This article is an op-ed and the opinions therein may or may not be reflected by the staff, founders, or contributors of I Am A Texan, LLC.
By Sen. Ted Cruz
Three years after the Affordable Care Act passed, it’s proved to be neither affordable nor caring.
Insurance premiums are skyrocketing. Seniors are losing health care choices. Millions of Americans are being pushed into a struggling and ineffective Medicaid system. Americans are grappling with scores of new taxes. Employers are slashing jobs and hours to avoid complying with Obamacare requirements.
This isn’t what was promised. Americans were told if Obamacare was made law, they would be able to keep their health plans, taxes wouldn’t go up, premiums would go down, and more jobs would be created. But the law isn’t living up to its label. And it’s hurting working families, young people, poor minorities and seniors the most.
Before Obamacare was adopted, President Barack Obama pledged that American families would pay $2,500 less for their insurance premiums by the end of his first term. Today, they are paying $3,000 more — a $5,500 swing between what was promised and reality. Young people will be particularly impacted, with the Energy and Commerce Committee estimating that recent college graduates with entry-level jobs who are struggling to pay off student loan debt could see their premiums increase between 145 and 189 percent on average.
As health costs are going up, jobs are becoming harder to obtain — a double dose of economic pain for those worrying about making ends meet. The Federal Reserve recently reported in its annual “beige book,” which analyzed economic data from across the country, that “employers in several districts cite the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.”
This is terrible news for Americans already suffering from disproportionately high unemployment rates. Currently, the unemployment rate for people who didn’t graduate from high school is more than 12 percent. Hispanics have an unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent, and the African-American unemployment rate is over 14 percent.
Small businesses are discouraged from growing and hiring these folks. Indeed, Obamacare is designed to keep small business small. Once an employer has 50 employees on payroll, expensive compliance requirements are triggered. The approximately $1 trillion in new Obamacare taxes Americans will pay over the next 10 years, as scored by the Joint Committee on Taxation, will go to the government instead of private-sector paychecks.
For those who already can’t find jobs, all this will make it even more difficult — especially for those seeking low-skilled work. The Heritage Foundation found that “workers who cannot produce at least $20,000 a year” for a single plan, or “$27,500 per year” for a family plan “of value to their employers will have serious difficulty finding full-time jobs.”
When I read those statistics, I think of my father, who came to America as a Cuban immigrant in 1957. He was penniless, could not speak English and worked for 50 cents an hour washing dishes. At the time, he couldn’t come close to producing $20,000 worth of economic value, but he needed that job to climb up the economic ladder and help pay his way through college. It’s what enabled him to graduate, get a higher paying job and start a small business.
If Obamacare had been in place when he was looking for work back then, he may have never been hired.
More and more employers are dropping health care coverage because of the burdens associated with Obamacare, too. The Congressional Budget Office estimates up to 7 million people will lose their employer-provided health insurance by 2020.
In Texas, one of the largest insurance markets in the country, every single carrier has dropped its child-only health insurance coverage.
According to the Office of Actuary at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Obamacare will reduce enrollment in the Medicare Advantage program from 14.8 million to 7.4 million by 2017.
So much for “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
Americans deserve access to affordable health care that suits their needs and an environment where jobs are plentiful. But Obamacare is standing between them and those opportunities.
Congress can help, and the first step is repealing Obamacare. That is why, fulfilling my promise to Texas voters, the first legislation I filed as a senator will do just that. And it is why I have twice pushed for votes to undo Obamacare, which Senate Republicans unanimously supported.
There’s not a moment to waste. Because the longer Obamacare remains the law of the land, the more damage it is certain to do.
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