The recent Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act surprised many. The reasoning given by the court for allowing the mandate is that it's a tax — and it's constitutional for Congress to pass a tax.
While I believe that is a questionable interpretation at best, Americans now must buy health insurance or receive a tax penalty.
In 2008, President Barack Obama said, "Health care should never be purchased with tax increases on Middle class families". During the lengthy debate on ACA he stressed that it was not a tax. It seems that President Obama's promises usually have an expiration date. For example, he promised that negotiations for ACA would be on C-SPAN for the whole nation to see. They were instead held mostly behind closed doors.
This tax will fall very heavily on middle class families who are not eligible for government help, but do not have a lot of disposable income to purchase health insurance. Businesses of all sizes will be caught in the crossfire as well, although there is a temporary exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
The other major problem is that Obamacare tries to deal with the high cost of health insurance, but does little in a practical sense to lower the cost of care.
However, though I oppose Obamacare, I think that most people agree that our health care system is in need of reform. We have the best quality of care in the world. Unfortunately, because of excessive regulation, duplication of care, an overly litigious society and arcane rules about where you can buy a policy from, the cost of health care continues to skyrocket.
I firmly believe that what's needed (and what the Obama administration and Congress should have done) is take the problems in our health care system we can agree on and addressed them one by one.
Health care reform should consist of perhaps eight to 10 bills that each deal with one segment of the problem. That would allow for robust debate and even some compromise in the full light of day.
Some may ask, "Well, isn't there some good policy in the ACA?" The presence of a few good details — such as an emphasis on digitalizing medical records and addressing the problem of pre-existing conditions — doesn't outweigh the overall, one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with our nation's health care.
The biggest problem with the ACA is it puts the government in charge of health decisions. It does not address the high cost of care or promote a check on the insurance companies.
What is needed is more choice for consumers with less mandates and more competition.
The writer is a state delegate representing Carroll County from District 5A.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun