Wednesday, December 23, 2009

COMMENTARY: Health Care Reform

You may be a compassionate person. You may worry about those less fortunate than yourselves who don’t have health insurance. Or you may worry about the fact that YOU don’t have health insurance. If either is the case, there are some things you need to know NOW about the Health Care Reform Bill.

Here are the main hits:
1. The bill is going to be up for a final vote in the Senate on Thursday, Christmas Eve, at 7 a.m. Eastern Time.
2. There is no accurate estimate of how much this bill is going to cost the American public. That means YOU and me. Would you ever agree to buy something without knowing first what it cost? The worst estimates indicate the bill could add as much as one TRILLION dollars to the budget deficit. That is $1,000,000,000,000, in case you were wondering.
3. Several Senators have been bribed to vote for this bill with special “deals” they’ve been given for their states. This includes an additional $100 million in Medicaid payouts for constituents in the state of Nebraska, and $300 million in additional aid for Louisiana. Do you think that a bill that required bribery to get the votes is going to be a “good” bill?
4. The Senate bill allows taxpayer money (read “YOUR money and MY money”) to be used to fund abortions. Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, it doesn’t matter. Not blocking public funding for abortions is a travesty.
5. The provision in the bill that most closely resembles a “public option” is called the Class Act. To summarize, the Class Act is basically long-term health care insurance being offered by the federal government to all Americans. Then people like you and me sign up for it. But here’s the kicker. We pay premiums to the government for five years WITHOUT ANY BENEFITS. The government will use this money to fund other portions of the health care bill, then when they have to begin providing benefits to those of us dumb enough to have signed up for this program, it will go bankrupt. But instead of allowing it go bankrupt, of course the federal government will come in to “save” it (because, of course by then it will have become an entitlement), which is going to result in an ENORMOUS tax increase for all Americans, regardless of your income.
6. With the Senate bill, ALL residents of the United States will be REQUIRED to purchase health insurance. If you do not purchase health insurance, you will be the lucky recipient of a tax penalty of an amount up to 2% of your household gross income (or $750 per person, whichever amount is greater).
7. New regulations and restrictions are going to be imposed on all insurance companies currently doing business in the United States. So if you like your health insurance now, don’t be surprised when your premiums go up and your benefits go down.
8. Business owners with at least 50 employees who do not offer health insurance as a benefit will be taxed $750 PER EMPLOYEE per year. This will result in a loss of jobs, lower wages paid, and businesses going bankrupt. If you are the lucky employee of a small company who just makes that 50 employee cut-off, but is struggling to get by, you can kiss your job goodbye.
9. The amount of contributions to a flexible spending medical account will be limited based on your income. What sense does this make?
10. The government expects to pay for this health care plan, in part, by cutting Medicare and Medicaid. Just as the baby boomers are coming into Medicare-qualifying age, the government thinks they can cut those costs? If the government actually does cut Medicare and Medicaid, it will be the most vulnerable of our citizens who are left out in the cold. This will result in an ENORMOUS loss of service to the senior citizens of this country, as well as the poverty stricken.
11. Due to the new restrictions and regulations, it is going to become harder to be a doctor. Not only that, but the payouts to the doctors for Medicare and Medicaid recipients will be even less than they are now. This is going to result in some doctors closing their doors altogether. And it will become nearly impossible to find a doctor who will take Medicare or Medicaid. No one can work for free.
12. Cost-sharing subsidies will be offered to those in low-income brackets. These subsidies will go toward purchasing health insurance (but there is no indication that these subsidies will be enough to cover the actual cost of purchasing health insurance).
13. If you do not have health insurance, in additional to the wonderful “fine” you get to pay, you will also no longer be able to deduct medical expenses on your itemized tax return unless your medical expenses are over 10% of your taxable income.
14. A $2.3 billion fee will be charged ANNUALLY to pharmaceutical companies. If you think your prescriptions are expensive now, you just wait!

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