Nearly 6 million Americans — most of them in the middle class — will face a tax penalty for not carrying medical coverage once President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law is fully in place, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday.
The new estimate amounts to an inconvenient fact for the administration, a reminder of what critics see as broken promises. The numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office are significantly higher than a previous projection by the same office in 2010, shortly after the law passed.
The earlier estimate found 4 million people would be affected. The difference — 2 million people– represents a 50 percent increase.
That’s still only a sliver of the population, given that more than 150 million people currently are covered by employer plans. Nonetheless, in his first campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000.
And the budget office analysis found that nearly 80 percent of those who’ll face the penalty would be making up to or less than five times the federal poverty level. Currently that would work out to $55,850 or less for an individual and $115,250 or less for a family of four. Average penalty: about $1,200 in 2016.
“The bad news and broken promises from ObamaCare just keep piling up,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who wants to repeal the law.
There was no immediate response from the administration.
The budget office said most of the increase in its estimate is due to changes in underlying projections about the economy, incorporating the effects of new federal legislation, as well as higher unemployment and lower wages.
Starting in 2014, the new health care law requires virtually every legal resident of the U.S. to carry health insurance or face a tax penalty. The Supreme Court upheld Obama’s law as constitutional in a 5-4 decision this summer, finding that the insurance mandate and the tax penalty enforcing it fall within the power of Congress to impose taxes. The penalty will be collected by the IRS, just like taxes.
The budget office said the penalty will raise $6.9 billion when fully in effect in 2016. The new law will also provide government aid to help middle-class and low-income households afford coverage, the financial carrot that balances out the penalty.
Nonetheless, some people might still decide to remain uninsured because they object to government mandates or because they feel they would come out ahead financially even if they have to pay the penalty. Health insurance is expensive, with employer-provided family coverage averaging nearly $15,800 a year for a family and $4,300 for a single plan.
The Supreme Court allowed individual states to opt out of a major Medicaid expansion under the law. The Obama administration says it will exempt low-income people affected by state decisions from having to comply with the insurance mandate.
Most Americans will not have to worry about the insurance requirement since they already have coverage through employers, government programs like Medicare or by buying their own policies.
Many Republicans still regard the insurance mandate as unconstitutional and rue the day the Supreme Court upheld it.
However, the idea for an individual insurance requirement comes from Republican health care plans in the 1990s.
It’s also a central element of the 2006 Massachusetts health care law signed by then-GOP Gov. Mitt Romney, now running against Obama and promising to repeal the federal law. The approach seems to have worked well in Massachusetts, with virtually all residents covered and dwindling numbers opting to pay the penalty instead.
by Scott Rasmussen
Democrats were riding high in the polls in 2006 and 2008, and one of their big issues was health care. Then, after passing the president’s health care law, the politics shifted, and the issue helped sweep the GOP to victory in the 2010 midterm elections. A few months later, Republicans had a 14-point advantage in terms of voter trust on the health care issue.
Then, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan introduced his health care plan, and the lead disappeared. Neither party has an advantage on the issue now.
President Obama’s plan is unpopular, and most want to see it repealed. Ryan’s plan is unpopular, and few want to see it enacted. Both plans are unpopular because neither one puts consumers in charge of their own health care decisions. More than anything else, that lack of consumer control is the root cause of the health care problems facing our nation today.
Americans now pay a smaller share of their disposable income on out-of-pocket medical care than they did in 1960. Nearly nine out of every 10 dollars spent on medical care coverage is paid by either an insurance company or the government. Since someone else is paying the bills, someone else ends up making the big decisions about things that affect every individual’s health care. That is precisely what most Americans want to change. No one wants their health care choices being made by government officials, insurance companies or their employer. People want to make those important decisions themselves.
Putting consumers in charge would require pretty radical change, but it’s the type of change voters could support. For example, consider a fairly typical situation where a company provides health insurance coverage for its workers. Rather than letting the company choose the plan, 82 percent believe that each worker should be allowed to use that money to pick his or her own insurance plan. If that plan ends up costing less than the official company plan, most believe the worker should be allowed to keep the change.
But giving consumers control of the money doesn’t mean much unless they have a variety of competing insurance plans to consider. Three out of four voters think it’s time to end the antitrust exemption granted to health insurance companies. Why? By a three-to-one margin, voters believe that increased competition among insurance companies would do more to reduce costs than increased government regulation.
Voters also want to reign in the government bureaucrats. Rather than letting the government define a one-size-fits-all insurance plan, 77 percent think individuals should have the right to choose between plans with a mix of higher deductibles and lower premiums or the reverse. Seventy-eight percent believe everyone should have the choice between more expensive plans that cover every medical procedure and lower cost plans that cover only major medical procedures.
To insure adequate choices, voters overwhelmingly believe that everyone should be allowed to buy insurance policies across state lines and that everyone should be able to purchase the same insurance coverage provided for members of Congress. Recognizing the importance of consumer incentives, most also believe insurance companies should be allowed to offer discounts to those who take care of themselves by exercising, eating well and not smoking.
Putting consumers in charge threatens the status quo in Washington, but it will give Americans a more responsive, less expensive system of medical care.
The National Restaurant Association applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012.
The bipartisan bill, which passed June 7, would lower the cost of health insurance for employers, such as restaurateurs, and return some flexibility to the use of Health Spending Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Reimbursement Accounts by restaurant employees and consumers.
“On behalf of the nation’s nearly 1 million restaurants, who employ nearly 13 million Americans, and the millions of guests we serve each day, the National Restaurant Association appreciates the continued efforts of members of Congress to address the affordability of health-care coverage through this legislation,” said Scott DeFife, the association’s executive vice president of policy and government affairs. “We look forward to continuing to work with Congress in creating an affordable and reasonable health-care system by addressing other health- and tax-related provisions driving up the cost of health-care coverage.”
The legislation, if enacted into law, would repeal prohibition on the use of FSA, HSA and HRA funds to purchase over-the-counter medications as well as change the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule for FSAs, allowing employees to cash out up to $500 in unused funds set aside for medical expenses. This would eliminate the unnecessary loss of funds, and the cashed out funds would be considered income and wages for tax purposes.
Restaurateurs have long supported efforts to improve the utilization and flexibility of those consumer directed health products, however, parts of the Affordable Care Act have limited their use, the NRA said.
According to the association, the Senate is not expected to vote on the House bill at this time.
Barack Obama has stated that it is critical that the healthcare bill in Congress, likely the Senate version, be passed by March 18, 7 days from now. There has been much discussion about the use of reconciliation to override the requirement of a 60 vote majority in the Senate. There also are numerous constituencies that object to some or all of the bill as written, eg. its language on taxpayer funded abortion, its effect on the federal deficit which already seems unsustainable, and progressives who want the public option.
So what can the Tea Party movement do to stop the bill?
1. There are those who are going to Washington D.C. to take the fight to the Senators and Congressmen, particularly the Blue Dog Democrats.
2. For those who can’t go to D.C., we must keep the pressure on our local Congressmen, particularly, Ciro Rodriguez and Henry Cuellar. How should we do that? Two ways… first, call their local and Washington offices every moment between now and March 18 stating your opposition to the health care bill, the use of reconciliation, and your willingness to remove them from office in November if they don’t vote against the bill; second, go to their local offices and ask for a meeting with the Congressmen’s local representatives to state the same message.
The Congressmen are saying that they are being inundated with support for the bill. However, most of the citizens in this country are against the bill. Bottom line is that you need to make known your position to undercut any such claims of support.
The San Antonio Tea Party needs a lot of volunteers to make the calls and go to the offices on a consistent schedule. Here is the proposed plan.
Call the offices of the following at the following times based on the first letter of your last name:
Henry Cuellar SA Office: (210) 271-2851; Fax: (210) 277-6671
D.C. office (202) 225-1640; Fax: (202) 225-1641
SA Office Address: 615 E. Houston St.
SA(north): (210) 561-9421; D.C. office (866) 915-3493
SA(north) Office Address: 6363 De Zavala #105
SA(south): (210) 922-1874
SA(south) Office Address: 1313 SE Military Dr. #101
First letter of your last name Time slot for your calls
A 8:30-9:00 AM
B 9:00-9:30 AM
C 9:30-10:00 AM
D 10:00-10:30 AM
E, F 10:30-11:00 AM
G 11:00-11:30 AM
H 11:30-12:00 PM
I, J 12:00-12:30PM
K, L 12:30-1:00 PM
M 1:00-1:30 PM
N, O 1:30-2:00 PM
P 2:00-2:30 PM
Q, R 2:30-3:00 PM
S 3:00-3:30 PM
T 3:30-4:00 PM
U, V 4:00-4:30 PM
W 4:30-5:00 PM
X, Y, Z 5:00-5:30 PM
For those who can’t call in the designated time slot, please
JUST CALL when your time allows.
Call Bill Rice at 210-428-1300 to schedule a time slot for a personal visit to each of the Representative’s office. This will allow us to utilize all those who wish to paricipate in an effective manner as possible. We are envisioning each volunteer going once to each of the three offices either all on a given day or spread apart over Monday to Wednesday, March 15-17.
Folks, its crunch time. If we share the load, we can GET THIS DONE. Please help
Pictures of Thursday’s Obamacare protest, in Alamo Plaza
(A nice turnout of about 40 from the SATP, plus the Boerne Tea Party, plus TV crews from KSAT 12, Fox and Univision)
In response to this column by “humorist” Garrison Keillor, which was published in the San Antonio Express News recently, Kenneth Bennight, the new SATP President of the Board of Directors had the following response:
Garrison Keillor plays off the Tea Party name, saying most Americans prefer coffee to tea. Though a board member of the San Antonio Tea Party, I too prefer coffee. And though Mr. Keillor and I both understand the historical reference of the Tea Party name, he finds it rhetorically useful to ignore.
Mr. Keillor next invokes the almost incomprehensible human suffering from the Haitian earthquake, apparently trying to tar Tea Parties with responsibility for natural disasters. Keillor’s prose is evocative. But wrapping himself in the pathos is a polemical tool, an emotional appeal unrelated to the substance of his argument.
Keillor correctly notes that healthcare reform proposals are too murky to explain clearly, but he blames that on trying to attract Republican votes. Obamacare did not rely on Republican votes, and the legislative contortions arose from attempts to draw in less ideologically committed among his own party, such a Ben “Sweepstakes” Nelson of Nebraska.
Keillor also correctly, albeit argumentatively, formulates the basic divide over Obamacare: whether health care should be a legally enforceable right. He and the left wing say “yes.” The San Antonio Tea Party believes rights remain as they were at our nation’s founding: not what the government might give you but protection from what the government might do to you.
In not one of the amendments comprising the Bill of Rights and nowhere else in the Constitution is there anything that the government must give you. Everything is focused either on organizing and running the government or on liberties the government must respect.
The reason is simple. Government creates nothing. Whatever government possesses, it has taken from those subject to it. To give a dollar to one person, government must first have taken the dollar from others. For you to have a legally enforceable right to the dollar, you must have a legally enforceable claim on the fruit of others’ labor. American history has a sordid episode when such claims existed: slavery.
Keillor tries to tie left-wing policy nostroms to Christian doctrine. I am hardly a theologian, but I don’t recall anything about Christ having a economic policy or saying people have a right to look to the state for support. If Christ demands a left-wing economic policy and left-wing economic policies are shown, as they have been, to impoverish people, where does that leave religion? As to the implied relationship between Tea Parties and Pat Robertson, if Keillor won’t blame us for what comes out of Robertson’s mouth, we won’t blame him for what comes out of Jeneane Garofalo’s.
The headline on Keillor’s column says Tea Parties “should wake up and smell the coffee.” After last Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts, perhaps Keillor himself has some smelling to do. That a little-known Republican is replacing Ted Kennedy in the United States Senate testifies to overreaching by the left wing. The people of Massachusetts did not like where they were being taken and screamed halt. In Massachusetts. The only state carried by George McGovern. What does Keillor think will happen in states with more conservative leanings? To quote another columnist, Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post: “You would think lefties could discern a proletarian vanguard when they see one.”
Back to the tea or coffee issue, Keillor may not be aware of the historical connection between the Boston Tea Party and the American preference for coffee. Both stem from the British tax on tea. Tea was initially preferred in America as it was in Britain, but Americans despised the British tax. Switching to coffee became a way to express solidarity against unfair taxation. No wonder so many Tea Partiers drink coffee. If Mr. Keillor comes to town, I’ll buy him a cup.