April 01, 2010

WHAT THE HEALTH CARE LAW MEANS FOR IDAHOANS

By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

After months of debate, our country has a new health care law that I'm convinced will prove to be a historic mistake. Although there was minimal discussion about bipartisanship on the matter, the only thing about this bill that turned out to be bipartisan was the opposition to it-in Congress and in public opinion. Instead of focusing on reforms that address what Americans really care about-high health care costs, rising insurance rates and meaningful access to insurance---it raises taxes, reduces services and access and results in even higher deficits. After more than a year of contentious and often confusing public debate, many people are rightly upset and still don't understand exactly what the new law will mean to them. So here are a few examples of what Idahoans can expect:

• Every Idahoan's share of the national debt will increase when you take out the budget gimmicks and include the cost of paying doctors to see Medicare patients.

• The government will spend $8,470 more on health care for every American.

• 60,000 Idahoans enrolled in Medicare Advantage will have benefits reduced (Congressional Budget Office).

• More than 356,000 Idaho households making less than $200,000 will pay higher taxes (Joint Committee on Taxation).

• The average premium for people who purchase insurance in the individual market would be about 10-13 percent higher than premiums under current law (Congressional Budget Office)

• All Idaho small businesses employing 50 or more people, along with 2,773 Idaho construction companies employing five or more will pay either higher health care costs or a new penalty because of new government mandates.

• Nearly 40,000 Idaho college students will be overcharged an average of $1,965 on student loans to fund health care and other government programs.

• The youngest 30 percent of Idahoans will pay at least 35 percent more as premiums go up in the individual market (actuarial firm Oliver Wyman).

• Many low-income Idahoans will be added to Idaho's Medicaid program. Due to the costs of this enormous Medicaid expansion, Idaho will be forced to raise taxes, raise college tuition, cut funding to schools, roads or law enforcement or all of the above.

Instead of reducing costs so more Americans can afford to purchase health insurance, this new law expands an already unaffordable health care system. Idahoans, along with the rest of the country, were strongly opposed to this legislation; yet, it was forced through Congress with backroom deals and false claims of bipartisanship. America deserves true health care reform done in an honest, bipartisan process. I have joined Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and other Senate colleagues in supporting legislation to repeal this law and start over with a more transparent, open process to enact real reforms rather than a one-size-fits-all government takeover.

Realigning payment incentives toward outcomes, not the number of procedures; promoting wellness and prevention programs; encouraging small businesses to pool together to purchase insurance; allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines to increase competition; eliminating waste, fraud and abuse and expanding health savings accounts are good first steps that do not raise taxes and will meaningfully lower health costs. These are all step-by-step reforms that Republicans advocated during the health care debate over the last year. In talking with Idaho citizens over that time, it is clear that they want innovative solutions that will allow everyone the opportunity to afford, own and keep a health care plan that best meets their needs, not decisions made by government bureaucrats. For more information on how the new health care law will affect you and your family, please go to http://crapo.senate.gov.

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