Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Voters must now decide future of healthcare law

July 10, 2012

The Hill Blog

Voters must now decide future of healthcare law

By Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) - 07/10/12 02:07 PM ET

In a move that surprised many, the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld most provisions included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. This law included an individual mandate which forces every American at certain income levels to purchase healthcare insurance.  The court ruled that the mandate is not constitutional under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but is constitutional under Congress' power to tax. 

While the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of, this decision certainly does not make the law good policy. A law that raises taxes, destroys jobs, and dampens economic growth, while doing nothing to address soaring healthcare costs, is simply the wrong prescription. The American public is now presented with a choice of bigger government, fewer options, and increased healthcare costs under ObamaCare, or a future with smaller government and affordable healthcare options where decisions are made by patients and their doctors, not Washington bureaucrats.
The mandate also affects millions of Americans who will be forced to purchase health insurance only because the federal government is forcing them to do so through taxation. These individuals will be forced to buy a product they may not need, or want, just to comply with a bureaucratic mandate.
The court did strike down a section of the law that requires states to expand their Medicaid programs. The expansion would have mandated that states expand their Medicaid programs or face losing all of their current federal funding. The Supreme Court ruled that they cannot withhold federal funds if states choose to opt out of the costly expansion.
So what does the broader ruling which upholds the bulk of ObamaCare mean for America? Small businesses will still likely be hurt the most. Many small business owners already hurting in a weak economy are deeply concerned about the long term impacts of ObamaCare on their livelihood. Individuals who are underemployed and barely able to cope with skyrocketing inflation are terrified at the prospect of being compelled to pay for insurance or face a penalty.
The added cost of purchasing insurance, or paying the new tax, is a serious blow to those on a fixed income or barely making ends meet. The notion that the federal government can coerce someone to subscribe to a service and under no circumstances can one opt out unless given a waiver by the president sounds truly draconian and un-democratic. The tax credit for providing health insurance to employees only extends to businesses with 25 employees or fewer. For entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses, this means that, once they hit 26 employees, they'll lose their tax credit. Either this means forego the tax credit or forego expansion. In the two years since the new law has been implemented, small business owners have seen their health insurance premiums go up. This trend is likely to continue.  Even more troubling, the greatest impact will be on small mom and pop businesses with less than ten employees and limited opportunities for growth.
The Supreme Court issued a ruling on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. However, they do not have the final say on this matter. The people of the United States of America can decide whether it is right, and we have the power to remove it through our elections. The mandate is a tax and an unfair burden on the American people. This week, the House will again pass a bill to repeal this law in its entirety. True change will only come, though, if the Senate follows suit and the President signs the repeal into law.
That will not happen with the current makeup of the Senate and White House. It will require action by the people who truly do hold the power in this country, the voters. If that happens in November, then, step-by-step, we can replace this onerous and overreaching law with thoughtful legislation, supported by the People, which will protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost.