Obama Takes a ‘Mend-Not-End’ Approach to New Health Care Law

By Fred Lucas | January 26, 2011 | 7:07am EST

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – Republicans believe the Senate should vote on a bill repealing the $1 trillion health care law enacted last year, even though President Barack Obama has shown a willingness to work with Republicans to tweak it.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama said he was open to improving the law but also said he opposed “re-fighting the battles of the last two years.”

“Now, I have heard rumors that a few of you still have concerns about our new health care law,” Obama said, prompting laughter. “So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making (health) care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you.

“We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses. What I’m not willing to do -- what I’m not willing to do -- is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a preexisting condition.”

The bookkeeping burden that Obama mentioned has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.

Currently, businesses and other entities are required to report on IRS Form 1099 any service-related transactions over $600 involving an unincorporated business, such as a solo proprietor, partnership or LLC.

Section 9006 of the health care law, however, requires businesses, tax-exempt organizations, and government entities to file Form 1099 for every single business-to-business transaction of $600 or more, for both goods and services, starting in 2012.

Even small businesses paying more than $600 for goods and service from vendors must report those transactions to the IRS.

As CNSNews.com has reported, a bipartisan coalition of 54 senators introduced a bill on Tuesday to get rid of the health care law’s bookkeeping provision. (See related story)

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) told CNSNews.com the Senate should vote to repeal health care, just as the Republican-led House did earlier this month:

Even the president said things need to be changed, he added. “One, you need to take the 1099s out, and we need to put medical malpractice (reform) in.” Grassley said repealing the health care law “is just the first step.” He advocates writing a new, cost-effective health care bill – “because this bill that the president signed a year ago doesn’t save one dollar in health care costs.”

“I’m very, very supportive of health care reform,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) told CNSNews.com. “The president said tonight that we’re going to stand by it. That the pre-existing condition (coverage) is something we’re going to have to stand by and fight to ensure we keep in health care reform.

“He talked about the fact that families are being served so well by being able to keep their children on (their parents’ insurance plan) to the age of 26, I believe it is. He did throw a bone to Republicans and said there may be some places for change, and I’m perfectly willing to work with you on that change. He talked about the 1099 change that we’re already doing to save some money for small businesses.

“I think we’re pretty sure what we want to do about health care reform,” Waters said.

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