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House Health Care Bill: Goodbuy Privacy, Hello Taxes

Elizabeth Lee Vliet MD's picture
More tax for health care reform

The House has brought forth its healthcare reform bill. It is more than 1000 pages that even the policy experts have trouble understanding. The President wants it passed before the end of July. Once again, no one will have time to read a massive bill that affects Your life. How much longer will we be forced to pay the consequences of our representatives failing to do their duty to US? What has clearly come out signals that these 1000 pages may be dangerous to your health and your privacy.

Not to mention, it is NOT free. You - and small businesses, and the wealthy - will be face huge tax increases to pay for the health “care” bureaucracy

* The federal “comparative effectiveness” board – government bureaucrats who will decide what your doctor can do – what diagnostic tests will be allowed, what medicines you can have, and what types of doctors you can see.

* The government “medical records” center that will house the computer systems that maintain your personal medical information, whether you give your permission or not. This provision was already passed in the stimulus bill in early 2009 and most people do not know this was done.

* The federal “insurance” czar who will decide whether a) you can even have private health insurance to cover services the government prevents you from having – based on your age, or state of health, or assessed “value” to society, and b) what government requirements that private health insurance must meet in order to qualify.

* Oversight boards that regulate everything else.

The House bill creates a Canadian-style, government-run health insurance plan that will drive as many as 119 million people out of private health insurance and force everyone into an HMO-style, Medicaid-like plan dictated by the government. Employers will either be taxed severely if they don’t offer a health insurance plan “acceptable” to the federal bureaucrats, or they will drop their private health insurance benefits and push their employees over to the new government plan.

Did I tell you that this new health insurance plan only affects us average citizens? The Democrats nicely put in exemptions for themselves as elected officials, their families and the President. Congress and the President – who want all of US to be controlled by the federal bureaucracy -- will be able to keep their gold-plated health insurance plan. Reminds me of Marie Antoinette when she said about French citizens - “Let them eat cake.” Her calloused indifferent attitude to the citizens ultimately led to the French Revolution.

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The “reform” program being forced on everyone, without the legislators even taking time to read the bill and allow citizen input into this crucial debate that affects your life and your medical freedom, is once again being rammed ahead by this administration as a “crisis” that has to get fixed NOW. The only “crisis” here is a crisis of TRUTH. The American people are not getting “transparency and accountability” as promised in the Democrats campaign last fall. The new Congress’ idea of “transparency” appears to be that WE don’t see through what they are really doing.

We don’t even get a semblance of reliable information about what this massive take-over of health care really means for you and your family. Rationing and denial of medicines or care is something every government in the world does when they control your health insurance and the health care system. The facts are indisputable – our current Congress just doesn’t seem to want you to know the facts. The new mantra under this administration is “We won... YOU lose.”

In addition to the cost in loss of privacy of your records, loss of your medical choices for doctors and treatment options, what’s the dollar cost to YOU and your family to have the privilege of the government owning your health care... as it has taken over auto and banking and finance industries? The entire health insurance “take-over” is estimated, conservatively, to cost at least4 1.5 TRILLION. But more realistic estimates are that it will cost more than 2-3 TRILLION to pay for all the services and bureaucracy. Most people cannot begin to comprehend what a “trillion” means. It’s a number with TWELVE zeros – write it out on a piece of paper and see for yourself how big it is. Your children and their children for the next twelve generations will be paying for it!

The Wall Street Journal reported July15 that small businesses – the backbone of our economy for jobs and productivity – will be the hardest hit with massive new taxes, with penalties of up to 8% of payroll if they don’t provide health insurance acceptable to the government. Notice the clause “acceptable to the government” – that’s still government control over your choices.

Individuals will pay more taxes as well – a new “fair share” tax of some unspecified amount to pay for the new government bureaucracy, a penalty tax if you don’t buy health insurance, and higher taxes on income to help pay to cover those who don’t pay taxes. Then there are the surcharges on top of this for high income individuals -- a surcharge of 5.4% (to start) for those making one million a year or more, and a 1% surcharge that can rise to 2 or 3% for individuals making between $350,000 and $500,000. That may not be your pay range, but these are the people who provide jobs for the rest of us. Taxing them more ends up killing jobs.

The truly tragic part of all this rush to “fix” health insurance – is that the cost really is seriously high: it is the loss of your privacy, the loss of your freedom to make personal decisions with your doctor and your family, and the loss of your ability to have timely access to care, the loss of your access to the newest medicines and treatments.

This “plan” –being cobbled together in back rooms and being passed under the guise of a “crisis” without legislators reading – much less understanding – the 1000+ page bill –will end up still not covering everyone the government says they need to insure. For all its current flaws and difficulties, Americans risk losing the greatest medical services system in the world if this bill passes. There is no free lunch, and no “free” medical care. If you want to keep your privacy and your freedom to chose when, with whom, where, and what medical services you can get, it is important to tell your legislators to Slow down, review the better options being proposed from many groups, fix what’s broken for the 5% who need help. Don’t destroy what is working for the rest of us.

Written by Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D. July 16, 2009

DISCLAIMER: Dr. Vliet speaks as an independent physician, not as an official spokesperson for any organization. Dr. Vliet has no financial ties to any health care system, pharmaceutical company, or health insurance plan. Her allegiance and advocacy is to and for patients.