BILL SHUSTER: Americans fear Obamacare's impact
As we approach the summer months, we get closer and closer to 2014 and the dreaded launch of Obamacare. We still face major uncertainty in how this massive takeover of health care will actually work. Families and small businesses in the 9th Congressional District don’t know what to expect and fear the worst. Half of all Americans say they don’t even understand the law enough to determine how it will impact their family, and it has become blatantly obvious that neither does the Obama administration.
The impacts will be astounding, and not in a good way. Twenty million to 65 million Americans could lose their employer-sponsored health insurance. Those with individual health insurance will see an average premium increase of 32 to 40 percent. That is on top of the average premium increase of $3,065 since Obama’s first term. With numbers like this, I can’t reassure my constituents. I can’t tell them they won’t lose their current plans or see massive increases in their premiums.
The impact on seniors is particularly devastating. Obamacare reduces Medicare Advantage by more than $200 billion to pay for the new entitlement. Pennsylvania’s share of Medicare cuts is $28.2 billion — equal to $11,996 per Pennsylvania retiree. There are more than 870,000 seniors on Medicare Advantage in Pennsylvania; 44,000 in the 9th District.
Almost half of those Pennsylvania seniors on Medicare Advantage will lose it. Those that don’t lose their coverage will see a significant cut. Obamacare will cut $3,637 in Medicare Advantage services for every Pennsylvanian enrolled in the program. That’s a 27 percent cut.
Lastly, 25 percent of Pennsylvania doctors say they will stop accepting new Medicare patients because of the law. Obamacare takes needed funds from our nation’s most vulnerable population and gives nothing back to them in return. Taking away from seniors for a cheap budgeting trick is irresponsible and reckless. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of our seniors.
Obamacare creates government-run health care that gets between the doctor-patient relationship, raises premiums on all Americans, and increases burdensome regulations on small businesses. Obamacare includes 21 new or higher taxes that will cost taxpayers roughly $1.1 trillion over the next decade. Pennsylvania’s share is approximately $50.3 billion.
The excise tax on health insurance premiums will be passed down to individuals in the form of higher premiums — amounting to around $500 for the average Pennsylvania family. Seventy percent of small businesses have cited Obamacare as an obstacle to job creation. How can we expect to lower unemployment and grow our economy while burdening our job creators with impossible requirements?
The president has done nothing to provide certainty or reassurance — he’s done the opposite. At a recent press conference, President Obama said that “even if we do everything perfectly, there’ll still be… glitches and bumps, and there’ll be stories that can be written that say … this thing’s … not working the way it’s supposed to.”
Sen. Max Baucus, the key architect of Obamacare, called it a “train wreck.” This week, Republicans led the charge against Obamacare with a vote on the House floor to fully repeal the bill. H.R. 45 passed, and it is my hope that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid listens to Sen. Baucus, who knows the law better than anyone, and gives the Senate the chance to vote to repeal Obamacare.
Unfortunately, I can expect only more of the same by Democrats, and this bill will never see the light of day on the Senate floor. It’s disheartening to see the Senate refuse to listen to the concerns and will of the American people.
Regardless, I will continue to do everything I can to repeal Obamacare and replace it with reforms that make sense and don’t drag down our economy and burden hardworking Americans.
U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, represents the 9th Congressional District, which includes Indiana County.