Obamacare Comes With a Hefty Price Tag

Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulsaski)

The recent passage of Obamacare will provide 32 million uninsured individuals with health insurance coverage but it is also expected to cost $938 billion over the next 10 years. Despite the widespread opposition, controversy surrounding this bill, and the many economists and health care providers who advised that this legislation is not the answer to our nation’s healthcare problems, it passed Congress and was signed by the President.

The price tag for this healthcare is high and we will all share the burden. Taxes will increase substantially: The law increases investment income taxes; insurance companies will be taxed further, which will be passed onto the consumer; and an annual fee will be placed on health insurance providers and on manufacturers and importers of brand name drugs.

Not only will we realize more costs at the federal level, but this new law that broadly restructures healthcare in our country will have serious consequences on New York. Obamacare creates unfunded mandates for states. Nationally, the law adds 16 million new enrollees to Medicaid. The Division of Budget estimates it will cost New York approximately $300 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year and $400 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year through Medicaid mandates, among other things. We cannot afford this, especially at this time.

In a Gallop Poll released last week, nearly two thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law costs too much and expands the government’s role in health care too far. Economists predict this new law will stifle the economy and slow job growth as employers will be forced to provide health care options to employees or face a fine. Moreover, its constitutionality is in question.

I recently introduced a resolution urging Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to join state attorney generals across the nation in bringing lawsuits challenging the newly-passed federal healthcare law. A strong case can be made that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional because it requires people to purchase services or products they may not want or face a penalty.

The teeth this new law gives the Internal Revenue Service is also disconcerting. Reports indicate the law will enable the IRS to hire 16,000 additional agents and auditors to: increase audits performed; verify if Americans are carrying “acceptable” health care coverage; and confiscate tax refunds. By 2016, families can be fined as much as $2,085 if they do not show proof of having legitimate insurance coverage. Similarly, employers with more than 50 employees must provide health insurance or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker annually if any worker receives federal subsidies to purchase insurance. As one legal expert recently stated, the legislation's requirement that individuals buy health insurance exceeds the federal government's power to regulate interstate commerce under the U.S. Constitution.

I urge Attorney General Coumo to join other states to fight this law. I am not alone in this matter. The slim majority by which this legislation passed has given rise to legislation that would repeal the new healthcare law. In the meantime, states can file a lawsuit which challenges the constitutionality of such a law. I urge constituents to contact our state attorney general’s office and to have our state to join other states in a similar lawsuit.

To contact the State Attorney General’s Office, write to Office of the Attorney General The Capitol, Albany, NY 12224-0341 or visit its web site to submit your thoughts at www.ag.ny.gov/online_forms/email_ag.jsp or call 1-800-771-7755. If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this or any other state matter, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list, contact me by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us, or by phone at (315) 598-5185.