The district work period that August provides has always been invaluable to me. It allows me to visit with many constituents, small businesses, communities and organizations throughout the 3rd District and talk to many of you and hear your concerns and thoughts that are on your mind.
America is at an interesting juncture in time. People, like you, are more than fed-up with Washington whether it is in regards to the lack of jobs, high gas prices or Obamacare. Obamacare continues to be the biggest issue of frustration among most and it got me thinking of the many failures of the law and how much Obamacare has cost you and your family.
Since being signed into law in 2010, Obamacare has resulted in great uncertainty and skyrocketing health-care premiums, which has crippled the pocket books of small businesses and American families. After speaking with you and seeing the impact of the law's cost increases and tax hikes, I can honestly say that it is neither affordable or caring, which is why I remain diligent in my efforts to dismantle the law through repeals and defunding provisions.
In fact, the House has been successful in repealing two costly provisions and in reducing funds available for its implementation. In March 2011, the House voted and Congress successfully repealed the 1099 reporting requirement for small businesses. Then, on Jan. 1, 2013, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act which would have been a long-term insurance program was successfully repealed. However, these successes are clearly not enough and are not protecting Americans, like you, from the law's many taxes and from its most burdensome regulations, mandates, and impacts.
Over the past year, Obamacare has had a number of setbacks and more Americans are witnessing how unworkable it is and how it is failing all on its own. One of the law's goals was to help cover individuals with pre-existing conditions, a concept I believe we must work towards through state high-risk pools, but its effort has been a failure. Earlier this year, the federal government announced it would no longer accept any new applications for the Pre-Existing Insurance Condition Plan (PCIP) that was meant to provide coverage until the exchanges were up and running; thus, those with pre-existing conditions have been left with nothing more than what they had before.
More recently, the Administration has announced a series of year-long delays in the law because of missed deadlines, an inability to effectively organize its many components, and, in my opinion, because of strong opposition from the American people. The Administration has delayed out-of-pocket cost limitations, the competitiveness component of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), the employer mandate to provide insurance coverage for their employees, and the verification of eligibility for subsidies on the exchanges. I think it is important to note that President Obama and his administration have freely handed out waivers and exemptions for the well-connected in Washington, whereas Americans, like you, are still subject to the individual mandate to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.
Companies seem to be getting a reprieve from its burdensome requirements while hard-working American families are left alone to navigate the complicated system and either pay fines or pay for health insurance that has skyrocketed due to the health-care law and its dozens of new taxes. With the country enduring tough economic times, an initial penalty of $95 or 1 percent of a person's income in 2014 could be devastating. To make matters worse, the penalty continues to increase and could take $695 or 2.5 percent of a person's income (whichever is greater) by 2016.
At the end of the day, Obamacare is too big, complex, and much too costly. I have voted 40 times to repeal, defund and dismantle it, but the few successes my Republican colleagues and I have had have been through strategic approaches to dismantle the law piece-by-piece. While extremely frustrating, the fact of the matter is the president will never sign a bill that repeals or defunds in its entirety his signature piece of legislation. That being said, you can be assured that I will work tirelessly to repeal, defund and dismantle this unaffordable and overly burdensome law and to pass legislation that places individuals back in control of their health care.
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., represents the state's 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 573-635-7232.