Health care decisions don’t belong to feds

Freedom New Mexico

A year of contentious debate finally concluded this week following overwhelming votes of both houses of Congress to repeal a relatively small, but typically onerous, requirement of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Oddly enough, the president said he was pleased that Congress corrected “a flaw” in Obamacare that would have placed unnecessary bookkeeping burdens on small businesses, requiring them to file an IRS Form 1099 for every vendor or individual they pay more than $600 in a year. The president apparently hadn’t noticed the burdensome flaw when he signed the law last year.

We are chagrined that the president still refuses to see numerous other burdensome costs and regulations imposed by Obamacare that will do far more damage. Although it remains an uphill battle, we encourage Congress to continue efforts to repeal the law passed in a rush by the then-Democratic-controlled Congress, bringing virtually the entire health care industry under government control.

President Obama was expected to sign the 1099-form repeal, which congressional Republicans called “a down payment on total repeal.” Most Democrats said this week’s action merely improved last year’s law.

If the president signs the measure, it will be the first success in repealing any part of his national health-care overhaul. Democrats and Republicans agreed the 1099 provision would have unduly burdened small businesses. But bills were introduced seven times in the past year to repeal the provision because agreement could not be reached on how to “pay for” removing it.

In the perverse parlance of Washington, Congress considers taxpayers’ money to belong to the government, so denying the government receipt of tax revenue must be “paid for.” The final bill covered the estimated $22 billion lost revenue by forcing greater repayment of health insurance subsidies for families whose income unexpectedly exceeds permitted thresholds.

The quibbling over repeal of such an obviously unnecessary, burdensome and costly regulation does not bode well for Republicans, who seek to completely undo Obamacare, whose major provisions go into effect in 2014.

Nevertheless, we’re hopeful the proposal by House Republicans this week to reduce government spending and recast health care policies can succeed. Essentially, the plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would transform Medicare, the government entitlement program for the elderly, into a consumer-driven approach to encourage individuals to shop for private insurance with costs partially offset by government subsidies.

The soon-to-be bankrupt Medicare program and the even worse addition of Obamacare are economically unsustainable, and give government control of what should be personal health decisions. We believe the free market and rescinding government mandates and regulations can bring down costs and reduce the need for government involvement.