By Sen. Patrick Colbeck
February 12, 2013
On June 6, 2009, President Obama unleashed his plan for a government-run healthcare system that would "lower costs, improve quality and coverage, and also protect consumer choice." Today as a direct result of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare," we are seeing more taxes taken out of our middle class paychecks and the prospect of skyrocketing insurance premiums in 2014. We are seeing that "quality" is decreasing as access to the care for which you are eligible becomes a function of your age and political affiliations, not your needs. We are seeing that the administration's idea of "consumer choice" is really a case of "my way or the highway."
At least 1,231 organizations have successfully applied for waivers to Obamacare, thereby establishing a privileged class of 613,625 Americans. Clearly, there are many people concerned about this legislation.
Against this backdrop, we have a federal government that has failed to pass a budget for more than four years. Their continuing budget "resolutions" feature trillion dollar deficit after trillion dollar deficit. Why is the federal government having such difficulty balancing their budgets? Federal political dysfunction aside, the plain truth of the matter is that entitlement spending is spiraling out of control.
In contrast, our state government has not only passed our budget four months early the past two years, we have also made sure it was balanced, paid down debts and put aside funds for a rainy day. The governor and my fellow legislators have worked hard to restore a measure of fiscal stability in our state to protect our youth from an unbearable financial burden.
And now, our great state of Michigan is being asked – no, we are being told by the federal government to hitch a ride on their road to serfdom. Yes, Obamacare is indeed the law of the land. I took an oath of office to support the U.S. Constitution and the supremacy clause contained therein. I will indeed honor that oath, but I will not do so blindly. In addition to continued advocacy for the repeal of this anti-American legislation, we need to make sure that we push the envelope of compliance in favor of the residents of Michigan.
Yes, we need to lower the costs of healthcare. Yes, we need to improve quality and coverage. Yes, we need to protect consumer choice. Clearly, the Obamacare blueprint strikes out on all three goals. Thankfully, there are simple solutions that do accomplish these laudable goals with simple modifications to federal regulations. These solutions all revolve around a return to the most basic of American principles; freedom.
The first of these solutions is to simply allow the free market to participate. Keep the government focused on government safety net programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Let the private sector provide healthcare services outside of the shackles of a government-run exchange. Allow multiple private sector "exchanges" to connect with government systems that determine eligibility for government assistance for their customers. Competition will drive down prices, improve quality, and provide more consumer choice.
The second of these solutions is to stop the federal government from telling us what kind of healthcare we must have. Every state already has a unique set of insurance coverage mandates. We don't need the federal government piling on with national mandates. We need to remove the federal regulatory authority to define "essential benefits" when it comes to health insurance. In addition to driving up healthcare costs, this regulatory authority has resulted in objectionable infringements on religious liberty.
As of Jan. 31, 2013, 25 states have said no to state-based exchanges. Much has been made of states being granted the opportunity to create their own exchanges. What our citizens need to know is that while these exchanges might be "created" by the states or even "operated" by the states, they are not "controlled" by the states. The federal government makes all of the rules.
The federal government is playing entitlement "hot potato" with the states regarding your health and wealth. They are now attempting to pass their hot potato of debt and out-of-control budgets to the hardworking residents of Michigan. My fellow Michiganders, we need to avoid the bait and switch.
The 7th State Senate District is located in Wayne county and includes: Belleville city, Brownstown Twp, Canton Twp, Flat Rock city, Gibraltar city, Grosse Ile Twp, Huron Twp, Northville city (part), Northville Twp, Plymouth city, Plymouth Twp, Rockwood city, Sumpter Twp, Trenton city, Van Buren Twp and Woodhaven city.