Repeal law and restore decisionmaking to patients

There are problems in our healthcare system for which solutions are needed. As a physician for nearly 30 years, I have witnessed them firsthand. Every day in this country, too many Americans find quality healthcare services beyond their grasp because they either cannot afford them or are struggling with a chronic illness that insurance will not cover.  

I believe that healthcare reform does not require a one-size-fits-all system driven by bureaucrats, one in which the many must sacrifice what they have in order to provide others with the care they seek. Every American should be able to see a physician of their choice, to afford the healthcare services that make our country a leader in care and to be productive members of our society. 

We can achieve these goals through comprehensive insurance reforms — including credits for low-income Americans and constructing safety nets for those with a chronic illness — without taking coverage and treatment decisions away from patients. In this way, we can ensure healthcare remains viable both as a system of quality and choice.

President Obama and the Democratic Party promised solutions for the problems in our healthcare system at the start of the 111th Congress, and before legislation was introduced to the public, a clear majority of Americans took them at their word. Whether in need or not, they put their faith in this majority to fix what is broken.  

However, once legislation was finally introduced last year, Americans began to read the fine print. And in those thousands of pages, they started to understand the health reform mantra was being used as an excuse to give their healthcare decisions over to the federal government. The polling done since then has been clear — this is not the reform the American people want.   

Unfortunately, the opposition to Obamacare is not only a result of the governments’ increased role in our healthcare decisions. Americans also realize this legislation threatens their ability to provide for their families by laying the costs of reform chiefly on their employers. These are costs that would hurt wage and business growth in a healthy economy and prove to be devastating them in an economy struggling to recover.   

For businesses, consider the main mechanism to pay for Obamacare is a web of new taxes and mandates. These costs are already producing negative results: Businesses have been forced to file billion-dollar losses with the SEC, outsource jobs to other countries and even contemplate doing away with the health plans they currently offer employees. 

But what if the costs of reform continue to rise, as many predict they will. Does anyone actually believe these taxes will remain flat or that new mandates won’t be levied on businesses to offset these costs? 

According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce letter sent to President Obama in July, “the Congressional majority and the administration have injected tremendous uncertainty into economic decision making and economic planning, [the main reason] why banks are reluctant to lend and why American corporations are sitting on well over a trillion dollars.” The future of our economic recovery, as the Chamber letter suggests, hinges on our ability as a nation to address this economic uncertainty. If we fail to do so, more and more Americans might see their wages suffer if they are fortunate enough to have employment.   

The quality healthcare my patients relied upon existed to provide them with a better quality of life. Obama-care, on the other hand, threatens to diminish that quality by giving their healthcare decisions to the federal government and making them pay for it with lower wages and job loss. If this legislation has created uncertainty in the minds of businesses — and if our economic recovery and workers’ monthly income are indeed threatened by this uncertainty — our path forward is clear. We must repeal and replace not only Obamacare but a Democratic majority that seems out of touch with main street America. Until we do, I fear for the health and welfare of our patients and our nation.

Rep. Gingrey is an obstetrician and sits on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health