Upton Urges Repeal of Job-Killing Health Care Law
WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made the following statement today before the House Rules Committee in support of the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act (H.R. 2):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. I appreciate the opportunity to testify in support of the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, a bill that is key in our efforts to promote policies that will help put Americans back to work and actually bring down health care costs for working families.
In trying to secure passage of the controversial health care law, Speaker Pelosi famously said the House needed to pass the bill so we could find out what was in it. Well, in the ten months since its passage, the American people have learned what was in the bill, and they have overwhelmingly rejected it because it kills jobs and increases costs.
Our nation's unemployment rate is nearly 10 percent - it is over 12 percent in my home state of Michigan. This is unacceptable, and it underscores the urgency of our efforts to end job-killing policies like ObamaCare.
The government takeover of health care destroys jobs with a host of tax hikes and costly government mandates. It raises taxes on the American people by more than $500 billion. At a time of soaring unemployment, the law alarmingly includes:
"¢ $210 billion in new payroll taxes;
"¢ $60 billion in new taxes on health plans;
"¢ $27 billion in taxes on pharmaceuticals that patients need;
"¢ $20 billion in taxes on common medical devices used by patients, like pacemakers and oxygen;
"¢ $15 billion in increased taxes on people with high medical expenses; and
"¢ $13 billion in taxes by restricting the use of Flexible Savings Accounts for things like over-the-counter drugs, including allergy medication.
Hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes will not only suffocate our economy, they will hurt families at a time when they can least afford it. This is not the American way.
And let us not forget the $52 billion employer mandate. According to a study by the National Federation of Independent Business, an employer mandate could eliminate 1.6 million jobs by 2014. Two-thirds of those job losses could come from the small businesses that should be driving our economic recovery.
At the Blair House health care summit last year, Speaker Pelosi claimed the health care bill would create 400,000 new jobs almost immediately. Yet the only new jobs most Americans can see are for Washington bureaucrats writing thousands of pages of regulations even as they hand out waivers because of the law's unworkable mandates.
Mr. Chairman, we must work together to foster a new era of job growth that encourages investment and innovation. We must repeal this job-killing health law that raids the pocketbooks of working Americans and sends their hard-earned tax dollars to Washington to create jobs for bureaucrats who decide what health care the public can have. We need to free our job creators from the uncertainty of this bill's regulations and taxes so jobs can be created in places like Washington Township, Michigan, not Washington, DC.
When the health reform debate began, the President said the goal of reform was to lower costs; in fact, he predicted Americans would see their premiums reduced by $2,500 a year. However, the Congressional Budget Office estimates ObamaCare will actually raise health insurance premiums in the individual market 10 to 13 percent. Americans are now facing the prospect of a $2,100 increase in premiums rather than the $2,500 decrease that was promised.
The President also promised Americans that if they liked their health insurance, they could keep it. Yet, the bureaucrats enforcing the new government rules have stated that almost 87 million Americans could lose their current coverage.
Despite the administration's million-dollar, taxpayer funded ad campaign to convince seniors otherwise, the $575 billion in cuts to Medicare to fund new entitlements will hurt the Medicare program and its beneficiaries. The administration's Chief Actuary estimates that a full 50 percent of participants, or 7 million seniors, will lose access to their Medicare Advantage plans. The bill cuts hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare providers that, according to the actuary, could force 15 percent of providers to leave the program. The result would be, and I quote, "jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries."
And despite claims to the contrary, the costs of ObamaCare will markedly increase our federal budget deficit. The proponents of the bill understood the program could not sustain itself, so they used misleading budget gimmicks to hide its true costs. This law provides six years of benefits paid for with ten years of tax increases and Medicare cuts. According to a report authored by the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, ObamaCare will increase the federal budget deficit by more than $550 billion in the first ten years of the law and by $1.4 trillion in the following ten years.
Finally, instead of stopping skyrocketing health care costs, ObamaCare increases them. The administration's Chief Actuary predicts the federal government and the country will spend $310 billion more under ObamaCare than we would have without the new law.
Even after the bill was signed into law, the Republican minority pleaded with former the Chairman to hold hearings on this massive overhaul. We asked for hearings to examine how companies will be forced to change or even drop their health care plans, leaving the promise that "if you liked your insurance you could keep it" as nothing but empty rhetoric. We sought hearings with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the other members of the vast administrative bureaucracy now in charge of our nation's health care system. Our calls went unanswered.
That now will change as the Energy and Commerce Committee will embark on a number of hearings in both the Health and the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees.
What will not go unanswered is the call of American people who spoke loud and clear in November and rejected this massive government expansion and takeover of health care.
We heard the public and we are working on their behalf as we fight to repeal this health law and fulfill our pledge to work to create jobs, reduce the size of government and cut spending.
Mr. Chairman, I commend your efforts to advance this bill so we can cast our votes to stop the taxes, stop the mandates, and get Americans back to work as we continue fighting to bring down health care costs and expand access to quality coverage. Thank you.
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