Thursday, October 29, 2009

Here It Comes: New Medical Taxes from BaucuSCARE!

There remains a great divide between Democrats and Republicans on health care reform and the time for construction of the actual bill is upon us. It's not so much what's in the bill, because the politicians will have their way, but a more significant area of disagreement is what the final bill will actually cost and how it would be paid for. One stipulation is for it to achieve the President's commitment to being deficit neutral. In order to achieve that goal, the Senate constructed (upon the prodding of the White House) a plan called the "Doctor Fix" legislation (S1776) that would in essence buy their support by "freezing" the mandatory cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments over the next ten years to the tune of nearly one-quarter trillion dollars. That meant "sliding" some of the cost of the overall healthcare reform to other legislation so that the cost of the healthcare reform would barely come in under Obama's proposed limit of one trillion dollars. Now, that, my friends is one heck of a political shell game! (We already know they plan to cut half a trillion from Medicare and Medicaid).

If you haven't been living in a cave, you know there has been healthcare bill proposed in the Senate by Senator Max Baucus and was supposed to be the work done by the Gang of Six, a committee of six senators headed up by Senators Baucus(D) and Grassley(R). Magically, Senator Baucus released his own document which he alone sponsored (no one else apparently wanted to lay claim to it!) and which is referred to as the Baucus Framework. It outlines key provisions that Senator Baucus would like to see in the final healthcare bill. With the acceptance of the Framework by the Finance Committee, this proposed legislation spent several days behind closed doors where Harry Reid, Rahm Emanuel, and others got their hands on it.  It emerged with an inserted Public Option....Uh-oh, they instantly lost some support! So, then they altered it to be a "States Can Opt Out Plan". But that won't work either. States will still have to fork over taxes to the federal government to pay for the States who opted in! That means that taxpayers in non-opted-in states will STILL be paying for someone else's health care!

Besides "Doctor Fix" as a proposed way to disperse the cost for this monstrosity, the Baucus Framework has introduced several new taxes on pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, clinical laboratories and insurance companies. Let me put it a little clearer. Heart stents - new tax, motorized wheelchairs - new tax, and there's more! In fact, anything that can be construed as a "medical device" (something that is used to improve health) and costs over $100 will have a new tax imposed upon it. The new taxes (Democrats call it "fees"!) over the ten year period would total $63 billion dollars just for pharmaceutical and the medical device industry. That's a FAR cry from the more than $1 trillion cost as this legislation now stands! And guess what.... the cost of this reform is coming not from the filthy rich! It's coming out of the hard-earned wages of middle America, those how are finding it more and more difficult to keep their heads above water. It's coming from you!

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