Monday, November 9, 2009

Just in from Washington

Jake Putnam photo
Simpson, Minnick Vote against H.R. 3962

Washington--Over the weekend the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962 by a vote of 220-215. Idaho Congressmen Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick voted against the bill because of 'hidden costs' of the Health Care legislation.
“Pelosi is touting that she just passed legislation to make health care more affordable," said Simpson. "But nothing could be further from the truth, the frightening reality for the American taxpayer and anyone who will need health care in the future is that she is hiding the true costs of this legislation and doing so in ways that will be disastrous to our nation’s long-term fiscal health.”

Democrat Congressman Walt Minnick also voted against the bill because of lack of home district support. "Over the last several months, I have met with thousands of constituents from all over Idaho‟s First Congressional District. They are gravely concerned about the economy, about job security, and about the kinds of opportunities their children and grandchildren will have to make a better life."

Minnick added that he had to vote with the minority because of economic concerns: "Like most of them, I believe that cutting down the cost of health care is one important step we can take in moving our economy forward. We need to reform the insurance industry by demanding accountability and increasing private-sector competition. We must reduce government spending on programs such as a Medicare, and look to Idaho for examples of ways to do just that. And we must reduce costs throughout the health-care system, so the long-term benefits of reform will truly help our economy to grow and our nation to prosper.

In addition to the TRILLION dollar cost of H.R. 3962, the bill also contains the following provisions:

· Includes a “surtax” on individuals making over a certain income, more than half of which are actually small businesses. Moreover, this tax will continue to entrap more and more middle class Americans every year as their incomes go up because, like the Alternative Minimum Tax, it is not indexed for inflation.

    • Drastically expands Medicaid, from 100% to 150% of federal poverty level. Starting in 2014, it will cost states, including Idaho, $34 billion to comply with another unfunded federal mandate--something state budgets simply cannot afford during these difficult economic times..

    • Those individuals who choose not to purchase health insurance will have to pay a penalty. Americans will no longer get to choose whether or not they will purchase health insurance in the future because government will have already made that decision.

    • People who already have health insurance through their employers will be at risk of losing it. H.R. 3962 will implement expensive new mandates on all employer-provided health insurance that businesses must either comply or be faced with new taxes and penalties. For many employers, it will make more business sense to eliminate jobs or drop employees’ health insurance.

“During a time of record budget deficits, we cannot afford to create another trillion plus dollar entitlement program, like this bill does. However, we all agree that our current health system needs reform,” said Simpson. “I will be the first to admit that it is irresponsible to just say no to the current health legislation without offering commonsense alternatives that will actually bring down the cost of health care. For these reasons, I support measures to make health care more affordable and accessible without further drowning our nation in debt.

Simpson and 66 of his colleagues have cosponsored H.R. 1086, the HEALTH Act. This bill would create effective medical malpractice reform by putting an end to junk lawsuits by placing caps on noneconomic damages and limiting attorney fees. This bill would save as much as $120 billion in wasteful spending by stemming the practice of defensive medicine.

Simpson is also a cosponsor of H.R. 2607, the Small Business Healthcare Fairness Act, which would allow small businesses to band together through associations to buy health care coverage. Large corporations and even labor unions already leverage their size and buying power to secure lower premiums and rates when buying health insurance for their employees and members. This bill would give America’s small businesses the same advantages and make health care coverage for their employees more affordable.

In addition, Simpson supports reforms that would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of pre-existing condition as well as reforms to make the purchase of health insurance for individuals tax-exempt like it is for employer-sponsored insurance. He also believes that we need to do more as a country to focus on prevention and early intervention. Simpson also supports prescription drug re-importation, which would control prescription drug costs by allowing Americans to buy FDA-approved prescription drugs from places such as Canada and Europe where drugs are sold for much less money.

“I am disappointed to see that once again, the Democrats have failed to listen to the American people and passed health reform that all Americans could support,” Simpson said.

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