Views President Obama as being overly belligerent toward Supreme Court
In response to a “Dear Friend” letter Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) sent to constituents reiterating her support for President Obama’s health care law, one of her Republican counterparts is calling for an “incremental” approach to health care reform that expands consumer choice and lowers costs.
After attending oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court attached to the cases challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care legislation, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) is convinced the entire law, not just the individual mandate, should be overturned.
“There is no severability clause in the law, so if one part is unconstitutional, then I think the rest should be repealed,” he said. “Congress has an obligation to go back and look at what we know works and that is a patient centered, market based system. But we should avoid these massive bills and move incrementally.”
In her letter, Landrieu claims the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), has produced “clear and convincing benefits” for Louisiana residents.
Landrieu cited some of the following examples in her letter:
“52,932 Louisiana seniors on Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their prescription drugs when they fell into the donut hole last year.”
“5,000 Louisiana young adults have gained health coverage now that children may remain on their parents’ coverage until they turn 26.”
“More than 275,000 Louisiana women can now also receive free mammograms, bone density scans and cervical cancer screenings without a co-pay.”
But the Senator is overlooking some key points, Boustany said.
For starters, he notes, revised estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) show that health care premiums will rise at a faster rate than they would have if the law was not passed. The PPACA will cost $1.76 trillion over the next 10 years as opposed to the $940 billion that was projected when the health care bill became law, according to the updated estimate. Moreover, the CBO numbers demonstrate that contrary to President Obama’s reassurances, existing coverage plans could be jeopardized since employers would be unable absorb the costs associated with the new federal health care requirements, Boustany said.
The Heritage Foundation has put out a report that projects the average cost of employer provided insurance will rise by $5.51 per hour for each new full-time employee.
Boustany also expressed concern over the impact the federal health care law would have on Medicaid costs. President Obama’s health care law calls for state Medicaid programs to be expanded to the point where they cover non-pregnant, non-elderly individuals who have an income up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Moreover, states are required to utilize a “five percent income disregard,” which means that Medicaid eligibility actually reaches 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
“We are experiencing physician shortages here because many of them are not seeing Medicaid patients because of the reimbursement problems, “Boustany observed. “This means we expect to see more of our health care services directed to the emergency room.”
ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion could force states to make cuts in other areas such as secondary and higher education in order to close budget gaps, Christopher Jaarda, president of the American Health Care Education Coalition (AHEC) has warned.
The Supreme Court hearings on the PPACA, which stem from appeals to federal court rulings in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, should serve to clarify the appropriate role of each branch of government, Boustany suggested.
“I don’t want the court legislating from the bench and trying to parcel out and decide what piece of the law stays and what doesn’t,” he said. “Ultimately, that should go back to Congress. It is the court’s role to decide what is constitutional, and it’s pretty clear that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and I would say the law in its entirety is unconstitutional.”
While each branch should be open to criticism, Boustany is concerned that President Obama has become overly belligerent toward the Supreme Court. If the health care law were overturned, Obama has said the justices would be taking an “unprecedented and extraordinary step.”
“One of the hallmarks of our system is that we do have a government that honors the separation of powers,” Boustany said. “I do see an attempt by this administration to unduly influence, if not threaten the Supreme Court.”