Opinion Columns & Blogs

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer: ACA will cost Kansas businesses, families

Last month I testified before a congressional committee about how the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, will cost Kansas businesses and families.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that 41 percent of small-business owners delayed hiring new employees because of the ACA. In Kansas, the trend is no different. When Gov. Sam Brownback and I came into office, the Kansas economy was hemorrhaging private-sector jobs. With new pro-growth policies, our economy has created 45,300 new private-sector jobs, but the ACA continues to be a major roadblock threatening small-business expansion.

The economic effect of Obamacare is like ice on the wing of an airplane preventing it from taking off. It is especially damaging to those in the middle class who are missing out on new small-business jobs.

Remember when the ACA was supposed to increase competition and allow you to keep your own doctor and insurance plan? Obamacare does the opposite.

Obamacare mandates that every Kansan buy a costly commercial product. And for thousands of Kansans it will be more expensive. In other words, everyone is required to buy a luxury car with air-conditioned seats. You can’t buy a small car or a used pickup without a fine.

New Washington regulations mean that health insurance for many Kansans will be more expensive even if they qualify for huge government subsidies. A recent study by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shows how Washington drives up costs. The spin headline was that the insurance plan costs in the exchanges were less than expected – but still much more than today.

According to HHS, a 27-year-old Kansan under Obamacare can buy a “low-cost” catastrophic plan for $87 a month or a high-end plan for more than $200 a month. Even a subsidized lower-tier Obamacare plan is $103 per month. Compare that to ehealthinsurance.com, where he can choose from 58 plans from simple to Cadillac from $24 to $181 per month.

Websites set up by Washington were supposed to increase competition for insurance – and supposedly cut rates and increase choices. The reality? For some Kansans, their choices are limited to two insurance companies on the exchange. That’s fewer competing insurers than Kansas Medicaid.

While advocates argue that subsidized insurance for some may be cheaper, they leave out the fact that those same families will be saddled with trillions of government debt, interest, the cost of additional government bureaucracy, and taxes when the bill comes due.

No matter how you feel about Obamacare, everyone expects our tax dollars to be spent honestly. It is hard for taxpayers to trust a plan that uses an “honor system” to report income to receive federally subsidized insurance. For Medicaid, states – appropriately – actually verify incomes or face loss of federal funds.

Lastly, as a physician, I talk with my colleagues every day. To a person, everyone knows the law will significantly limit their capacity to practice best care. Physicians can see bureaucrats inserting themselves between patients and their doctors.

The system won’t crash and burn Jan. 1, but the strains will grow exponentially over the years. Bottom line? Obamacare is a huge overreach by Washington into the doctor-patient relationship, consumer choice and the Kansas economy.

Kansans know the best decisions are made closest to the people. We need to replace the ACA, because health care that is centralized and driven by Washington is about numbers. Health care reform that is tailored by states is about neighbors.