Felicia Muftic: The oldest gimmick | SkyHiNews.com

Felicia Muftic: The oldest gimmick

Felicia Muftic / My View
Grand County, CO Colorado

The oldest gimmick in politics is to promise a chicken in every pot. The problem is always who pays for that chicken.  

The GOP’s budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan is promising us chickens: 10 percent income tax for all except 25 percent for the yet-to-be defined rich and a deficit that will still grow by $797 billion, but will be less than the Democrat’s proposal of $977 billion.

Ryan proposes to reduce corporate taxes to 25 percent. The president’s proposal is 28 percent). While Ryan is vague about the cuts needed to get us there, what the GOP and he have proposed so far already adds arsenic to our health care pot.

With the Ryan budget, future seniors and the poor would pay the most. Seniors on Medicare would be given vouchers that fall $6,000 a year short of costs of care but – big whoop – they are free to choose unguaranteed private insurance or guaranteed public insurance. The sick and poor will see a cut in Medicaid, and in food stamps that help the poor to eat, with inevitably less support for nursing home care after mom runs out of savings.

Left yet are some potentially troubling details. Would tax deductions for charitable contributions to entities that provide many health services go away? While middle class taxes could be reduced, would deductions for education, health care, and home mortgages be eliminated?

Heaping on Ryan’s hit to consumers is the pledge of every GOP candidate to repeal Obamacare. Health care reform is already law. It gives benefits to the public. Repealing it takes those benefits away. The Supreme Court could also declare Obamacare unconstitutional.

The provision mandating all to carry health insurance, subsidized per income level, is the chief issue being argued before the Supreme Court this week. Kill the mandate and kiss goodbye to coverage for the 30 million now unable to afford health insurance and those with pre-existing conditions.

At issue is whether the federal government can require all to have insurance or whether a freeloading individual can refuse to carry it. The purpose of the mandate is to include as many healthy people in the “pool” so that risk and cost are spread around, which is essential to make it affordable to cover pre-existing conditions and insurance coverage for everyone.

Obamacare means 540,000 currently uninsured in Colorado (20.7 percent of Grand County residents) will finally be able to buy affordable health insurance by 2014. Per http://www.health.costhelper.com, averaging nationwide now, insurance costs annually $11,000 for a family, over $4,000 for a single male. A mammogram can cost as much as $212 and the average colonoscopy bill is $3,081.

If the law is repealed, the uninsured would continue to do as they do now: Put off colon, breast, prostate, diabetes screening, or prenatal care, and instead only seek very expensive care in the ER after they become very ill, with the high costs of treatment eventually shifted to everyone else paying for premiums, deductibles and copays. Repeal would reinstate the practice of charging women as much as two times higher insurance premiums than men. Pregnancy could again be an uncovered pre-existing condition. Medical bills would continue to be the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy.

Thanks to Obama’s health care reform, there is no longer a lifetime limit on coverage. In Colorado, 362,000 women have seen their coverage for preventive services like mammograms expanded. About 282,000 seniors and people with disabilities who have Medicare have already received free preventive care; 44,000 young people are now staying on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26. The donut hole in Medicare drug coverage was closed.

The GOP would take away all in the name of freedom, choice, small government and cost. Ah ,then, how great the joys of freedom, limited government, and choice. Great for those who can afford it, that is.

For more commentary, go to http://www.mufticforum.com

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