U.S. Rep.John Shimkus told business owners Monday he's pushing to delay enforcement of the new federal healthcare overhaul because his home state and the rest of the country are not ready for it.
Shimkus, R-Collinsville, voted for two bills last week in the U.S. House that would delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, for businesses and individuals.
In speaking before metro-east business leaders in East Alton Monday morning, Shimkus said Illinois insurers need more time to set up an exchange of insurance companies to provide individuals a place to purchase health insurance by the new year.
"We're not ready for it," Shimkus said. "If you check with the State of Illinois, I've been talking to the insurers, and the State of Illinois is not going to be ready for prime time for this individual mandate, and we project it will be price shock. We're saying that we ought to delay it."
Failure to comply with the individual mandate would lead to a penalty, a percentage of your income. However, Shimkus argued that the penalty is lower than it would cost to buy insurance, which would destabilize the insurance market and lead to increased costs.
"If you're newly employed and invincible, the penalty is a lot less than the purchase of insurance," he said. "So they're afraid, and I think justifiably so, that the healthy people are just going to take the penalty and not go onto the exchange. If you don't have this high-paying healthy portion in the pool and you have all of these old people who are sick, prices keep going up. That's why we don't think it's ready."
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, who joined Shimkus Monday morning, said the new health care mandate is already costing more -- at least $800 million more --to hire thousands of new IRS agents to enforce the new law's tax provisions.
"We need to stop its implementation until it actual begins to try and accomplish some of the goals that it was envisioned to accomplish," Davis said. "Costs were supposed to go down and they're not going down. Individuals with pre-existing conditions were supposed to be covered, they stopped taking new enrollees in high-risk pools in March because they ran out of money."
He added, "That's frustrating, especially for someone like me who has a wife who's a 14-year colon cancer survivor. We, as members of Congress, will go on to the exchange next year. So we have the same worries that any other family is worried about, whether they will have the same coverage or coverage that will cover pre-existing conditions. This is something that families are concerned about, and rightfully so."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.