trillion. We can only wonder what such projections mean for the future of Medicare and our grandchildren.
Bottom line: The president’s health care law makes it harder for seniors to get the medical care they need while simultaneously dumping an unsustainable debt on future generations. Both seniors and their grandchildren have a right to be concerned over this failed program. That’s why I remain committed to repealing the burdensome, costly and cumbersome law while championing common-sense and patient-centered health care reforms in its place.
I believe health-care decisions should be made by patients, families and their doctors, not by bureaucrats in Washington who are burdening seniors and future generations with less choice, fewer services and more debt.
- U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, represents the 7th Congressional District, which includes Jackson County.