6 reasons why we can’t afford the Affordable Care Act

Published 9:10 am Friday, July 19, 2013

By Congressman Randy Forbes

When Congress debated the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2009, the Administration said the law offered a central promise: affordability, claiming it would lower costs for businesses and families. But as we move closer to full implementation of the law, the more we see how unaffordable it really is. In fact, earlier this month, the Administration postponed until 2015, the implementation of the employer mandate, tacitly demonstrating that the law is unworkable and unaffordable for businesses.

To that end, here are six reasons why we as a nation cannot afford the Affordable Care Act:

Jobs are at risk. The Affordable Care Act creates incentives to not hire new workers and cut back the hours employees are allowed to work. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 32 percent of small businesses will reduce hiring as a result of the employer mandate, and 31 percent will cut back hours to reduce the number of full-time employees.

It creates economic confusion. The Act causes confusion for employers struggling to understand and comply with this law. The wave of new rules and regulations, which companies are scrambling to prepare for, adds yet another burden to small businesses amidst an economic environment where many are struggling just to keep their doors open. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce small business outlook survey found that nearly 75 percent of small business owners say the law‘s confusing new mandates, regulations and taxes have made it more difficult to decide whether they should expand business or hire new workers.

Premiums will increase. One of the most serious flaws with the Affordable Care Act is that its flurry of regulations, restrictions and taxes drives up the underlying cost of health insurance for people who buy it on their own. According to a May 2013 report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, nearly all states will see premium increases for individuals and small businesses. Consumers purchasing health insurance on the individual market may face premium increases of nearly 100 percent on average. In Virginia, projections in the same report show a potential premium increase of 31 percent in the small business market.

Initial components of the plan have already run out of money. The White House said Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIP) would offer “an [temporary] option to people who have been locked out of the insurance market because of a pre-existing condition like cancer or heart disease” until the Affordable Care Act kicks in. However, bad budget projections caused the plan to run out of money allowing only 107,139 out of 375,000 Americans with chronic conditions or diseases to enroll in the program, according to a report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Earlier this year, the administration announced individuals seeking assistance would be barred from enrolling in PCIP because of financial constraints even though the plan had a lower than expected enrollment.

Fewer doctors will accept new Medicare or Medicaid patients. Because of the bureaucratic baggage of the law, more than a third of physicians have planned to restrict the Medicare and Medicaid coverage, according to the Physicians Foundation.

The individual mandate is expensive and confusing. Beginning in 2014, under the individual mandate, those who don’t carry health insurance will be fined. For example, individuals without coverage will pay $95 or 1 percent of their annual income. The fine will increase to $695 or 2.5 percent of annual income — whichever is highest — over time.

However, there is confusion between the employer mandate (which was recently delayed until 2015), and the individual mandate (which is still on schedule to go into effect in 2014). A survey by Health Pocket, a consumer resource on health insurance, showed that nearly 50 percent of the individuals surveyed weren’t sure if the fines would take effect as scheduled.

This week the House will take up legislation to halt both the employer and individual mandate.

These six reasons serve to corroborate this report, demonstrating how the law is unwieldy and damaging to our economy, and why so many Americans, including me, opposed it from the beginning. It’s also why I have voted to repeal both mandates and will continue to support the repeal and defunding of the health care law. Access to affordable healthcare should not come at such a high price.

U.S. Rep. RANDY FORBES, R-Va., represents Western Tidewater in the U.S. House of Representatives. His e-mail address is randy@randyforbes.com.