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George LeMieux

Health law will be costly for Floridians

The nation's new health care law represents a monumental series of missed opportunities.

Instead of lowering the cost of health care for Americans, this law will increase costs.

Instead of fixing the health care programs for seniors and those who cannot afford insurance, this law cuts Medicare and adds more people to the failing Medicaid system. This law actually cuts $529 billion out of Medicare, the health care plan serving more than 3 million of Florida's seniors, to create a new entitlement program.

Instead of letting people keep their existing health care plans, this law will force many families out of their current coverage.

For Floridians, the new law means:

• More than 985,000 Floridians enrolled in Medicare Advantage will likely have their benefits reduced. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicts a decrease in Medicare Advantage enrollment somewhere between 33 percent and 64 percent.

•Reports from the Congressional Budget Office, the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicate Florida's small businesses employing 50 or more people will pay either higher health care costs or a new penalty because of new government mandates.

• Many of Florida's 1.2 million college students will continue to pay 6.8 percent interest on unsubsidized student loans. The health care law allows the federal government to take over the student loan program, saving what CBO estimates is $61 billion over 10 years. But instead of passing those savings on in the form of lower interest rates, students will continue paying the current rate and some of the savings will fund new health care programs.

• Based on an Oliver Wyman study, the youngest 30 percent of Floridians will pay 35 percent more as premiums rise in the individual market.

• Approximately 4.45 million Floridians making less than $200,000 will pay higher taxes, based on estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation.

• Every Floridian's share of the national debt will increase when the cost of paying doctors to see Medicare patients is included.

• There will be $8,470 in new government spending for every Floridian.

• 1.5 million low-income Floridians will be added to Florida's Medicaid program even though only 50 percent of doctors nationally are willing to see new Medicaid patients.

Floridians deserve better.

We should have taken a step-by-step approach to fixing what is wrong with our health care system. Left unaddressed after this debate is how to make Medicare solvent for the future, how to effectively reduce and eliminate the estimated $60 billion in Medicare waste, fraud and abuse, and how to make insurance plans more price competitive.

I will continue working with my colleagues to repeal the ill-conceived portions of the changes to our health care system and work to ensure all families have access to affordable, quality health care.

George LeMieux is a U.S. senator from Florida.

Health law will be costly for Floridians 04/07/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 7:04pm]
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