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McKeon calls government health care takeover a mistake

Posted: July 16, 2009 3:56 p.m.
Updated: July 16, 2009 6:03 p.m.
 
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have taken another discouraging step in the direction of a full government takeover of our nation's health care system with the recent introduction of their federally run health care plan.

Their plan is to have bureaucrats determine what and when Americans receive medical treatments, if at all, and to do so on the backs of small business owners.

This is not the type of medical care I want for me, my family, or any of you.

It's unfortunate that the majority rejected an opportunity to craft bipartisan legislation and rushed introduction of a massive 1,018-page bill with a trillion dollar price tag that increases taxes, restricts care, and hurts the economy.

There is no doubt that real reform to our country's health care system is critically needed. Having over 30 million American citizens living their daily lives without health insurance is unacceptable. Providing all Americans access to quality medical care is the key issue here, however, establishing a government-run system is not the solution.

Unfortunately, the Democrats' bill takes direct aim at small business owners by adding hefty new taxes, thereby further crippling the middle-class and adding stress to an already weakened economy. The President and Speaker of the House continue to push a government-run health care plan without considering the consequences.

The "pay or play" mandate in this bill will be a back-breaker for small businesses. Under the Democrats' plan, businesses that decide they want an alternative to a government-run system will be subject to considerable new taxes based on the dollar amounts of their payrolls.

For example, if you own a small business and have a payroll of $350,000 to $400,000, and opt out of or simply cannot afford to enroll in a federally-backed plan, your taxes will increase by 6 percent. If your payroll is more than $400,000, you will be hit even harder with an 8 percent tax. This will result in at least $32,000 in new taxes under this ill-conceived proposal.

This strong-arming of our nation's small businesses at a time when we need them the most is arcane and reckless. Small businesses create two-thirds of the nation's new jobs and 98 percent of the new businesses in this country are considered small businesses.

A July 15 Wall Street Journal article titled "Small Business Faces Big Bite" highlighted the knock on America's entrepreneurs, stating:
"House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled sweeping health-care legislation that would hit all but the smallest businesses with a penalty equal to 8 percent of payroll if they fail to provide health insurance to workers."

And it's not just if they don't provide health insurance, it is if they don't opt in to the government-run system. Since the Democrats' bill introduction, a coalition of 31 groups representing almost every segment of our economy and employing millions of Americans sent a letter to Congress and raised serious concerns about House Democrats' expensive government takeover of health care.

Groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the bill would hurt the economy, destroy jobs, and reduce access to affordable health care.

I began my career as a small-business proprietor in California and know first-hand the difficult choices that small business owners face every day. Tragically, many politicians in Washington don't have this type of experience and will never know what it is like to meet payroll each month.

If I am a small business owner who can't afford to buy into one of the government-sanctioned health insurance plans, how could I afford another $32,000 in taxes?

Either way, this is a tax on small business, not to mention the 2.5 percent tax that will be levied against individuals who opt out of a government-approved health plan.

Conversely, Republicans offered common sense health care reforms that would bolster individual decision making, increase cost savings, and improve access to care. Our reform alternatives have gone ignored and American families, small businesses, and Seniors deserve better.

Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. dictating the terms of an "acceptable" health plan means a loss of freedom for all Americans. "Pay or play," mandates on businesses and individuals and a "public plan" option lead to rationing of health care. It will be a sad day when American citizens, who currently enjoy the freedom to choose their own doctors, must wait weeks, or months, to receive the treatment they need.

It is my hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will take a step back to examine how universal health care will impact American workers and families and include Republicans in the process of drafting needed health care reform legislation that encourages innovation, reduces the burden on small business, and helps struggling families afford medical coverage.

As a member of the House Republican Health Care Solutions working group, I know we can achieve these goals without raising taxes.

Republicans stand ready to work with the President to find better solutions, because a government takeover of health care is a mistake we cannot afford to make.

Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, a Republican, represents the 25th District of California in the U.S. Congress. He is the leading Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, a senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, and a member of the House GOP Health Care Solutions Group. His views represent his own and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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