A New Debate Begins

The House wisely began its legislative year with an overwhelming 245-189 vote to repeal ObamaCare and instruct committees to focus on specific actions to get reform right.

The floor debate on Wednesday provided ample opportunity to expose the damage the massive overhaul law already is doing and the Alice-in-Wonderland gimmicks that were used to get it passed.

ObamaCare?s supporters repeatedly claimed that repealing the law would increase the budget deficit. That?s because it contains, according to CBO, huge tax increases and slightly less in new spending (which isn?t true either, but more on that later).

Budget experts Doug Holtz-Eakin, Joe Antos, and Jim Capretta had the definitive article in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, taking on the claim that ?repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit by $230 billion over the coming decade.?

The health law, even by low estimates, will cost $1 trillion in new federal spending over the next decade. How can that be turned into painless deficit reduction? ?It’s all about budget gimmicks, deceptive accounting, and implausible assumptions used to create the false impression of fiscal discipline,? Holtz-Eakin, Antos, and Capretta write.

These three budget experts take the objective look at the implausible assumptions the current CBO was forced to make and blow away the other side’s arguments. ?Federal finances are buckling under the weight of unaffordable entitlement programs.? But ObamaCare?s main goal is: ?Open-ended entitlement expansion: to more people at greater expense than anytime since the 1960’s. If CBO is right, 32 million people will be added to the health entitlement rolls, at a cost of $938 billion through 2019, and growing faster than the economy or revenues thereafter.?

They also explain that the assumptions that the $1 trillion score for spending in the first ten years is also wildly off the mark; the real cost will be closer to $2.3 trillion because millions more people will sign up for the subsidies than CBO estimated.

Members also repeatedly referred to a letter signed by 200 economists saying that ObamaCare ?contains expensive mandates and penalties that create major barriers to stronger job growth. The mandates will compete for the scarce business resources used for hiring and firm expansion. The law also levies roughly $500 billion in new taxes that will enter the supply chain for medical services, raising the cost of medical services.

?At the same time that businesses juggle the potential for higher interest rates or higher taxes, these medical costs will translate to higher insurance premiums, further increasing the cost of operating a business in the United States.? Kudos to the American Action Forum for organizing this letter.

The supporters of repeal clearly won the day on Wednesday with facts and common-sense arguments against the law. Some of the most inspiring speeches were by the freshmen who were filled with passion to move forward with the right reform, saying that their constituents elected them to come to Washington to repeal this monstrosity and start over.

You won?t want to miss our Clip of the Week below for a three-minute montage of their floor statements. One Democrat quipped that now he knows why there is a physician shortage: ?So many of them have been elected to Congress? — 20 in all, counting both the House and Senate, and they are going to be a powerful force.


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Legal Challenges Are Serious: Also this week, six more states joined the Florida lawsuit challenging the health law, bringing the number to 26. The six new states are Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. In addition, Virginia has its own lawsuit, and Oklahoma is planning to file its own. Other states may follow.

Jonathan Cohn writes in The New Republic this week that the Left is taking these suits very seriously. He argues that ?the health-care repeal litigation is fundamentally more threatening than attempts to repeal the law through Congress.? This has led a number of supporters of the legislation to begin thinking of alternatives to the individual mandate -? a main target of the constitutional challenges.

With at least 28 states challenging ObamaCare in the courts, it is going to be very difficult for courts to ignore. They are lined up against this law because many believe it will cripple their budgets with its mandatory spending. Thirty-three governors wrote a letter to the congressional leadership explaining the damage it will do and asking Congress to delay and give them much more flexibility to do health reform right.


Health Law Repeal Debate: 22 Freshmen Republicans In Under 4 Minutes

In this video from Kaiser Health News, 22 Freshmen Republicans speak on repealing the health law.
Watch now >>


The Rights You Will Have with ObamaCare

Grace-Marie Turner
National Review Online: Critical Condition, 01/17/11

Turner describes 15 rights that you will have under ObamaCare when the full impact hits, such as the right to lose your job and the right to have the government decide what health insurance you must have. Everyone will have the right to pay more for health insurance as the costs soar from what will surely be a heavily loaded list of benefits that your policy must cover. Or you have the right to ask Congress to start over again and get health reform right.
Read More »

Medical Residency Ruling Will Hurt Hospitals, Care

Jason D. Fodeman
Hartford Courant, 01/19/11

Last week, the Supreme Court ended a long-standing debate over whether or not doctors-in-training, better known as medical residents, are “students” or “employees.” The nation’s high court, in its misguided wisdom, concluded residents should not be classified as students. With as much as $700 million annually in tax revenue at stake, the classification has never been just semantics. Among the unintended consequences, this decision will deprive the health care industry of badly needed funds and could harm the future of graduate medical education.
Read More »


The Repeal Vote
The Wall Street Journal, 01/20/11

129 Million Lies About ObamaCare
David Hogberg, Investors.com, 01/18/10

Health Care Repeal Won’t Add to the Deficit
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Joseph Antos, and James C. Capretta, The Wall Street Journal, 01/19/11

200 Economists and Experts Support Repeal of Healthcare Law to Promote Job Growth, Reduce Deficit
American Action Forum, 01/18/11

Assessing the Impact of Repeal: Congress Can Save up to 695,000 Jobs and Cut the Deficit by $279.7B
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Michael Ramlet, and Cameron Smith, American Action Forum, 01/18/11

ObamaCare: A Budget-Busting, Job-Killing Health Care Law
Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Eric Cantor, Rep. Dave Camp, Rep. John Kline, Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Fred Upton, 01/06/11

Time to Mandate Reporting of Mental Health Concerns
Jeffrey Geller and Sally Satel, USA Today, 01/18/11

Rolling Back ObamaCare: Eliminate the Medical Loss Ratio
Merrill Matthews, Forbes: Right Directions, 01/18/11

If They Hurry, They Can Cure ObamaCare
Leo G. Watson, The Indianapolis Star, 01/11/11

The Impact of ObamaCare
The Heritage Foundation, 01/18/11

The New and Expanded Secretarial Powers in the Health Reform Law (chart)
Center for Health Transformation, 01/11

Repeal and Replace: 10 Necessary Changes
National Center for Policy Analysis, 01/17/11

Many of the Doctor-Legislators in House Oppose Health-Care Law
Mary Agnes Carey and Marilyn Werber Serafini, Kaiser Health News and The Washington Post, 01/18/11

The 2011 National Physicians Survey: Frustration and Dismay in a Time of Change
Thomson Reuters and HCPlexus, 01/18/11


In the Nick of Time: Rhode Island’s Medicaid Waiver Shows How States Can Save Their Budgets from ObamaCare’s Assault
John R. Graham, Pacific Research Institute, 01/18/11

The Wyden-Brown Bill — Short on State Flexibility
Stuart Butler, Ph.D., The New England Journal of Medicine, 01/19/11


The Real Problem With Withdrawing Avastin
Paul Howard, Health Affairs Blog, 01/19/11

Tabloid Medicine: How the Internet is Being Used to Hijack Medical Science for Fear and Profit
Robert Goldberg, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, 12/10


Tabloid Medicine: How The Internet is Being Used to Hijack Medical Science for Fear and Profit
Center for Medicine in the Public Interest Book Discussion
Friday, January 21, 2011
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Washington, DC

Accountable Care Organizations and Competition Policy
Center for American Progress Event
Monday, January 24, 2011
12:00pm – 1:30pm
Washington, DC

Boomers Come of Age: Covering Early Retirees and Other 50-64 Year-Olds
Alliance for Health Reform Briefing
Monday, January 24, 2011
12:15pm – 2:00pm
Washington, DC

Enabling Personalized Medicine through Health Information Technology
The Brookings Institution Event
Friday, January 28, 2011
9:00am – 11:30am
Washington, DC

New Technology Informational Workshop
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Event
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
9:00am – 11:30am
Baltimore, MD

Health Care Prognosis and Prognostications
Georgia Public Policy Foundation Luncheon
Friday, February 4, 2011
Atlanta, GA
Grace-Marie Turner will join Rep. Tom Price, MD, for this policy briefing.