By Rob Portan
Congress is known to make mistakes. And when it does, it is the duty of those senators and members of Congress who come after to try and fix those mistakes. In the last decade, no mistake has been greater than the one that gave us Obamacare.
It was a mistake born of the same kind of blanket partisanship that the American people have come to deplore about Washington. This trillion-dollar program and 1,000-page bill was rammed through Congress without being read, analyzed or fully debated. It did not receive a single Republican vote in either the House or the Senate, a rare and remarkable thing even in today’s politically charged environment.
It should surprise no one that we are discovering new problems with the law, seemingly every day. As then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi infamously said: “ We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” And find out we have – what’s in it kills jobs, raises the cost of health care, and limits choice when it comes to what insurance Americans can buy and what doctors they can visit.
Obamacare was sold to our nation under false pretenses. We were told that Obamacare would bring down premiums. They are going up. We were told Americans would be able to keep their insurance and their doctors. Millions are losing them. We were told that Obamacare would help create jobs. Instead, millions of Americans have given up looking for work and many of the jobs that are available are part-time. And the implementation of this massive new law has become, in the words of one of my Democratic colleagues, “a train wreck.”
Because Obamacare imposes significant costs on businesses that hire full-time workers – defined as more than 30 hours a week – we are already seeing employers cut back substantially on the hours their staff can work. The University of Akron, for instance, recently announced it would be restricting faculty hours because of Obamacare. They followed in the footsteps of Youngstown State, Stark State College and others in Ohio are that being forced to choose between having fewer full-time employees or bearing the burden of massive new costs. It’s a story that is being repeated across the country, in businesses large and small.
And it’s not just unemployment that is expected to rise because of Obamacare. The cost of health care is likely to go up, as well. The Wall Street Journal reported that premiums could increase by as much as 436 percent in Columbus. And according to the Ohio Department of Insurance, Ohioans can generally expect to see health insurance premiums in the individual market increase at an average of 41 percent in our state next year.
Meanwhile, we are watching the implementation of Obamacare unravel before our very eyes. The health care exchanges that are at the heart of Obamacare are in trouble. In August, I sent a letter to the administration, warning that the technology simply wasn’t there to handle the overload of information the exchanges would need to process. I never received a response, but now we know that some of the exchanges, supposed to go online Oct. 1, are delayed because of unacceptably high failure rates. Recently, Health and Human Services announced that key components of the Small Business Health Options Program – or SHOP Exchange – will also be delayed until 2015. And another part of the legislation that was meant to insure long-term care – the CLASS Act – has been abandoned altogether because it was financially unsustainable.
If a commercial product had as many defects as Obamacare, it would have been yanked from the shelves long ago as dangerous to the public.
For some companies at least, the White House has taken steps to alleviate these problems. Earlier this year, the administration announced – in the face of dire warnings from the business community – that the employer mandate would be delayed for a year. Meanwhile, thousands of corporations and some labor unions have received exemptions altogether from the health care law.
And yet the individual mandate, the part of Obamacare that’s going to hit the average American, still looms over us all. There’s no relief for the American people.
Some people point out that Obamacare is the law and ask why I continue to fight to repeal and replace it with better reforms.
The answer is simple. The people of Ohio sent me to Washington to support policies that are good for Ohio and America and oppose those policies that hurt our state and our country. Obamacare is bad for Ohio’s economy and bad for Ohio family’s health care. This is why I support repealing the law and replacing it with a better way to lower health care costs, increase health care choices and improve the quality of care.
And that is a cause worth fighting for.
Rob Portman is a United States Senator from Ohio.