U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, warned a Gainesville audience Thursday that the Affordable Care Act debate will heat up in the weeks leading to Oct. 1, when Americans can sign up for insurance through health care exchanges.
“If you don’t like ugly politics, turn your TVs off in September,” said Collins, speaking at the Gainesville Civic Center to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.
Health care reform’s individual mandate takes effect Jan. 1, with all Americans required to have insurance either through their employer or buying a private plan. The exchanges — dubbed by the government as the Health Insurance Marketplace — have been set up to help allow Americans to select a plan.
“I’m going to speak from the Democratic perspective right here. This is their own words: It’s a train wreck, we’re not ready,” Collins said. “These (comments) are from senators, representatives and administration officials who are struggling to get ready by Oct. 1 or any other deadline right now.
“I just believe it’s not good for business. If you don’t believe me, just look at the headline in today’s paper about (UPS Inc.),” he said, adding he believes other companies also could be deciding whether to make drastic health insurance changes.
According to national media reports, UPS is ending health coverage for thousands of employees’ spouses, starting in 2014.
Businesses are finding “their balance is paying $9,000 roughly in (premium) costs per employee or pay a $2,500 penalty,” Collins said. “You’re businesspeople in this room. Which one are you going to chose? Or you can fire people. This is the country we’re in right now.
The government has delayed a small business mandate in the law. Now, as of Jan. 1, 2015, businesses with 50 or more employees working 30 hours or more must offer “minimum essential” insurance coverage. The government is requiring that insurance plans feature 10 “essential benefits,” including preventive care and prescription drug coverage.
“If we’re going to delay parts of (the law), then let’s delay the funding of it,” Collins said. “That’s going to be the fight. Where’s it going to end? I don’t know.”
The freshman legislator told the audience he believes “over the last 30 years, Congress has slowly been giving away its authority and they’ve been doing so by passing bills such as the Affordable Care Act.
“The joke was that (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi said ‘You’ve got to pass it to know what’s in it,’” Collins said.
“Well, I hate to tell her I would agree with her, but I read it and I still don’t know what’s in it. The bill had at the end of most every paragraph ‘to be determined by.’ Those are the rules and regulations you’re getting right now.”
Gainesville City Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras asked Collins, “Do we have as many people working to work out the (law) as we do working against it? That’s the part that bothers me.”
“It’s better. I’m not going to say it’s there,” Collins said. “Right now, because of issues with the law, as many Democrats are saying privately ... ‘This isn’t workable. Even if it’s the law, we need to do something.’”