Questions for Health Care Townhall Meetings
The details of the latest health care plan don’t match the rhetoric of the Administration and Congress. And Americans are beginning to notice. Many of the concerns expressed at some of the townhall meetings sweeping the country are legitimate and demand a response from our elected officials. Here are a few simple questions constituents should think about asking their elected officials over the August recess:
* Will I lose my current plan and doctor? The vast majority of Americans get their health insurance through their place of work. The Lewin Group estimates that about 88.1 million people would lose their employer-based coverage if the House bill became law. Moreover, new regulations and mandates will likely change existing coverage. Reps. Barney Frank (D- MA) and Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) along with Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman have all admitted the public option will inevitably lead to government-run health care.
* Can you promise that you and your family will enroll in the public plan? Recently, a House committee voted down a measure that would require lawmakers to enroll in the same public health plan that nearly 104 million other Americans could be a part of. If the public plan isn’t good enough for our public servants, why should it be thrust upon the rest of us?
* Who’s going to pay for the plan? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demands that health care reform has “Got to be paid for. And we all have a shared responsibility that we all need to play a role.” Yet Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY)’s surtax plan falls disproportionately on families and small businesses making more than $350,000 ($280,000 for individuals). His plan would levy an additional income tax of 1-5.4% on America’s high income earners.
* Is taxing the rich for health care a responsible and effective plan? The top 20% of U.S. income earners currently pay almost 70% of all federal taxes, and more than 86% of all income taxes. In fact, the bottom 40 percent of tax filers pay a net negative income tax rate (they receive money instead of paying out). High earners already have a vast majority of the federal income tax burden, and the proposed tax hikes will badly damage the economy at a time when it cannot absorb any new negative shocks. Increasing the tax burden on the wealthy would lead to larger future deficits. Hence, a surtax plan will unduly burden the rich without benefiting the public’s fiscal or real-life health.
These questions are important, and details do matter. Americans should demand real solutions that put individuals and families in charge of their health care dollars and decisions.