Battle to stop health bill advances

Published 9:46am Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Six months after the passage of the widely unpopular government health care law, efforts to halt its advance are gaining momentum. With many of its regulations and mandates scheduled to kick in next year, there is a focused urgency to stop its negative impact on our economy and our health care options before it’s too late.

Americans are unhappy with their government’s direction over the last 20 months, and as I have personally witnessed during my series of more than a dozen South Alabama town hall meetings last month, the public is by and large opposed to the government’s massive expansion into one of the most personal areas of the economy – health care.

Passed by the narrowest of margins and in open defiance of the will of the American people, President Obama’s health care reform law not only is unaffordable, costing taxpayers $1.2 trillion over ten years, but also levies nearly $570 billion in new taxes. At least a dozen of these new tax provisions would impact families earning less than $250,000 a year, and some families making less than $66,150 a year could be forced to pay an individual mandate tax.

The president promised his government health care expansion was needed to help control rising medical costs. Yet, two weeks ago he admitted that his plan will increase costs. What’s more, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) also reported this month that national health care spending will rise by 6.3 percent, reaching $4.6 trillion over the next nine years. What about his promise to make health care more accessible and affordable? As the Wall Street Journal reported on September 7, health insurers expect to raise their premiums from one to nine percent in order to cover the costs of “Obamacare” – an additional burden on the insured.

In what may become the most infamous words of the long and venomous debate over the health care reform bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”  Those of us who opposed the bill are coming to find out how true her words were.

Buried in the act was a requirement that businesses file IRS 1099 forms for almost all business-to-business transactions over $600.  For small businesses already struggling under the weight of a slow economy, uncertainty over taxes, and increasing government regulation, this requirement imposes a significant new burden.

My conservative colleagues and I have long argued that the way to let the economy grow is to reduce regulatory burdens and lower taxes.  This new business-reporting requirement does exactly the opposite. It seeks to increase regulation with the goal of clawing out more revenue for the federal government.

I also support Iowa Congressman Steve King’s discharge petition to bring the health care repeal bill to the House floor for an up or down vote this year. He has collected 172 signatures on his discharge petition, 46 shy of the minimum of 218 required to send the bill to the floor.

As was reported last week in the local press, Alabama is one of 20 states joined in a federal lawsuit challenging the new health care law, and specifically questioning the Constitutional standing of its controversial mandate that all Americans must purchase health insurance.

If these efforts to stop Obamacare fail, it is still possible for Congress to choke off funds needed to implement the new health care law. But such an effort isn’t likely to occur this year.

My staff and I work for you.  If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my Web site at http://bonner.house.gov.

Jo Bonner is a guest columnist.

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