Rokita Op-Ed: Fight to Repeal Obama’s Health Plan
As printed in the Lafayette Journal & Courier on June 30, 2012
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling that declared that Obamacare is essentially valid under the Constitution.
Although I strongly disagree with the outcome of the ruling, in reading the court’s opinion I see a silver lining for the majority of Americans who worry about the growing size and scope of the federal government.
Perhaps the most significant line in Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion was this: “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”
In that statement, the chief justice summarized a core American principle: that the future of our republic depends on the active participation of informed citizens. On issues ranging from health care to our skyrocketing levels of spending and debt, Hoosiers and patriots across the country are beginning to wake up to the crises we face.
Obamacare is an unprecedented government intrusion into the lives of every American. And although I wish the court had ruled differently, the American people have the opportunity to correct the mistake by electing representatives who will repeal it and enact consumer-driven reforms.
Among Obamacare’s many flaws, one that will affect Hoosiers in particular, is the medical device tax. This 2.3 percent excise tax on the sales of medical device manufacturers and importers – one of 22 such taxes in the health care law – will destroy potentially thousands of jobs in Indiana, in an industry where roughly 70,000 Hoosiers are employed.
As a member of the House Medical Technology Caucus, I helped lead the successful effort earlier this month to pass a repeal of the medical device tax. In March, I led a group of 74 colleagues in signing a letter to House and committee leadership urging action on the bill, and I continued to push them until we held a successful vote to pass a repeal of the tax through the House.
Throughout the debate prior to the passage of Obamacare, President Barack Obama repeatedly assured Americans that “if you like your current plan, you can keep it.” But several studies, including a McKinsey and Company study in 2011, have concluded that because of increased costs and employer penalties, nearly half of all surveyed employers said they would drop or change their employee coverage plans after 2014.
In spite of these and other structural flaws with Obamacare, perhaps its greatest sin is the crippling effect of massive government intervention in the health care sector. Simply put, Obamacare claims broad powers that our founding fathers never intended the federal government to have. By imposing vast tax increases and regulations not only on individual Americans, but on employers and the health care industry as a whole, Obamacare poses a threat to the innovation drives our health care system.
As a Republican, I often hear my party described as the party of “no.” Many constituents have asked, “If you repeal Obamacare, what will you replace it with?” That’s a valid question, and my colleagues and I are already working to pass consumer-driven reforms that will deliver true health care reforms with lower costs and better outcomes for Americans. But even as we move these reforms forward, we’re doing it differently – by listening to Americans, and not just ramming legislation through Congress, as happened with the president’s health care law.
In March, I introduced the State Health Flexibility Act, which would combine federal funding to the states for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program into a single block grant that allows states to design their programs according to the needs and priorities of their own citizens. This approach would unleash innovation at the state level and save nearly $2 trillion over 10 years – without cutting a penny from current funding levels. Elements of the bill were included in the House-passed fiscal year 2013 budget earlier this year.
With the State Health Flexibility Act and other reforms, our goal is to take power away from Washington bureaucrats and return it to consumers and to states, as the Constitution intended.
Obamacare is an effort to enshrine the idea that government bureaucrats are better equipped to make health care decisions than patients and their doctors. As we move forward, we’ll continue our work to repeal it and enact consumer-driven reforms that will allow our health care system to deliver better, more innovative, and more cost-effective care – without increasing the size and scope of the federal government.