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Monday, December 17 , 2018, 12:55 am | Fair 50º


Tom Donohue: Health ‘Reform’ — Promises Broken, Predictions Fulfilled

The law needs to be repealed and then replaced with market-driven initiatives

The health-care law is becoming a sad tale of promises broken and predictions fulfilled. The Obama administration promised that the sweeping overhaul of the health-care system would drive premiums down. It hasn’t, nor is it likely to — ever.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, health policy experts and business owners across the nation warned that the health-reform law would have the opposite effect. And costs are, indeed, going up.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that after several years of relatively modest premium increases, the average family’s employer-sponsored health coverage shot up nearly 10 pecent to $15,073 in 2011, with a share of that increase directly attributable to the health-care law. One New Hampshire flower shop reported that employee premiums rose a jaw-dropping 41 percent this year.

What happened to the $2,500 premium decrease Americans were promised they would see within the first term of the administration? A top White House official recently told Americans they won’t see savings until 2019.

Employees are not shouldering this burden alone — businesses are absorbing the bulk of these costs. Health reform was supposed to save employers $3,000 per worker in reduced health-care costs, freeing up cash for businesses to add to their payrolls. Instead, the survey shows that employer spending on health coverage has surged this year — the sharpest spike since 2005.

Businesses, facing rising health-care costs, will forgo the investment, expansion and job creation needed to put our economy back on track. The law could also drive employers out of providing health coverage. This would break the biggest promise of all — if patients like their care, they can keep it. Worse still, the Office of Management and Budget projects that the law could cost 800,000 Americans their jobs.

This is only the beginning. During the debate, Congress was told it had to pass the bill to find out what was in it. If only it were that simple. We probably won’t know the full impact on employers and patients for years to come. Nearly every provision is being defined through a regulatory process that will take years to complete.

We need to repeal this law, passed under the guise of “reform,” and replace it with market-driven initiatives that will reform the system. By enacting medical liability reform, raising competition among health insurers, rooting out defensive medicine, adopting sophisticated health information technology, and increasing patient flexibility through FSAs and HSAs, Congress can deliver what it promised the American people.

But if we don’t change course on health care, the law promises to do long-term damage to our nation.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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