The “Good” Health Care Bill

Tester unapologetically voted for Obamacare, calling it a “good” bill that would solve a number of America’s most pressing issues.  Tester claimed Obamacare would make “Medicare stronger.”  But the healthcare program cut $500 billion in Medicare spending.  When given the opportunity to prevent these cuts from taking place, Tester voted “no” on the measure. 

 Tester also said Obamacare would cut the deficit and control costs.  After only two years the deficit reducing and cost controlling arguments are harder and harder to back up.  A recent CBO report showed that Obamacare is expected to cost much more than originally estimated, and some critics have said the healthcare program will contribute over a $1 trillion to the deficit. 

 However, possibly the worst part of Obamcare is the onerous regulations the bill puts on small businesses.  The Health Insurance Tax (HIT) requires small businesses to report any transaction over $600.  When a measure came up to take this out of the bill, Tester voted against it.  Other regulations in the healthcare bill encourage small businesses to downsize, and even the head of the CBO has said the bill will shrink the American job market by hundreds of thousands in the future.  It appears the reasons Jon Tester voted for healthcare reform will probably not happen, but he has not backed away from his vote. 



Tester Voted For The Senate Version Of The Health Care Overhaul Bill. “Passage of the bill, as amended, that would overhaul the nation’s health insurance system and require most individuals to buy health insurance by 2014. It would create a system of national private insurance plans supervised by the Office of Personnel Management and create state-run marketplaces for purchasing health insurance. Those that do not obtain coverage would be subject to an excise tax. Excluded from the mandate would be those exempt from filing income tax and others with a hardship waiver, religious objection or those who cannot afford coverage. Employers with 50 or more workers would have to provide coverage or pay a fine if any employee gets a subsidized plan on the exchange. The bill would provide tax credits to certain small businesses for providing coverage and provide subsidies to individuals making up to four times the federal poverty level, excluding illegal immigrants. It would bar the use of federal funds to pay for abortions in the new programs created under the bill, except in the cases of rape, incest or if the woman’s life is in danger. It would bar insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions beginning in 2014, and also bar them from dropping coverage of people who become ill. It would expand eligibility for Medicaid, shrink the coverage gap under the Medicare Part D prescription drug program and create an advisory board to reduce the per capita growth rate in Medicare spending.” (H.R. 3590, CQ Vote #396: Passed 60-39: R 0-39; D 58-0; I 2-0, 12/24/09, Tester Voted Yea)


Tester Voted For The Health Care Reconciliation Bill. “Passage of the bill that would make changes to the 2010 health care overhaul law, revise student loans programs and include revenue-raising provisions. It would increase federal subsidies to help low- and moderate-income families purchase coverage through new health insurance exchanges established by the overhaul measure, phase out the coverage gap for Medicare prescription drug enrollees and adjust the federal matching funds for Medicaid. It would increase penalties levied on employers that do not offer health benefits and change the formula used to calculate penalties on employers with workers who obtain subsidies to obtain health insurance through the exchanges. It would freeze Medicare Advantage payments in 2011 and then re-formulate payments according to local costs. It also would specify that in all states, the federal government would cover 100 percent of the cost of coverage to newly eligible Medicaid recipients from 2014 to 2016. It would delay for five years, until 2018, the effective date of a tax on high-cost health plans and adjust the dollar amounts used to determine who would be affected by the tax. It would repeal a provision to allow the cellulosic biofuels producer credit to be claimed by producers of certain paper products. It also would make the federal government the sole originator of federal student loans and direct the savings generated to education programs, including Pell grants. It would shift all new federal student lending to the Direct Loan Program beginning July 1, 2010. It would increase the maximum annual Pell Grant scholarship to $5,975 in 2017 and provide $2.6 billion for minority-serving institutions.”(H.R. 4872, CQ Vote #105: Passed 56-43: R 0-40; D 54-3; I 2-0, 3/25/10, Tester Voted Yea)


Tester Said The Health Care Bill Makes Medicare Stronger. “Today we make Medicare stronger by going after waste and fraud. We take the first steps to save our country hundreds of billions of dollars with smart reforms that slow down the runaway cost of health care.” (Sen. Jon Tester, “Tester: “‘We’re Now Moving Forward’ To Fix Broken Insurance System,” Press Release, 3/23/10)


Tester Said Through His Healthcare Vote He Was Cutting The Deficit, Saving Lives, And Saving Medicare. “This morning I voted to keep the government out of our health care decisions while making insurance affordable for all Americans.  I voted to stop insurance companies from denying coverage to folks with pre-existing conditions.  And I voted to cut our national deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars. This health care reform bill saves lives, saves money and saves Medicare.  I voted for it because it’s right for Montana’s families, kids, seniors, small businesses and family farms and ranches.” (Sen. Jon Tester, “Tester Statement On Passage Of Health Care Reform Bill,” Press Release, 12/24/09)


TESTER: “I Thought It Was A Good Bill When It Passed The Senate And I Still Think That…” (Mike Dennison, “Baucus Hails Reform Bill’s Passage,” Missoulian, 3/23/10)


In A Release Tester Said The Reform Would Control Costs, Strengthen Medicare, And Cut The Deficit. “Today’s vote was a bold ‘yes’ to reforming our broken health insurance system, controlling health care costs and making Medicare stronger-all while cutting the national deficit by more than a trillion dollars.” (Sen. Jon Tester, “Tester: Today’s Vote A ‘Yes’ To Reforming Broken Health Insurance System,” Press Release, 3/21/10)



The $87 Billion Health Insurance Tax (HIT) Will Make Insurance For Small Businesses More Expensive.  “One of the main goals of health reform is to make coverage more affordable for small businesses, but the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) only makes that goal harder to achieve. In fact, the new healthcare law includes an $87 billion health insurance tax (HIT) that will fall hard on small businesses.  The HIT, which is levied on health insurance companies, will almost entirely be passed onto consumers in the fully insured marketplace, where nearly all small businesses and the self-employed purchase their coverage. This new tax on small businesses will raise insurance costs for already struggling small businesses and is contrary to the goals of healthcare reform.” (National Federation of Independent Business,, Accessed 11/2/11)


Obamacare Required Businesses To Report Any Transaction Over $600. “Many small businesses will be forced to add more administrative staff to handle the increasingly complicated regulations on coverage and the tax compliance regulations, such as those related to filing corporate tax forms for business-to-business transactions of $600 or more.” (“Obamacare: Hurting Small Businesses and Doctors,” The Heritage Foundation, 6/23/10)


  • Tester Voted Against The Amendment To Repeal The $600 Reporting Requirement. “Motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the Johanns, R-Neb., amendment no. 4596 to the Nelson, D-Fla., amendment no. 4595 to the Baucus, D-Mont., and Landrieu, D-La., substitute amendment no. 4594. The Johanns amendment would repeal a tax information-reporting requirement from the 2010 health care overhaul law, offset by increasing the affordability exemption to the individual mandate in the health care law and cutting funding allocated for prevention programs. The Nelson amendment would exempt businesses with fewer than 25 employees from the tax compliance provision in the health care law and would raise the reporting threshold for the remaining companies from $600 to $5,000. The substitute would provide for a variety of small-business tax initiatives, including a revival of an expired bonus-depreciation provision to allow companies to write off assets more quickly, and authorize a small-business lending fund.” (H.R. 5297, CQ Vote #231: Rejected 46 – 52: R 39 – 0; D 7 – 50; I 0 – 2, 9/14/10, Tester Voted Nay)


The Health Care Law Contains Approximately $500 Billion In Cuts To Medicare. “It would cut an additional $60 billion from Medicare, bringing total cuts to the program to more than $500 billion over the next 10 years. And it would delay a tax on high-cost insurance polices [sic] until 2018, replacing the lost revenue by imposing the Medicare payroll tax on investment income for families earning more than $250,000 a year.” (Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery, “In Senate, GOP Has Last Chance To Change Health-Care Overhaul,” Washington Post, 3/24/10)

  • “In a March 20, 2010 letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Reconciliation Proposal Combined with H.R. 3590 as Passed by the Senate would result in a $455 billion net reduction in Medicare spending over the 2010-2019 period.” (Congressional Budget Office, “Letter To The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, 3/20/10)


  • “The reform plan includes cutting the costs of Medicare, the government-run health plan for seniors, by about $500 billion.” (“Pelosi: GOP Used Fear To Turn Elderly Against Health Care Bill,” CNN’s Politcal Ticker Blog,, 3/29/10)


Tester Voted Against An Amendment That Would Prevent $558.6 Billion In Cuts To Medicare And Medicare Advantage. “McCain, R-Ariz., motion to commit the bill to the Finance Committee with instructions that it be reported back after striking provisions that would cut $440.5 billion from Medicare programs, including $118.1 billion from Medicare Advantage and $150 billion from providers. It would express the sense of the Senate that any savings to health trust funds resulting from the bill be used to strengthen Medicare.” (H.R. 3590, CQ Vote #358: Rejected 42-58: R 40-0; D 2-56: I 0-2, 12/3/09, Tester Voted Nay)


In March 2012, The CBO Estimated That The Gross Cost Of Obamacare Would Be $1.762 Trillion. (Congressional Budget Office, “Updated Estimates For The Insurance Coverage Provisions Of The Affordable Care Act,” March 2012)


  • At The Time Of Obamacare’s Passage, It Was Estimated To Cost $940 Billion. “Combined with the Senate bill, the package would increase the overall cost of expanding insurance coverage to $940 billion over the next decade. But the two measures combined would also lower budget deficits by $143 billion by 2019.” (Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery, “Divided House Passes Health Bill,” The Washington Post, 3/22/10)


Nita Ghei, Op-Ed: Obamacare Will Increase Deficits $1.08 Trillion.  “Spending on Obamacare will increase federal deficits by $1.08 trillion – a far cry from President Obama’s initial promise of “bending the cost curve” with a “deficit-neutral” program.” (Nita Ghei, Op-Ed, “Obamacare’s Mounting Costs,” The Washington Times, 3/16/12)


The Employer Mandate Will Hamper Growth And Incentivize Businesses To Downsize. “The employer mandate imposes costly and confusing penalties on businesses with more than 50 full-time employees or full-time equivalents. It adversely affects small employers by raising payroll costs, eroding competitive positions, and increasing operating costs, making it particularly difficult for firms operating on small margins. Adding one new employee or having one more employee qualify for insurance subsidies can result in employer penalties of thousands of dollars. This structure gives businesses a powerful incentive to downsize, replace full-time employees with part-timers, or outsource.” (National Federation Of Independent Businesses, “Small Businesses Look To The New Congress To Repeal The Healthcare Law,”, Accessed 11/2/11)


The Director Of The CBO Estimated That By 2020 Obamacare Would Cost The Labor Force 800,000 Jobs. CAMPBELL: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman, we’ll — and Dr. Elmendorf — and we’ll continue this conversation right now.  First on health care, before I get to — before I get to broader issues, you just mentioned that you believe — or that in your estimate, that the health care law would reduce the labor used in the economy by about 1/2 of 1 percent, given that, I believe you say, there’s 160 million full-time people working in ’20-’21. That means that, in your estimation, the health care law would reduce employment by 800,000 in ’20-’21. Is that correct?”  ELMENDORF: “Yes. The way I would put it is that we do estimate, as you said, that the household (ph) employment will be about 160 million by the end of the decade.  Half a percent of that is 800,000. That means that if the reduction in the labor used was workers working the average number of hours in the economy and earning the average wage, that there would be a reduction of 800,000 workers.” (Committee On The Budget, U.S. House of Representatives, Hearing, 2/10/11)