Cost of ObamaCare is too high

When it comes to cutting spending, Congress has made significant strides over the past few weeks to try and undo the damage caused by the Democrats’ spending spree over the last four years. But we can only fully move toward restoring fiscal responsibility if we stop wasteful spending at its source. Repealing and defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare,” would do just that. And unless we do it, this bill will sink our local and federal governments further into debt.

On the local level, state officials have expressed serious concerns during the past year over rising Medicaid costs under ObamaCare. According to the National Association of State Budget Officers, Medicaid is currently the largest item in state budgets, consuming approximately 21 percent of annual expenditures. And in 2014, when most provisions of the bill are set to kick in, this percentage will skyrocket, as an additional 16 million people are added to Medicaid rolls.

State budgets — already stretched thin — will be at their breaking point once this Medicaid expansion occurs. Even with reforms to Medicaid in some states, and the federal government covering a portion of the cost, it still won’t be enough to prevent most states from encountering an untenable financial situation. This has been made clear by a majority of states requesting to adjust Medicaid program requirements. Under considerable budget pressures, 33 governors recently wrote to the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to request that she lift ObamaCare’s Maintenance of Effort requirement, which will restrict the ability of states to cut their Medicaid programs prior to the mandatory expansion in 2014.

But this necessary expansion isn’t the only cost incurred by states under the president’s healthcare law. The bill also includes provisions that severely limit the ability of state legislatures to enact cost-saving reforms to prevent Medicare fraud. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has seen an increase in organized-crime groups becoming involved in healthcare fraud for the lucrative benefits it offers, according to FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry.

Allowing states to add increased fraud protection seems like an obvious way to avoid wasted healthcare costs. However, ObamaCare prevents states from fully protecting the interests of the program — all at a cost to U.S. taxpayers.

Not only has ObamaCare left states in an ominous position with few available options for spending cuts, it continues to eat away at the national budget. As Republicans work day and night to cut spending, there are unavoidable spending requests continuously manifesting. For example, the IRS requested more than 1,000 new auditors, staff and facilities at a price of more than $359 million in Fiscal Year 2012 simply to oversee implementation of the healthcare law.

The IRS said that the changes to the tax laws are so significant with the new mandates in ObamaCare that massive increases in spending and bureaucracy will be required. This situation is proof that the law does not only affect our health policy, but is contributing to more spending, more government and more waste.

Leaving such an egregious example of profligate spending in place undermines our efforts to restore fiscal sanity elsewhere. What is worse is that the law doesn’t fully take effect until 2014, at which point more unforeseen costs will likely emerge.

Our nation cannot afford to allow this to continue, which is why defunding the healthcare law is imperative to implementing effective and cost-

cutting reforms. A recent survey of economists showed that the U.S. budget deficit is currently the biggest threat facing our economy. This undoubtedly hinders investment, growth and employment at a time when we desperately need it.

We need to start looking at the bigger picture if we want to truly reduce our national debt, and one thing is clear — ObamaCare does not fit into that picture. It promotes huge government, will cost us nearly $2 trillion and is the exact kind of legislation that got us into this financial predicament in the first place. By removing ObamaCare and its wasteful spending, we can continue our good-faith efforts to bring about true budget reforms to sustain our future generations.

Gingrey is a member of the House subcommittee on Health.