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Is the Democrats’ health care plan feasible?

BY DI STAFF | JULY 24, 2009 7:15 AM

Middle class will end up paying

Health care in this country will not a right, even after the federal government figures out which of the two bills floating around Congress will become a law. Both bills, as they stand, require Americans to purchase coverage and provide proof of insurance when they submit their federal tax reform. The feds will fine a person up to $750 a year, and business $750 per uninsured worker a year. All that regardless of whether the person or business can afford to pay for insurance.

The federal government does provide a way around receiving such fines. The bill up for debate in the Senate creates a “gateway” in each state. Gateways would be insurance exchanges, providing a multitude of insurance policies. One such policy would be a government-funded public-option plan. The federal government hopes to pay for this public option with a surcharge on policies in the gateway and through unfunded state mandates. People still have to pay for their insurance up front, but they may receive a tax credit, should their income qualify for the credit.

The bill the House of Representatives passed has a more popular funding option. This bill provides a similar exchange system and penalizes citizens for not carrying insurance, but it will tax incomes in excess of a $1 million at 5 percent instead of a policy surcharge.

Neither of these bills will lower health-care costs. Most of the regulation in either bill focuses on insurance companies, rather than health-care providers. It does nothing to lower costs of drug prices. Both bills would provide inflationary pressure on health-care prices by injecting more funds into the system.

The federal government may give taxpayers a credit, but some states can declare that income and tax it — even the middle class will still have to pay some money for insurance. Some Democrats criticized the House plan, saying the wealthy surcharge is insufficient to cover the hundreds of billions of dollars a year this plan will cost. This has raised the possibility the federal government will tax employer-provided coverage in order to cover the shortfalls.

After details of the plan are realized, it looks like the middle class will have to pay more.

Taxing the rich is only reasonable

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently argued that the United States has the highest quality health care in the world. I have much to say about that, but one fact to present: At this moment in time, the United States has 50 million people without health care.

While actions must be taken to decrease that number, what’s even more shocking is that President Obama’s election platform included universal health care as one of its elements. Now, after we elected him to implement such a plan, we run and hide. Obama is not trying to politicize this matter, only fix a system that is broken.

Taxpayers of this country pay $2.5 trillion in taxes to cover health care, mainly for those who have no coverage. Obama’s public option aims to decrease that number significantly.

As for the cost, he intends to slightly raise the taxes on the people who can afford it the most: the wealthiest men and women who received tax breaks under the Bush administration. The cut down on bureaucratic posturing alone will save millions in taxpayer dollars.

“Socialized medicine” they call it? “Much needed” is more like it.

The Senate Finance Committee has found that by 2017 “health-care expenditures are expected to consume nearly 20 percent of the GDP.” Add in a war that needs our support, and our dollar is stretched further than ever before.

We are at the precipice of disaster over the next 20 years if actions aren’t taken. I would be alongside many of the Republicans against this if they provided an alternative, but they are too busy running their political machine.

We elected Obama for change in Washington. Now we have give him the resources for that change.


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