The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

July 22, 2013

Keith Rothfus | Providing relief from Obamacare mandates

JOHNSTOWN — President Obama made many promises when promoting his health care law. He promised that if you liked your coverage, you could keep it. He promised that it would lower the cost of premiums. He promised that it would create jobs and promote economic growth.

These promises have fallen short, both in western Pennsylvania and around the country.

In fact, some of the health care law’s biggest champions have recently acknowledged its failures. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), one of its principal authors and staunchest advocates, recently called it a “train wreck.”

Even the leaders of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and UNITE-HERE, groups that championed the health care law, recently warned that it would “destroy the foundation of the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

The fact remains that the president’s government-centered health care approach is coming off the rails. Now the president is picking who gets a break from his health care law and who doesn’t.

President Obama recently postponed the mandate on large employers to purchase a government-approved health plan for their employees. In so doing, he has conceded that the law is unworkable for business.

If businesses deserve a break from Obamacare, why don’t the rest of the American people?

A mom who works at a food- service company in Beaver County called my office last week to talk for an hour about how the law is impacting her family. She just had her hours cut by almost half, thanks to the employer mandate. Her husband’s job security is also now at risk. The lost hours, income and job security have made it difficult for them to afford the necessities of life and will make it almost impossible to send their daughter to college next year.

Unfortunately, this family’s story is hardly unique. A recent survey released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicated that three out of four small businesses are planning to cut jobs, reduce hours or shift full-time employees to part-time work.

Obamacare is also driving up the cost of premiums and reducing access to care. Individuals and small groups in Pennsylvania could see their premiums increase by 30 percent and 27 percent, respectively, according to a recent survey of insurance companies conducted by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that healthy consumers could pay double or even triple what they are paying now when they look for individual coverage under President Obama’s health care law.

So much for the president’s promise that you could keep your health care plan if you liked it, or that it would create  jobs, promote economic growth and lower the cost of premiums.

These promises ring hollow to the family in Beaver County and millions of their neighbors across America.

These folks deserve a permanent break from President Obama’s train-wrecked health care law.

This past week, the House of Representatives did what President Obama has refused to do and voted to delay the individual mandate, along with the employer mandate. This legislation provides workers, small- business owners and families much-needed relief from Obamacare’s mandates.

The legislation is an important first step, but real health care reform must start with a permanent delay.

President Obama’s health care law must be repealed. Only then will we have the opportunity to find patient-driven reforms that put the doctor-patient relationship first, increase access to care and reduce costs.

The American people want workable, common-sense and patient-centered reforms. They want reforms that will ensure they can get the care they need, from  a doctor of their choice, and at a price they can afford.

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus of Allegheny County represents the 12th Congressional District, which includes parts of Cambria and Somerset counties.

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