Wednesday, March 15, 2006
"First do no further harm"
On the Ides of March, beware new taxes parading as
No, really, serious analogy. The Roman senators had a point: Caesar’s
status quo was getting to be a problem. But just as assassinating him
wasn’t the proper response, killing the Massachusetts economy isn’t
sensible healthcare reform.
We recognize that this issue isn’t simple, so you may not find an easy
sound bite about "new taxes" in here - though the "assessment" on
employers that don’t provide health insurance is a new tax.
But we are still objecting to the "old tax" – the $62 per employee
paid by those who ARE providing health insurance. There can be no
justification for taxing the responsible employers, who are not part
of the problem, to support the bad debt/free care pool.
This is the same wrong-headed concept as the Massachusetts nursing
home tax, that taxes self-payers $10.99 a day for the privilege of not
being a burden on the Medicaid system.
A bill to repeal this tax over three years, H.4728, has come out of
the Elder Affairs Committee, to that committee’s credit.
We also object to the concept that employers should be paying for
health insurance at all. Business provides the jobs that provide not
only the paychecks of its employees, but all the money for all state
services. It is foolish to jeopardize Massachusetts jobs while forcing
business to directly provide social services, in this case healthcare.
So here is the bottom line. The $62 is a tax, a bad tax. Adding a new
$295 tax for companies that do not provide health insurance is adding
another bad tax to an existing bad tax. So Massachusetts should repeal
the $62, and not assess the $295, and repeal the nursing home tax.
Healthcare is too big an issue to be done at the state level. If this
bill passes, the tax on all businesses will increase as more people
come here for subsidized health insurance while more businesses do not
come here, or leave, putting us at further competitive disadvantage.
The federal government should deal with this issue by letting
individuals purchase health insurance with pre-tax dollars. It should
not further subsidize Massachusetts’ incoherent system with federal
If the final bill looks like the bill that is presently being floated,
Governor Romney should veto it, then address it as President of the
United States. Massachusetts health care reform: first, do no further
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