The health care system in the United
States is being squeezed
to the breaking point:
- the cost of medical care is rising
faster than it has in many years
- elderly Americans are increasingly
unable to afford prescription drugs, which are not covered by Medicare
- the number of uninsured Americans,
which is now about 40,000,000, is expected to climb as workers lose jobs
- states, which are facing
huge budget shortfalls, are issuing urgent calls for the federal
government to increase its contribution to the Medicaid program, which
is jointly paid for
Obviously, increased funding must be
provided in order to ensure that all Americans receive decent regular health
care (as opposed to access to emergency rooms, as wealthy conservatives like
Fox News talk show host Sean
Hannity feel is sufficient).
Kennedy Tax Plan
Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of
Massachusetts has proposed a plan to
provide an additional $300 billion for health care needs. This would
by reducing tax cuts that were called for under President Bush's tax cut
plan, but only for the very wealthiest Americans
First, under the Kennedy scenario
income tax cuts for the top approximately 7% of households -- those with
incomes above $130,000 -- would be somewhat less than originally called for
in 2004 and 2006. Everyone else -- 93% of all Americans -- would fully
enjoy their scheduled tax reductions.
Second, the estate tax would be
retained, but the minimum estate value required for the tax to kick in would
be raised immediately to $1 million, and would rise to $4 million by
2010. Only 1% of estates would be subject to taxation. In other
words, 99% of all those surviving a death in the family would be unaffected
by Senator Kennedy's plan.
What Sen. Kennedy said at the National
Press Club succinctly spells out the choice facing us:
"Whatever the merits or
demerits of last year's tax bill, it was enacted in what now seems a very
different and distant time. We must think anew, and act responsibly.
Future additional tax breaks for the
wealthy do not deserve higher priority than strengthening education or
covering prescription drugs under health care or meeting other urgent
Will the rich suffer under Sen.
Kennedy's plan? Let's not shed any tears.
For example, families at the $1
million income level will receive their full $7,133 tax cut in 1992.
But in 2006, instead of a tax cut of $31,406, their taxes would
"only" be reduced by $8,594.
To put things further in perspective,
let's note that increasing numbers of the well-to-do -- not satisfied with
the treatment that they receive under normal health insurance plans -- are
joining so-called "boutique"
or "concierge" medical plans where they pay their physicians
thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars beyond what regular insurance
What do these affluent patients get
for that extra money? Some of the benefits offered by various plans
- "round-the-clock cell phone
access to doctors
- same-day appointments
- nutrition and exercise physiology
exams at patients' homes or health clubs
- doctors to accompany them to
- in the most expensive plan,
"heated towel racks, marble showers and personally monogrammed
Hmmm... Forty million Americans have
no health insurance at all and 20 million more are under-insured, but the
wealthy are so flush with dough that they can turn their backs on normal
insurance plans and spend big bucks on "boutique" medical care.
I say it's totally appropriate to
reduce their tax cuts a bit so that all Americans will have access to decent
health care, even if it's without heated towel racks or personally