ON THURSDAY, the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Regardless of its constitutionality, there are a number of reasons why a heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all health care law imposed by Washington is not the right answer for Massachusetts, or the nation.
We all want affordable health care for our fellow citizens. Massachusetts’s own health reforms — which I supported as a state senator — proved that we can solve the problem of the uninsured at the state level without raising taxes, cutting care to seniors, or issuing new debt.
Let’s take a step back and remember where Massachusetts stood, prior to passage of the national law:
Insurance companies in Massachusetts were already prohibited from turning away patients with pre-existing conditions. Young people, up to age 25, could already stay on their parents’ health plan. Individuals and businesses had many choices. So did large self-insured institutions such as universities and charities. Religious schools and charities were not suing the government for violating First Amendment rights. We did not raise new taxes on our small businesses or promising growth industries.
All that changed with the federal law, which delivers no substantial additional benefits to Massachusetts — just higher costs, higher taxes, more regulations, fewer choices, and new federal spending of $2.6 trillion.
The law is bad for jobs. It raises 18 new taxes, including the job-killing medical device tax, which affects more than 400 medical device companies in Massachusetts. The tax has caused layoffs and hiring freezes in this key growth industry. Across the nation, small businesses that want to grow their workforce above 50 employees face daunting new regulations and much higher costs under the federal law. This creates a major disincentive to hire. In France, where there is a similar threshold for various regulations, there are almost three times as many businesses that have exactly 49 employees as there are with 50 or 51 workers.
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This story first ran in the Boston Globe on June 29, 2012.