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Congress Assesses Merits, Problems With National Health Care Law

February 27, 2013
By JOSELYN KING - Political Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - The nation's new health care law can mean affordable health care for many - or higher taxes for all, according to local members of Congress.

As the nation continues its path on a new direction in health care - a direction that either is good or bad, depending on who you ask - many in Washington are still trying to figure out exactly what the changes mean, and just how much it's going to cost American taxpayers.

A number of new taxes and regulations included in President Obama's Affordable Care Act are set to hit doctors, patients and businesses in a big way this year, said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

She pointed to the new medical device tax becoming effective in 2013. It requires firms that produce health devices and equipment to pay a 2.3 percent tax on gross sales, money Capito said should instead be invested in new medical concepts and new jobs.

Now, those dollars from the tax - which likely will range in the tens of millions - will go to the federal government.

"It will take years to realize the true impact of these new rules, regulations and taxes, and that means small businesses will be reluctant to hire and expand," she said.

Many agree with Capito that the federal government's rules and regulations are making it harder for businesses to plan for the future, which means many businesses will choose not to wait things out instead of reinvesting in their operations.

This is true not only for legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, but also with how Congress is handling national debt matters and every crisis that comes down the road.

One provision of the law requires all employers with more than 50 employees to provide health coverage or face a penalty from the government.

But Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, believes the good part of the new health care law is that many who presently can't receive health care services will be able to get them under Obamacare.

"The (new) health law means more than 1.2 million Ohio seniors will continue to have access to cancer screenings and wellness exams through Medicare," said Meghan Dubyak, spokesman for Brown. "Nearly 97,000 young adults in Ohio will continue to be able to stay on their parents' health insurance until they're 26. Parents of children with pre-existing conditions - like cancer, asthma, or diabetes - will no longer worry that (their children) will be unable to buy health insurance."

Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, believes health care reform under Obama "is the wrong prescription for America."

"This costly health care law contains 20 new or higher taxes on hard-working American families and small businesses that will take effect in the coming years," he said.

"Many doctors are already limiting the number of patients they are seeing, and health care costs are rising as a result of this law - neither of which President Obama said would happen when he signed health care reform into law."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., acknowledged there are some positive parts to the new health care law but added, "there are some points that are going to be onerous." He called the health care law "a work in progress."

"I'm still in the repair mode, rather than the repeal mode," Manchin said.

"If somebody has a better idea, they want to rebuild it and keep harping about it because of political reasons - tell them to show us what they want to replace it with because it wasn't working the old way."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., believes the new law fulfills the promise of affordable health care for all West Virginians, said his spokesman, Andrew Beckner.

"Sen. Rockefeller strongly believes that health care is a right, not a privilege," Beckner commented. "He will keep fighting to fully implement the health care reform law to provide affordable care for millions of Americans, and take power away from insurance companies and put consumers first; defend safety-net programs, like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security from drastic cuts; create a viable long-term care system in the U.S. so millions of Americans can get needed services and supports without impoverishing themselves; and stem the tide of prescription drug abuse in West Virginia and across the country."

Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., said the Affordable Care Act will mean higher taxes for the American people and businesses, and this will have negative effects on the economy.

"I think it will be tweaked more ...," he said of the health care law. "Now the business community is going to react to prevent the cost implications and costs to them and their investors. They're dealing with people who have pension funds invested with them, and they are going to make sure investors are getting the maximum. You're going to see some pain in this.

"Maybe that's what it takes to make people realize this bill really does need more attention."

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