WASHINGTON, D.C. | February 22, 2012
Today’s hearing is a timely and important event. I think it is critical for members of Congress to get outside the Beltway and hear from the men and women whose lives are affected by the policies advanced in the nation’s capitol.
The recent recession ended almost three years ago, yet we continue to struggle with a difficult and sluggish economy. Our state needs jobs. We’ve been fortunate to experience modest progress recently as more Pennsylvanians are working today than a year ago. However, this progress still does not make up for the devastation caused by the economic downturn. We must make sure federal policies support continued gains, and are not permitted to undermine the growth we’ve seen here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
I am grateful for the opportunity today to listen to folks in this room describe the challenges facing families in the Keystone state, and learn what you see coming on the horizon. Regrettably, I don’t have to tell you that numerous new mandates and regulations will soon threaten our workplaces, thanks to the health care law many of us have dubbed “ObamaCare.”
Employer-provided health insurance is critical to the health care needs of many Pennsylvania families. Roughly 54 percent of Pennsylvanians receive insurance through an employer, slightly more than the national average. As a business owner, I, like so many employers, am keenly aware that shifts in health care policies can have a dramatic impact on my business. The costs associated with health insurance can often determine whether an employer is able to raise wages or hire new workers.
You noted, Mr. Chairman, a recent Gallup survey of small businesses currently not looking to add new workers. It is deeply troubling that one out of every two small business owners may not be hiring due to concerns of rising health care costs and government regulations. This kind of fear and uncertainty among the country’s top job creators poses a clear threat to our economic recovery and future job creation.
I know some prefer to focus on a few provisions in the law that continue to receive bipartisan support, such as providing coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. However, this debate has never been about whether we help those who need help. The choice has never been between doing nothing and supporting a government takeover of health care.
It has and continues to be about the degree to which we allow the federal government to dictate some of the most personal decisions in our lives. The recent regulatory action taken by the president that will force private employers to offer health services they find morally objectionable demonstrates Washington has gone too far.
We can enact smart, responsible reforms that will lower costs and expand access to care without putting the federal government in charge of one-sixth of our nation’s economy. Those who would have us believe that change is only possible through more government control and spending do the nation a great disservice.
We have a responsibility to chart a different course and our witnesses today will help us to do just that. Rest assured, we will bring your thoughts to Washington, D.C. and use them to persuade our reluctant colleagues that it is time to repeal ObamaCare, get government out of the way of our job creators, and work toward commonsense solutions that help expand access to affordable health care for the American people.
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