On the heels of the Obamacare Supreme Court ruling that upheld the individual mandate, the House of Representatives voted 244–185 to fully repeal the law. Recent hearings before the Ways and Means and Oversight and Government Reform committees provide further reason why full repeal is necessary.
The Ways and Means Committee held a hearing to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court individual mandate decision on future tax policy. Carrie Severino, who filed three Supreme Court briefs against the mandate, shared concerns in her expert testimony before the committee:
Allowing unrestricted taxes on inactivity will open the door to taxes the likes of which this country has never seen. For example, since seatbelts and motorcycle helmets increase road safety, Congress could simply tax those who refuse to wear them.
Severino questioned whether this new power would allow Congress to tax anyone who chooses not to recycle or buy solar panels, and another witness questioned if Congress could tax you for not driving an electric car.
The policy consequences of the individual mandate are not unique. There are numerous other unintended consequences buried in the law. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by chairman Darrell Issa (R–CA) held a hearing to discuss Obamacare’s impact on job creators and the economy. As Heritage research predicts, Obamacare will affect employment decisions, including pricing less skilled workers out of full-time jobs.
Representing the National Restaurant Association and White Castle restaurants, Jamie Richardson testified that Obamacare’s taxes, penalties, and red tape will increase costs. This will place a growing burden on the restaurant industry, which employs nearly 10 percent of the American workforce. Richardson said that White Castle expects the cost of its current health care plan to increase by 20 percent in 2014 if Obamacare stays on the books. Furthermore, he said, the company is delaying expansion into new markets because of the law, taking 400–500 potential jobs off the table.
Yet another hearing discussed the impact of Obamacare on doctors and patients. Richard Armstrong, a physician and chief operating officer of Docs4PatientCare, said that new bureaucracies, such as the Independent Payment Advisory Board, will serve as impediments to patient-centered care: “All of these intrusions steal valuable and limited time from direct patient interaction, virtually destroying the traditional physician-patient relationship.”
Eric Novak, who has treated over 50,000 patients and performed almost 5,000 surgeries, agreed that Obamacare isn’t in the best interest of patients. He asked, “As the decision-makers in health care move further and further away from the patient—and instead reside in boards of experts, government rule makers, and insurance and hospital administrators—to whom will doctors be listening?”
Jeffrey Colyer, lieutenant governor of Kansas and also a practicing surgeon, highlighted the cost of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Dr. Colyer pointed to a CBO report that pegs the cost of expansion at $73 billion for states over 10 years. Colyer asserts, “While some federal observers may suggest this cost is negligible, in the world of balancing budgets, these costs will be challenging for states to maintain.” Heritage expert Nina Owcharenko explains that as more funding in already-strained state budgets gets directed toward Medicaid, other public priorities, such as education, will be edged out.
The more Americans learn about Obamacare, the less there is to like.