Cut the Bickering And Fix Health Care Law

Southwest News-Herald
By Congressman Dan Lipinski
April 1, 2011

A year ago last week, following months of careful study, I voted against the health care law. I did so because the law is not fiscally sustainable, does little to reduce costs for most Americans, threatens seniors’ access to care by cutting Medicare funding, and permits federal funding for abortion.

At the time of my vote, I committed to working to fix the law and to promoting real health care reform that reduces costs and expands coverage without bankrupting our nation.

Since then, even as the bitter ideological battles over the law have dragged on, I have stuck to my pledge, taking action to improve the law rather than using it to sow division. While others spend their time and energy bickering over the past, what is most important to me is improving the lives of people in my district and across our nation both today and into the future.

One way in which I have done so is to cosponsor H.R. 4 to repeal a provision of the health care law requiring small businesses to file an IRS 1099 form for every vendor paid over $600. Such a paperwork nightmare can only hinder job creation at a time when creating good jobs should be our top priority. This bill passed the House with bipartisan support, and I continue to urge the Senate to pass it immediately.

More recently, I moved to eliminate one of the most obviously flawed parts of the health care law, the CLASS Act, which establishes a well-intentioned but poorly designed long-term care insurance program.

The Congressional Budget Office, the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the President’s “Deficit Commission” all agree this program cannot pay for itself over the long term. In fact, even Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called the CLASS Act “totally unsustainable” as written.

To save taxpayers from having to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out this program, I helped introduce H.R. 1173 to repeal the CLASS Act. I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this bill.

Among the most controversial aspects of the health care law is its violation of the Hyde Amendment’s decades-long prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion coverage. Despite Americans’ overwhelming opposition to taxpayer-funded abortion, the law broke with the status quo in numerous ways. The president’s executive order cannot change this fact, for the simple reason that under our Constitution the president cannot rewrite legislation passed by Congress.

To ensure that taxpayer money never finances abortion, I helped introduce bipartisan legislation to apply the language of the Hyde Amendment to the health care law.

While working to fix the law, I have opposed efforts to do away with the helpful changes it made to our health care system. As I said a year ago, I support the law’s elimination of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, ban on lifetime and annual limits on coverage, and extension of coverage for dependents on their parents’ health plans.

Unfortunately, although the Republicans promised to offer legislation to “repeal and replace” the health care law, they only fulfilled the first part of their pledge. I therefore voted against a wholesale repeal of the law that would eliminate its good provisions and put us right back where we started, with a health care system in dire need of improvement and no clear path forward. I do not believe that a complete repeal without a replacement plan best serves the interests of Third District families.

Instead, we need health care reform that helps to rein in costs for the middle class, extends coverage to more Americans, preserves care for seniors, doesn’t violate the Hyde Amendment, and is viable over the long term. I look forward to continuing to work for such reform, in accordance with my pledge and my record.

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