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McKeon Statement: Markup of H.R. 3200, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act

Let me begin by saying that I do not believe that maintaining the status quo in our health care system is an option. We need to reform our health care system to greatly increase access, accountability, choice, and savings to consumers. The House Republican Health Care Solutions group has been working on these goals and stands ready to offer an alternative that will accomplish all of these goals without raising taxes or allowing for the federal government to take over the American health care system.

Unfortunately, the introduction of this health care legislation makes it clear that the goal of House Democrats is to have a full government takeover of our nation’s health care system, where bureaucrats determine what medical treatments Americans receive. It’s regrettable that the majority refused to foster bipartisan legislation and rushed introduction of a mammoth 1,018-page bill with a trillion dollar price tag that increases taxes, rations care, and will hurt the economy.

This bill takes direct aim at small business owners by adding hefty new taxes, further hurting the middle-class and putting additional stress on an already weakened economy. The “pay or play” mandate in this bill will be a back-breaker for small business. Under the current plan, businesses who decide that they want to seek alternatives outside of government bureaucrats’ dictates, will be subject to increasing levels of new taxes based on the dollar amount of payroll.

For example, let’s say you own a small business. If you have a payroll of $350,000 to $400,000, and you choose not to, or simply cannot afford to enroll in a plan approved by the federal government, your taxes will be raised 6%. If your payroll is over $400,000, you will be hit with an 8% tax. This will result in at least $32,000 in new taxes. This strong-arming of our nation’s small businesses at a time when we need them the most, is completely irresponsible and inexplicable. Small businesses create two-thirds of the nation’s new jobs, and 98 percent of the new businesses in this country are small businesses.

I know first-hand the difficult choices that small business owners face everyday, having owned a small business a number of years ago. Many in this room may never know what it is like to have to meet payroll every month, to ensure that hard working men and women get paid the wages they have earned. If I am a small business owner who can’t afford to buy into one of the government-sanctioned health insurance plans, why is it that I can afford another $32,000 in taxes? Either way, this is a tax on small business, not to mention the 2.5% tax that will be levied against individuals who opt to not take part in a government-approved health plan.

Bureaucrats in Washington dictating the terms of what qualifies as an “acceptable” health plan equals a loss of freedom for all Americans. “Pay or play,” mandates on business and individuals, a “public plan” option; all of this will lead to rationing of health care. It will truly be a sad day when American citizens who used to enjoy the freedom to choose their own doctor must wait weeks, or months, to get the treatment they need and deserve.

So I would urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to take a step back, look at how this legislation will impact American workers and families, and include Republicans in the process of drafting needed health care reform legislation that encourages innovations, reduces the burden on small business, and gives families struggling to make ends meet some needed relief. One way we can do this is by authorizing the creation of Small Business Health Plans to provide increased access to health insurance, particularly for workers in small businesses. By allowing small businesses to band together through associations and purchase quality health care for workers and families at a lower cost, we are empowering them to make decisions based on what works best for them and their employees.

As written, this legislation would have been bad for America during any point in our history, much less where we stand now in the middle of an economic downturn. Mr. Chairman, I think it would behoove all of us to slow this process down and work on reforming the health care system so that there is more accountability, more choice, more savings for consumers, and more emphasis on prevention and wellness.


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