One year ago last week, President Obama signed the new, big government health care legislation into law. I believe reform was needed, but Washington missed a historic opportunity to truly reduce costs and expand coverage for Ohio families and small businesses. Despite serious problems with the proposal expressed by concerned citizens, job creators and families, Washington pushed through the job-destroying overhaul of our nation's health care system, without a single Republican vote.
So here we are, one year later and the new health care law has been under attack. Two federal judges ruled that the law was unconstitutional. Those court decisions were followed by a bipartisan vote of 245-189 in the House of Representatives to repeal the controversial law. Unfortunately, in the Senate, the repeal measure failed on a party line vote.
Last fall, I visited an independent trucking company, Wooster Trucking, in Wayne County. The owner pulled together a dozen or so local businesses from the area for a roundtable discussion, one of the many I have had in the last couple years.
Every single small business owner around the table talked about their concerns over health care costs. All of them said the same thing - that since the health care bill passed, their health care costs have gone up, not down, and that is making it harder to create jobs.
The law's big-government approach to our health care system is bad for Ohio's economy. As I continue to travel the state, the rising costs and the great uncertainty caused by the new law's many regulations, mandates and taxes is at the top of the list of concerns raised by job creators. The nearly $813 billion in tax increases in the legislation also make it difficult for companies affected to hire new workers or invest in innovation, technology and research. The law also remains a major concern for families who are rightly concerned about significant premium increases.
To be clear, our health care system needed reform. It still does. We needed to take on the rising costs that limit access and put our system on an unsustainable path. Unfortunately, Congress and the president missed that opportunity a year ago, and the new law failed to address the basic cost and access challenges Ohio and our nation faces. Non-partisan analysis shows the new health care law leads to higher costs, large tax increases, and threatens many Ohioans' choice of coverage.
Whether it is federal court rulings or the House of Representatives voting to repeal the health care law, it is clear that the new health care is unacceptable to many. With all of the controversy surrounding the law, I believe there is a better way to reduce health care costs and expand coverage without threatening our economy or risking jobs.
On the very first day possible in the Senate, I unveiled my first piece of legislation, The Job Creation Act of 2011. The legislation includes a provision that would repeal the unconstitutional individual mandate paired with other job-friendly proposals like lowering payroll taxes to incentivize hiring, and reducing the deficit. Tangible actions must be taken for real health care reform, including enacting meaningful medical malpractice legislation, saving the federal government at least $54 billion and reducing health care costs for everyone; driving down costs and improving access through requiring insurance competition across state lines; and strengthening health savings accounts (HSA's) and patient-centric care, which would reduce medical expenses for small businesses and families.
I hope that the action by our courts and the Congress will be met by concrete actions to replace the law with a more sensible approach that will provide quality health care, lower costs and expanded coverage for all Ohioans.
Rob Portman represents Ohio in the United States Senate.