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Health Care Concerns Loom

By Rep. Adrian Smith

The health care insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, are scheduled to open in less than six weeks, but evidence continues to build the law is not working the way the President and other supporters said it would.  The Administration now acknowledges insurance premiums will increase as a result of Obamacare, at least 7 million Americans will lose their employer-provided insurance because of the law, and employers are not hiring and many are reducing workers’ hours to avoid costly mandates.

Americans are right to be concerned, and many are speaking out.  This week, I hosted three health care meetings across the Third District to discuss concerns and questions about the implementation of Obamacare.  Not surprisingly, the majority of the participants in each of these meetings are worried the cost of their health care will go up, and they will lose the coverage they currently enjoy.

At the first stop, I heard from a woman who will lose her current coverage at the end of this year because her carrier is leaving the Nebraska market due to Obamacare.  She is self-employed and has a pre-existing condition, but was happy with the coverage she had.  As of now, she does not know what coverage she will be able to get, or how much it will cost her.

I also heard from constituents who were upset about the Administration’s end-runs around Congress to selectively enforce the law, including the employer-mandate.  While big businesses and insurance companies will get a temporary break from costly provisions of Obamacare, hardworking American families and individuals will still be forced to buy expensive insurance they might not need or want, or be subject to a fine.

Other Nebraskans expressed concern about the enormous costs the law will have to taxpayers, more than $1 trillion in the first 10 years, which will add to an already sky-high national debt.

Despite the large costs and many problems, the President’s signature health care law does not address the underlying problem of health care costs.  The American people are upset because the cost of insurance is too high, putting quality care out of reach for many, and burdening those who get sick with bills they cannot afford to pay.  It is becoming increasingly clear the new law is making these problems worse, not better.

Rather than continuing to stall full implementation and create special carveouts for the politically-connected, we need to permanently repeal this misguided law for all Americans.  We must continue to seek repeal because the majority of Obamacare funding is mandatory, and not subject to the annual appropriations process – meaning even efforts to defund the bill would not stop its most harmful provisions.

After my health care public meetings over the last week, I am more convinced than ever this law is the wrong prescription for America’s health care problems.  I hope my colleagues and President Obama are also taking advantage of the August work period to listen to the people they were elected to represent.  When we return to Washington in September, I will remain committed to finding agreement to rolling back this overreach of the federal government and seek real reforms to address America’s health care needs.