The U.S. healthcare system remains the greatest in the world. Constantly evolving to meet future generation’s needs, our nation’s vast network of medical professionals and cutting edge facilities continue to improve Americans’ health and life expectancy. Many of the advances in medical care over the last several decades have been accomplished through the innovation and research by our own New Jersey pharmaceutical industry.
However, this system is not without its challenges. Rising costs have made access to care difficult for many, and impossible for some.
In response, the current Administration crafted a massive piece of legislation which only worsens the problem. The pending government takeover of the health care will lead to widespread inefficiency and even higher costs. More importantly, the President’s new health care law proposes to inject government bureaucrats between patients and their doctors.
To expand access, H.R. 3590 enacted mandates for both individuals and employers, with hefty fines for non-compliance, at a time when our economy had already challenged cash-strapped small businesses and families across the nation. This new mandate to acquire health insurance will greatly expand the bankrolls of insurance companies without any new standards against price fixing, or steps to encourage competition across state lines, both of which would create vast incentives to drive down costs. Such giveaways to the insurance companies only reward the rising costs of health care with higher taxpayer subsidies to cover them.
Additionally, the law contains over $523 billion in job-killing, higher taxes including: $17 billion in new taxes on Americans who do not obey the bill’s requirement that individuals must buy health insurance whether they want to or not, and $52 billion in new taxes on employers that do not provide health coverage deemed “acceptable” or “affordable” by Washington-based, government bureaucrats.
Further, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will function as the government’s chief enforcer for health care reform, monitoring individuals and businesses’ health insurance statuses through mandatory reporting required by the new law. To do so, last year’s Congressional Majority included an additional $10 billion in funding for the IRS’ new monitoring and enforcement duties.
This law contains over $569 billion in total cuts to Medicare. These reductions include $202.3 billion from seniors’ Medicare health plans, including massive cuts targeting the extra benefits and reduced cost-sharing seniors receive through Medicare Advantage. 148,000 seniors in New Jersey, including over 35,000 in my Congressional District enjoy the benefits of this innovative program.
The Congressional Budget Office predicts that three million seniors nationwide currently receiving health benefits through these Medicare plans will be dropped. And, the Medicare cuts go deeper. The bill slashes $156 billion from hospitals, including long-term care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, Ambulatory Surgical Centers, hospice, ambulances, dialysis facilities, labs and durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers.
This law also completely ignores the ongoing crisis in Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors. Many doctors in New Jersey are already questioning their participation in Medicare, putting in greater jeopardy our seniors’ access to care.
Let me be clear, I support health care reform and efforts to make quality health care coverage affordable and accessible for every American. Any time a child or a parent goes without the care they need, it represents a very serious personal crisis for that family.
Specifically, as a starting point, I support:
- allowing ‘portability’ of health coverage, so you can take your plan with you from job to job and state to state;
- requiring insurance companies to cover individuals with pre-existing medical conditions;
- encouraging doctors to treat indigent and low-income patients by allowing the physicians to deduct the costs of treatment they provided as a write-off from their federal taxes.
- tort reform to reduce junk medical lawsuits that unnecessarily drive up costs for doctors, hospitals and other health providers;
- increasing support for medical education to prepare more young men and women to become doctors, nurses and health providers to ensure that patients have access to trained professionals;
- reducing fraud, waste and abuse in medical care.
We must take the continue to work with doctors, nurses, lawyers, insurers, hospitals, patients, pharmaceutical companies and others to help us achieve what matters most: more affordable, more accessible, more individualized and personalized health care.
I will continue to be a forceful and vocal advocate for health care legislation aimed at reducing health care costs, improving choices, reforming liability laws to put the needs of patients first, and ensuring there are enough doctors to care for American families. I believe we can accomplish these goals by empowering patients and doctors, instead of turning more control over to the federal government, and I will continue to push for the right kind of reforms.