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U.S. National Debt:

Health Care Law: A Year Older And None The Wiser

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

March 23 marks the first anniversary of the health care law that is failing to achieve the results, including control of health care costs and better access to quality care, Americans sought and deserve.  Instead, the law continues to deepen our nation's unsustainable deficit and debt, results in higher premiums for consumers and business owners and persists in stifling job growth.    


Rather than restraining health care costs, the health care law worsens our national debt, now more than $14.2 trillion.  According to a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, the increasing costs of mandatory health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, will contribute to rapidly growing budget deficits and federal debt.  Further, CBO found Medicare spending will roughly double over the next ten years,  spending for the Medicare and Medicaid programs combined will climb from 5.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) today to 11 percent of GDP by 2035 and rising health care spending per person will continue to drive up federal spending.  


Additionally, the law is growing the government, not private sector jobs.  Full implementation of the health care law is estimated to cost $2.6 trillion.  In February, the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) reported that implementing the health care law would require additional resources and requested a more than $1 billion increase in taxpayer dollars and an increase of more than 5,000 full-time employees, some of which would be for implementing the health care law.  For example, the IRS is seeking a more than $11 million increase and 81 additional full-time employees to promote compliance with the excise tax on indoor tanning, created through the health care law.  This is the wrong type of growth that the American people have clearly indicated is unwanted. 


The $552 billion in tax increases and $50 billion worth of employer mandates imposed in the law are making it more difficult for small businesses to create jobs.  In January, the Heritage Foundation reported that the new tax hikes imposed through the health care law are impeding economic growth and reducing the number of jobs that businesses would have created.  In addition, CBO estimates that costs associated with requiring employers to offer health insurance, or pay a fee, will be shifted to workers in the form of lower wages, fewer jobs or more part-time jobs at the expense of full-time jobs.  Due to this and other issues, the Administration announced the approval of another 126 waivers of benefit requirements included in the health care law, bringing the total to more than 1,000 waivers covering 2.6 million individuals.


The law is also resulting in higher premiums and increased consumer costs.  A number of specialists have estimated that the premium increases can reach as high as 60 percent.  According to CBO, families are facing premium increases of more than $2,000.  The Joint Committee on Taxation also estimated that the health care law's new taxes, including the $27 billion prescription drug tax and $60 billion tax on health plans, will be passed on to consumers. 


This law, which is increasing premiums, taxes and regulations, is not the health care reform that Idahoans and Americans sought.  I voted last month for repeal of this law, as Americans deserve true health care reform that controls health coverage costs.  While we did not win that vote, I will continue to press for real and lasting health care reform that a sound future requires.


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