One hundred days after the new federal health care law was passed, Americans remain anxious about how it will impact them and their families. In fact, many Americans still want to know what is in the nearly 3,000 pages of legislation that might represent real health reform for them.
Unfortunately, when measured against the Administration‘s own stated goals, the new health law fails to address the top health care concerns of the American people. According to a March 2009 report released by Health and Human Services, a majority of Americans identified cost as their top concern with American health care.1
Independent experts have found that the new health law will increase the cost of health insurance and health care services. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), premiums for millions of American families in 2016 will be 10-13 percent higher than they otherwise would be. 2 This represents a $2100 increase per family, compared with the status quo.3
And, according to a recent memo from the Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the medical device and pharmaceutical drugs fees and the health insurance excise tax will ―generally be passed through to health consumers in the form of higher drugs and device prices and higher insurance premiums, with an associated increase in overall national health expenditures….‖4
This is not the only bad news. According to the same memo, the new health care law bends the cost curve upward and increases national health spending. In other words, health care will cost more because of this new law.
Contrary to the promise that Americans who like their current health plan can keep it, the Administration published a regulation regarding ―grandfathered health plans‖ – plans that are exempt from the changes under the law.5 According to the published regulation, as many as seven out of every 10 businesses across the country will lose their ―grandfathered health plan.‖6 This means that about half of the more than 150 million Americans enrolled in employer plans will lose their current plan and either remain without employer coverage, or see the cost of that employer-provided coverage increase due to government mandates and regulation.
Additionally, the CBO estimates 23 million people will still be without health coverage at all. The dramatic cuts to Medicare could cause some providers to ―end their participation in the program,‖ and could jeopardize access to care for beneficiaries.7
In fact, according to a recent USA Today story, ―the number of doctors refusing new Medicare patients because of low government payment rates‖ is already increasing, ―setting a new high, just six months before millions of Baby Boomers begin enrolling in the government health care program.‖8
A majority of Americans opposed the law when it was being considered in Congress. Four separate polls conducted around the time the bill was signed into law showed that a majority of Americans opposed the bill.9
Since passage, each week has brought new information about the unintended consequences of Congress‘ government-takeover of health care. Health plans are changing. Premiums are increasing. Physicians are dropping out of Medicare.
Recent polls fair no better for the law‘s proponents, with a more recent poll showing 6 in 10 Americans now believe the law will likely increase the federal deficit, with only about 1 in 10 saying the law will reduce the deficit as claimed.10
In its recent analysis of the long-term forecast of the federal budget, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed the impact of the new health law. In its projection, the CBO incorporated ―several changes to [the new health] law that are widely expected to occur or that would modify some provisions of law that might be difficult to sustain for a long period.‖11
In other words, in its projection of future federal spending, CBO determined that, based on previous congressional behavior, deficit-reducing provisions – such as reducing Medicare‘s payments to physicians – were unlikely to be fully implemented by Congress. Therefore, they concluded the deficit would increase and ―federal debt would grow much more rapidly.‖12
As supporters of cost-effective, common-sense health reform, but staunch opponents of the legislation that passed Congress earlier this year, this report presents the American people with a check-up about the side effects and the implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as it begins to be implemented.13 The passage of this law will exacerbate current problems in health care and could make them even worse.
The intention of this report is to highlight some of problems with the law and its consequences. Here are a few examples examined in the report:
Sixteen million Americans are forced into Medicaid, a program that denies care and yields lower health outcomes for patients, and for which there are minimal physicians to deliver care.
American citizens will be forced to purchase costlier health care or pay a tax; illegal immigrants will continue to get free care and those costs will be shifted onto Americans.
Uninsured Americans will now be considered violators of the law and could face harassment by the IRS.
The new health law increases the cost of health care and insurance.
Millions of Americans will lose their current health plan as employers either drop coverage or purchase more expensive, government-dictated health insurance.
More than a year ago, our country began a national conversation about how to best reform our nation‘s health care system. We were both early advocates for real health reform that would lower costs, empower patients, and increase access. We proposed health reform ideas that would ensure all Americans had access to affordable coverage.14
The passage of the new law is a lost historic opportunity. However, we hope the American people will not give up on their desire for sustainable health reform but will hold their elected leaders accountable to work together to craft common-sense, bipartisan, step-by-step reforms. We believe that real reform begins with replacing the new law with sensible provisions that will lower costs, increase patient control, and put affordable, high quality coverage within the grasp of every American.
Tom Coburn, M.D. and John Barrasso, M.D.
Google - Their report, entitled “Bad Medicine: A Check-Up on the New Federal Health Law,” for a full report.