I believe the best way to provide Illinoisans and their families with access to affordable healthcare is by pursuing legislation that will reduce the overall cost of your health care while also creating affordable opportunities for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
As a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, I am committed to aggressive oversight of the President’s flawed healthcare law. We have achieved victories in repealing the onerous 1099 reporting requirement and the unsustainable CLASS Act. The 1099 provision required all businesses to submit a separate IRS 1099 reporting form for every business-to-business transaction totaling $600 or more per year. The 1099 reporting requirements would have resulted in small business owners having to fill out 1099 forms for basic businesses expenses, such as phone and internet services, shipping costs, and office supplies. I supported the 1099 repeal, both in committee and on the House floor, because businesses do not need further regulations draining their already limited resources.
I supported a repeal of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act in early 2013 because this program was an unsustainable long term care insurance program that the President’s own Department of Health and Human Services announced it could not move forward on.
In the 113th Congress, I am an original cosponsor of legislation that repeals the 2.3% tax on the manufacturing of medical devices. This tax, which went into effect in January 2013, is projected to result in the loss of over 1,200 Illinois jobs. I supported and cosponsored similar legislation in the 112th Congress which passed the House of Representatives but unfortunately stalled in the Senate.
The employer and individual mandates to purchase health insurance will begin on January 1, 2014 unless they are repealed. The individual mandate taxes Americans who do not purchase “minimum essential coverage” while the employer mandate creates perverse incentives for companies to drop their employee health coverage. For example, companies who currently pay thousands of dollars in their share of an employee’s health coverage will find it is cheaper to pay the $2,000 fine per employee rather than pay the $12,000 in family coverage. This means, that despite President Obama’s promise, Americans who like their current health coverage won’t be able to keep it. Businesses cannot grow under these new mandates, and neither can our economy. I continue to support legislation that repeals these mandates because I believe we should incentivize affordable health coverage instead of requiring people to purchase healthcare services that may not be suited for their family’s needs.
Even though the health law was signed in March 2010, the American people still do not know the full impact of the President’s health law. Transparency is one reason I authored a letter to Governor Quinn asking him to provide Illinois citizens with the full impact of Medicaid’s expansion on Illinois already strained budget. Some estimates find Illinois taxpayers will spend $10 billion more on Medicaid than it otherwise have spent. This additional spending comes at a time when the State of Illinois has been forced to delay payments to providers because it does not have enough money to pay them on time.
I believe it is imperative that we as consumers take greater responsibility and control over the healthcare of ourselves and our families. In the 113th Congress, I authored H.R. 207 in order to expand the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to health sharing ministries. HSAs are pre-tax savings accounts from which individuals can use to pay for their out-of-pocket health costs. HSAs incentivize people to be better consumers of health care.
As our understanding of medicine continues to grow, I believe it is important that parents be given the option to store the umbilical cord blood of their child. Umbilical cord blood is a non-controversial source of stem cells for current and emerging therapies. Stem cells from umbilical cord blood have been used in more than 14,000 transplants worldwide during the last 20 years to treat more than 70 diseases in both adults and children. Unfortunately, the average cost of cord blood banking can be as much as $2,000 for collection and processing and up to $150 a year for storage. In order to make the costs more affordable to families, I am supporting legislation that would add cord blood banking services as a qualified medical expense in the tax code.
If obesity rates continue to rise it is projected that by 2030, the obesity rate in Illinois could reach 53.7 percent, adding millions of dollars to our health care system. According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2011, 27.1 percent of adults in the state were obese. I believe we need to make it easier for all Americans to live healthier lifestyles, therefore I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2649, legislation providing a tax reimbursement for qualified physical activity, in order to incentivize more Americans to take better care of themselves.
As we have seen the obesity rate rise in adults, unfortunately, we have seen a similar rise in the number of children who are classified as overweight or obese. A recent study found Illinois is ranked 4th in the nation for childhood obesity with 20.7% of 10-17 year olds rated as obese. It is essential that we encourage our young people to engage in physical activity before they are condemned to a life of chronic yet preventable diseases. I support legislation which integrates physical education in our nation’s schools. I will continue to support proposals that encourage the creation or enhancement of prevention and wellness programs so all people can better manage their health.