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ICYMI: Better health care approach needed

By Reps. Phil Roe(R-TN) and Mike Kelly (R-PA)

A recent survey by Gallup, Inc., asked a number of small business owners why they were not looking to hire new workers. While the vast majority expressed worries about the state of the economy and a lack of sales, our leading job creators highlighted two additional fears that should concern us all. Forty-six percent of small business owners said they weren’t hiring for fear of future government regulations, and 48 percent listed rising health care costs.

The Gallup study confirms what we hear on a regular basis. As members of Congress, we are privileged to meet regularly with the nation’s employers. In fact, on Wednesday we will hold a congressional hearing in Butler to discuss with Pennsylvania employers the issues of health care and job creation.

Employers come from different backgrounds; however, they are often united by the constant worry that rising health care costs and government regulations will make it harder to grow their businesses and hire new workers.

This is exactly why so many in Congress and across the country oppose President Barack Obama’s health care law. At a time when millions of Americans were looking for work and employers were searching for a sense of economic stability, Democrats in Washington were advancing a multitrillion- dollar government takeover of health care. In less than two years since the president signed his health care plan into law, the federal bureaucracy has added more than 10,000 pages of rules and regulations to enforce the law, and health care costs continue to rise.

As we witnessed with the president’s decision to force private employers — including religious organizations — to offer services that might violate their moral beliefs, every new regulation affecting health care carries a price. Unfortunately, the price is paid by those who purchase health insurance: individuals, families, employers and workers.

Yet, costly and burdensome regulations lie at the heart of the president’s health care law. For the first time in our nation’s history, employers with more than 50 employees are forced to provide government-approved health insurance. If they can’t afford insurance and are unable to fulfill this unprecedented mandate, employers face a fine of $2,000 per employee (excluding the first 30 employees).

Private citizens also are now compelled by law to purchase health insurance, whether they can afford to or not. Democrats promised their health care plan would help create millions of new jobs. However, crushing mandates by the federal government can only undermine job creation, not encourage it.
Democrats also promised their prescription for reform would lower health care costs. In fact, President Obama pledged that the average family would see premiums drop by $2,500 a year. Anyone who has taken their child to the doctor or visited an emergency room in the last two years knows this promise has been broken.

A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed the cost of a family plan increased 9 percent in 2011, topping $15,000 for the average family. And the nonpartisan health care experts at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid estimate the president’s law increases national health spending by more than $300 billion over the next decade.

ObamaCare is a flawed law that will destroy jobs and exacerbate the health care crisis facing our nation. The most glaring acknowledgment of its failure is the fact that more than 1,200 “waivers” have been given to various entities. These waivers offer temporary relief from the law’s expensive requirements. Remarkably, a vast majority of these waivers have gone to the administration’s allies, including those who support ObamaCare. Handing out special relief to favored friends while the rest of the nation struggles with the consequences of a broken law is irresponsible. Pennsylvania and the nation deserve better.

In recent months, the people of the Keystone State have received some welcome economic news. Unemployment has fallen and more Pennsylvanians are back to work. We cannot allow flawed policies from Washington to undermine the gains we’ve seen.

Together, we have personal experience practicing medicine and running a business. We know the challenges confronting our families and employers. We need a better approach to health care and job creation, one that rejects job-destroying mandates and encourages free-market solutions to lower health care costs and spur economic growth.

At 1 p.m. on Wednesday in the Butler Township Administration Building, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions will hold a public hearing to examine these important issues and the impact they have on Pennsylvania. Local employers and state representatives will discuss the very real challenges they face today and the positive solutions needed for the future.

We hope you will join us for this event.

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