Sunday, December 16, 2007

Governor Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Nuñez make a deal and guess who pays for it

Is there anything the government can do better than private enterprise; yes there is, they can take away money you work for better than anyone or any thing. The politicians and bureaucrats in California that handle road construction, the prison system, the courts, the Department of Motor Vehicles, child protective services and the energy deregulation plan, now want to take care of your health too.

At a bargain-basement cost of an additional $14 billion, you, your children, your mama, and illegal aliens can have ‘free’ medical care; free, that is if you don’t count the huge tax increases you will pay and the huge ‘fees’ doctors, hospitals and health care providers will pay. Arnold and Nuñez have to call these charges to doctors, hospitals, etc. ‘fees’ because otherwise they would not get enough votes in the legislature to pass them as taxes, so determined are they to inflict this plan onto mere tax payers. Oh, and by the way, if you’re a smoker, fugedaboutit, you will be paying an extra $1.50 to $2.00 a pack of cigarettes. (Which will this encourage more, smuggling or quitting?) Business owners and employers will also be asked to ‘contribute’ to Arnold’s new 1984-type society; to the tune of from 1% to 6.5% of the payroll cost. (And some people have the nerve to say “California is not a business-friendly place, can you imagine?)

The only impediment for illegal aliens to get in on the act is that they would have to prove they are state residents. That isn’t a hard thing to do but if the federal government ever gets serious about doing something about illegal immigrants, this would be a good data base for a starting point.

Although hospitals may be able to make up the cost of additional ‘fees’, doctors would have a more difficult time of it. The plan is therefore extremely unfair to medical practitioners who are already suffering from very low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. The best way to reduce our quality of healthcare is to make medical practice unattractive as a business enterprise.

California employers with payrolls of up to $250,000 a year would have to spend at least 1% on healthcare for their workers. Those that didn’t do this would pay into a state-run health insurance pool that would help buy coverage for the employees. Companies with payrolls up to $1 million would have to pay 4% and those with payrolls up to $15 million would have to pay 6%. All larger companies would pay 6.5%. Though it isn’t clear, it would seem that any company doing business in California or having facilities in California and employing California residents, would have to pay the required healthcare cost on at least their California payroll.

The ‘fees’ to be charge to hospitals are expected to generate $2.3 billion and to meet the expense of the plan, an additional $2.3 billion is expected from the federal government; is that likely to happen?

The Arnold-Nuñez plan requires virtually all Californians to have medical insurance, including everyone that doesn’t want it. Those earning below $51,625 for a family of four would receive state subsidies (guess who pays for these subsidies) to pay for most of their premiums. Families earning more than that but no more than $82,600 for a family of four would be able to deduct any premium costs that exceed 5.5% of their incomes on their California, but not their federal, tax returns. (Why should those with incomes over $82,600 not be able to deduct their cost?)

For a state facing a $20 billion deficit, it makes absolutely no sense to add another $14 billion of additional costs. Even some supporters of lawmakers’ efforts are worried that the political climate will make it difficult to undertake the plan. Bob Ross, president of the California Endowment, a Los Angeles-based foundation that favors expanded healthcare, said the state’s weakening economy and the budget gap are obstacles. "When you do the math on that set of realities, it doesn’t bode well," Ross said.

Fortunately it appears the universal healthcare plan of Schwarzenegger and Nuñez will have to be voted upon by California voters sometime and the leaders have agreed to put it on the ballot in November. Fair-minded voters should become familiar with the universal healtcare proposal, consider what it will do to their health care and whether they are satisfied with the quality of healthcare now, or whether they want to roll the dice and let politicians and bureaucrats make healthcare decisions for them.

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