How Obamacare will hurt Delta County

WASHINGTON – The relationship doctors develop with their patients can last a lifetime, extend to entire families, and last for generations. They can become trusted advisors for people facing difficult decisions. Doctors are there to help bring the newest addition to a family into the world and to be supportive during someone’s most difficult hours.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been practicing medicine in Northern Michigan for the past 30 years. And as a doctor, I have always believed in putting my patients first. That includes providing guidance and care that improves, enhances, and even saves lives. It’s that sacred trust that all doctors work hard to earn. We know it helps develop an unbreakable bond between us and our patients.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s new health care law will weaken that bond. It places Washington in the driver’s seat of health care decisions, makes health care more expensive, limits access, stifles innovation, and erodes the doctor-patient relationship.

Beyond that, the promises they made when pushing the health care overhaul through Congress have not come to pass. The health care exchanges, which promised a customer friendly experience, have been plagued with technical problems that have made even enrolling in these new plans nearly impossible. I continue to meet and hear from more and more people that won’t be able to keep their own insurance plan and doctor – even though the President promised we could.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed the law would “almost immediately” create 400,000 jobs. This hasn’t happened. In fact, job providers are telling us the exact opposite – either they are cutting back on workers or cutting hours, all in hopes of avoiding different penalties that come with this new health care law. Families in Northern Michigan may be forced to take on several part-time jobs, that don’t even offer health care, just to provide for their kids.

How can anyone get ahead when Washington is always setting us up for failure?

Families may also start to feel the ramifications of another empty promise. President Obama told us the new law would “lower… premiums by $2,500 per year,” yet premiums have actually risen by an additional $2,200 since the law took effect.

In this tough economy, hard-working moms and dads in Michigan are struggling to pay their bills and save for their children’s future. They simply cannot afford to pay higher insurance premiums caused by the new health care law.

Most alarmingly, President Obama cut over $700 billion from Medicare in order to pay for his new health care law. As a doctor, I am deeply concerned these cuts will put our seniors at risk and have devastating effects on our local hospitals. In fact, the cuts total over $2 billion in Northern Michigan, including $99 million in Delta County. It’s going to be really hard for our small local hospitals to stay open when they have to take on those drastic cuts.

Being a doctor, I know we have to lower health care costs, and the system that was in place is not an acceptable alternative. But, we can do this without putting Washington in charge. That’s why I support patient-centered reforms like allowing insurance to be sold over state lines, making health insurance portable, expanding health savings accounts, and real lawsuit reform.

You can learn more about these ideas at my website, Health care works best when patients make their own decisions, instead of having Washington calling the shots. Let’s work together to put in place a health care system that will work and actually meets the needs of the American people.

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Rep. Dan Benishek is a general surgeon from Iron River and is serving in his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives.