By Senator Mike Johanns
It is no surprise that trust in Congress is at an all time low. Partisan gridlock has become the norm rather than the exception when addressing today’s challenges. As a result, important steps are often skipped. Ideas to improve legislation are often overlooked and efforts to understand the impact of a proposed law by inviting thorough analysis are overtaken by rhetoric. Such was the case with health care reform and the consequences continue to come to light.
New analysis from the Administration’s own experts shows the health care law—rushed through Congress with no bipartisan support and using budgetary gimmicks to make it appear sustainable—is significantly and fatally flawed.
The new report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) tears down the rhetoric that was used to attempt to sell the legislation to the American people. It shows the law will instead lead to higher costs, less access to care, and unsustainable spending. It finds that in the next decade, the nation’s health care spending will increase by $311 billion under the new law, instead of decreased spending as promised.
The analysis also projects that the new taxes and fees in the law will be passed directly to consumers through higher health insurance premiums, medical supply expenses, and prescription drug costs. This is the exact opposite of what was promised by the Administration, and exactly what the American people were concerned would happen.
Americans were promised that if you currently like your insurance coverage you would be able to keep it. Yet the report indicates that enrollment in the popular Medicare Advantage Program will be cut in half due to the law’s mandated cuts. That is 7.4 million senior citizens who will lose the coverage they currently like. Furthermore, the Administration’s analysis predicts 14 million Americans who currently enjoy employer-based health insurance plans will lose them as smaller employers are squeezed out of providing health insurance by the new law.
The study also shows that the more than $500 billion in cuts from the Medicare program could cause health care providers to end participation in the program, putting access to care in danger for millions more American seniors. According to the report, 15 percent of all hospitals, nursing homes, and similar providers could be operating at a loss by 2019 because of these cuts. If a hospital is forced to quit accepting Medicare patients or shut their doors, it will not matter if every American has health insurance as they might not be able to find a doctor when they need care. This is especially troubling for our rural communities, where access to health services is already stretched thin.
I’ve repeatedly highlighted examples of this law’s budgetary gimmicks and unrealistic expectations, but this report clearly states that health care shortages and overall price increases are “plausible and even probable.” In Nebraska, we work together to find real solutions to pressing issues; that wasn’t the case with health care legislation and it’s past time for Washington to follow suit.