Flaws in healthcare law coming to light (Rep. Cliff Stearns)

When Congress passed the massive healthcare bill, I said that it would lead to millions of Americans losing their current healthcare plans.  I was so concerned about this happening that I offered an amendment to the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee and at the Rules Committee to protect people’s health plans.

It was a very simple amendment.  It stated that, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent or limit individuals from keeping their current health coverage.”  This amendment was voted down in committee, and the Rules Committee prevented it from being offered on the House floor during debate on the healthcare bill.

Fast-forward six months and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued the rules that govern “grandfathered” health plans.  These are health plans that existed before the passage of the Democrat bill and could continue to operate as they have without all the new costly mandates and regulations that the Health Czar will impose.

Unfortunately, the rule governing grandfathered health plans is so restrictive that most of the current health plans will not qualify.  Businesses will be forced to buy new health plans under the control of the federal Health Czar. How many will lose their current health plan?  Up to 80 percent of small businesses will be forced to buy new Democrat-health-care-law approved plans.  Up to 64 percent of large businesses with health plans will be forced to buy the new Democrat-health-care-law approved plans.

Now you may wonder, where do I get these numbers?  They are in the HHS regulations.  These HHS regulations on grandfathered health plans clearly state that up to 80 percent of small businesses and up to 64 percent of large businesses will lose their current plans.  They admit that it will force people out of their current health plans.

Healthcare reform should be about giving consumers more options, more choices -- not forcing them out of the plans they currently enjoy.

Yet, despite hurting small businesses for having health plans that do not meet the “high standards” set by HHS, just this month, the Obama Administration recently gave waivers to organization health plans that do not meet the requirements of the healthcare law.  

These plans fail to meet the law’s definition of minimal coverage.  However, the Obama Administration provided waivers to over 100 organizations, many of them unions, who offered limited-benefits health plans that do not comply with the law.  If the law is good, why do you need to provide exemptions from it?

Another problem with the Democrat healthcare plan is it will require all those with business-to-business transactions over $600 annually to file a 1099 IRS Form. This is a massive burden for small businesses and will force millions of them to track all their expenditures by vendors and require small businesses to obtain taxpayer information numbers from everyone they do business with.

So, has Congress tried to fix this problem?  No.  In fact, Democrats have taken it a step further.  The recently passed Small Business Jobs Act (HR 5297) included a provision that would expand the 1099 reporting requirement even further to include expenditures on rental property.  This means that if you spend more than $600 over the course of a year with a handyman for repairs or improvements, you’ll need to file a 1099 Form.

Imagine: if you work as a general contractor and regularly buy building material from a hardware store, you’ll need to issue the store a 1099 Form.  If you are a trucker and regularly buy gasoline from the same gas station, you’ll need to issue that gas station a 1099 Form.

It is outrageous to require additional burdens on small businesses.  Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.  Small businesses employ just over half of all private sector employees and 44 percent of total U.S. private sector payroll.  Small businesses have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.

Yet, despite a massive recession and double-digit unemployment, this Administration is finding new ways to hurt small businesses and prevent job growth. Adding new, burdensome paperwork will not help small businesses or help spur job growth.  This provision had nothing to do with healthcare. It was included as a $19.2 billion revenue measure to help make the Democrat healthcare plan affordable at the expense of our small businesses.

This healthcare law will make coverage more expensive and severely harm small businesses.  This is not the reform the American people sought.