Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bingaman Touts Health Consensus

My Senator, New Mexico's Jeff Bingaman, said last Tuesday that he has found consensus among health care experts and business leaders, as reported in the Albuquerque Journal (subscription required). The central portions of Bingaman's "consensus" are that everyone should be required to purchase health insurance, "either through a public program or some kind of private coverage" enforced by penalties for noncompliance (and, apparently, with funds to help those who can't afford either compliance or penalties). Bingaman's "consensus" also seems to include hundreds of billions of dollars in "concessions" from private industry to defray costs. (I don't know whether those funds should be considered as taxes or as proceeds from muggings.) Other Democrats on Bingaman's committees are considering a new tax on health benefits to help pay for expanding coverage for the uninsured, to make sure people have to pay the government for the privilege of getting sick or injured.

It looks like that will be just the beginning. House Democrats are already considering "a wide variety of tax increases" to finance this national health program, including
    1. an income tax surcharge,
    2. a tax on employers based on the size of their payroll, and
    3. a value added tax (national sales tax).
House Democrats said their bill would cover virtually all the nation's "50 million uninsured". The Congressional Budget Office recently set the cost of a portion of the developing Senate bill, covering 10 million of the uninsured, at $1.6 trillion over ten years.

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