Updated February 23 at 11:56am
3/16/10 05:13PM

Healthcare Reform Bill Will Make RI Sick

STATEMENT FROM THE CANDIDATE – John Robitaille: The current version of the health care reform legislation being rammed through Congress is an overt attack on the US Constitution and will have …


The current version of the health care reform legislation being rammed through Congress is an overt attack on the US Constitution and will have dire consequences for Rhode Island. Plagued with secret deals to buy votes in Nebraska, Louisiana, Florida, Montana and Hawaii this bill is grossly bloated with pork. These disturbing back room deals continue to be brought to light as thousands of pages of this bill come under close scrutiny.

If the bill does becomes law, health care costs in Rhode Island will rise and there will be a dramatic increase in Federal spending. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) already confirmed the Senate bill would raise health insurance premiums for families by an average of $2,100. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have stated that the Senate bill will not lower health care costs but will add hundreds of billions of dollars in its first 10 years alone.

The White House proposal - increasing healthcare subsidies, plus an additional $1 billion for new federal bureaucracies – would raise both overall health care spending and the related federal share. It would also raise taxes on drug manufacturers and insurers by $101 billion – a cost that the CBO concluded “would be largely passed along to consumers in the form of higher premiums for private coverage.”

The White House also proposes a near tripling of the “fair share” penalty for employers included in the Senate-passed bill from $750 to $2,000 – creating an even higher tax on jobs for companies that cannot afford to offer health care coverage. This job-killing provision could potentially force some employers to lower wages, delay hiring, or even lay people off. Rhode Island employers cannot afford this new tax and it will drive some into an economic death spiral!

Provisions of this bill also levy a tax on individuals who decide not to purchase “government approved” health insurance, prohibits states from making changes to their Medicaid programs, while requiring states to enroll 15 million new individuals in Medicaid coverage. These unfunded mandates will cost states nearly $35 billion in the bill’s first 10 years. Likewise, the White House version includes a vast expansion in Medicaid programs that would impose tens of billions of dollars in unfunded mandates on already cash-strapped states like Rhode Island. This will certainly widen an already onerous budget gap here in RI.

Also, this bill requires the use of federal dollars to subsidize plans that cover abortions – even if specific states opt-out of offering such plans on their insurance exchanges. It will also take $500 billion out of Medicare just when the baby boomer generation is becoming eligible for benefits. There are no tort reform provisions or other attempts to drive costs down. It’s simply an attempt to expand entitlements at the cost of all US taxpayers.

Where is the transparency and bipartisanship our president promised? While we certainly need health care reform, this is nothing more than the “my way or the highway” partisan politics that has outraged Americans since this administration has taken over. It appears that a self-imposed deadline is a higher priority than good public policy.

I ask all Rhode Islanders to join me in opposition to this bill. Call or email our congressional delegation and tell them we want real health care reform that addresses cost containment, tort reform, portability and competition. We don’t need a new bloated federal program, higher taxes and more entitlements.

John Robitaille

Republican Candidate for Governor

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