WASHINGTON, D.C. | June 7, 2011 -
Good morning everyone. First, allow me to take a moment to thank our witnesses for being with us today. We recognize you all have busy schedules, and we appreciate the opportunity to hear your thoughts and experiences on the very important issue of health care. Second, I would like to thank the people of Evansville, Indiana for their hospitality and for hosting the first field hearing of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.
As our first field hearing, there are few topics more relevant to our economy and the challenges facings our families and small businesses than health care. Each year the cost of care goes up, placing even greater strain on budgets already stretched thin by a difficult economy. Some patients refuse care simply because they cannot afford it. Employers often choose between ending coverage and hiring new workers. And the burden imposed on taxpayers becomes even greater as government programs expand and health care services grow more expensive and more unsustainable.
We know there are a number of factors forcing health care costs to rise, such as an aging population, more advanced treatments, and greater use of health care services coupled with fewer providers. However, as is often the case, too much intervention by the federal government can make an already problematic situation worse. Instead of allowing choice and competition to encourage innovation and lower costs, a Washington-knows-best mentality can often discourage progress and lead to a one-size-fits-all approach that simply cannot work for a country as vast and diverse as ours.
That is why I, along with a strong majority of the American people, rejected the government takeover of health care that was imposed on the nation last year. Any effort to reduce costs for America’s workers and job creators was abandoned along the road to reform by Democrat leaders who favored a massive expansion of the federal government’s role in health care.
For the first time in our nation’s history, private individuals will be required to buy health care or pay a penalty. In a few short years, businesses with more than 50 employees will be mandated by law to provide government-approved health care to workers or pay a fine, regardless of the difficulties these businesses may be facing just to keep their doors open.
Proponents of the law say it includes relief for small businesses. Well, unfortunately, that relief is not only limited and temporary, but according to one analysis it actually penalizes certain businesses for raising wages or hiring new workers.
Can anyone seriously argue this is a good thing for an economy that has been plagued with high unemployment for nearly three years? Will this help the more than 13 million unemployed Americans who are searching for work?
A number of the law’s provisions will not take effect until 2014, but already we are hearing from business leaders troubled by the uncertainty the law is creating. This is unacceptable, especially at a time when certainty is needed to restore confidence and foster economic growth. A 2,700 page health care law has led to more than 6,600 pages of new federal rules and regulations – and that is just what the administration has accomplished in the first 14 months since the bill was signed into law. That is a difficult maze of bureaucratic red-tape for businesses to navigate at a time when they should be focused on expanding their operations and creating new jobs.
As a doctor and a lawmaker, addressing these challenges remains at the forefront of my efforts serving the people of the first district in Tennessee, and as chairman of the House Subcommittee of Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions. It is clear the status quo is failing our families, workers, and job creators. We appreciate the work of our witnesses who are helping us to chart a better course, one that will harness the creativity of the American people to lower the cost of health care for the nation.
I want to note that another Indiana colleague and subcommittee member, Todd Rokita, could not be here today because of a previous commitment, but I know he too is committed to creating affordable health care for American businesses and repealing the onerous mandates created by the Affordable Care Act.
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