The Tax Attic with Jerry Coon – August 6, 2009

 

Jerry Coon, Enrolled Agent

Jerry Coon, Enrolled Agent

Should the government be in charge of our health care?

I think it’s time that we discuss the new health care reform initiative that is working its way through Congress. Most of us will agree that our health care system has problems, and those problems have to be addressed.

Most of us will agree also that our health care system really has no equal in the world when it comes to delivering health care to the public. If I have an immediate health problem, whether I have insurance or not, I can go to any one of a number of emergency rooms in the area and very quickly be well-taken-care-of. If I should require surgery, it’s scheduled and gets done.

We don’t have the delays that our friends up in Canada encounter. The Canadians come south of the border to our Mayo Clinic or the Cleveland Clinic for diagnosis and/or surgeries when their system is out of money for the year.

We also don’t have the end-of-life issues that some of our European friends encounter. It’s expensive, really expensive, to care for our elderly, but no government bureaucrat is presently making an end-of-life decision for us based on the economics of the situation. It’s hard for me to imagine that a government bureaucrat in Washington, who has written a set of guidelines, could decide that one of us is too old to have a surgery, too old for a certain procedure, or just too old to treat. That’s a little scary.

However, we have several negatives in our present system. We have an inordinate amount of people who are not covered by insurance and the number of people who can’t afford to pay for any coverage seems to be rising daily. We have a system with costs that are spiraling upward at a rate faster than the cost of attending college. We have the baby boomers, a group of people who are all getting older at the same time. They are going to live longer than previous generations and are going to put stresses on the health care system that could be crushing.

We are a country that is searching for a blue-ribbon solution that will take the best part of our present health care system, which is the access to the world’s best health care, and make it affordable to the masses while keeping the costs in this stratosphere so that future generations won’t be insanely taxed. Did I mention all the while maintaining accessibility to the world’s best health care? It’s a real dilemma.

The debate that has raged for years now concerns whether or not the government should be in charge of the system. Has the system become so big and unwieldy that private industry cannot control it? Does it need a third party to set the rules of engagement, so to speak, with that third party being the United States government? Is the government the only entity than can set the rules for all to follow that will maintain accessibility and control costs at the same time? That debate has now seriously, for the first time, reached the floor of the House and the halls of the Senate.

Many of us can remember back during the Clinton presidency, there was an effort made to reform the health care system. For whatever set of reasons, it failed miserably. The federal government does not give up easily, though, and they are giving it another shot. Their newest attempt is called “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.” Its stated goal is “to provide affordable, quality healthcare for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.” Now that’s a lofty set of goals!

The “for other purposes” does cause me to pause and think for a second. I would equate that term to the “other duties as assigned” in a job description. It could mean doing almost any task the boss wants to have completed. It could mean giving the government the utmost flexibility in dealing with health care issues, or it could mean there is a whole litany of pet pork projects included in the bill. Either way, “for other purposes” has a poor connotation in my mind.

I have read the highlights of the bill. The whole bill is monstrously long, so I’m not sure how many people, including our Senators and Representatives, have actually read the entire bill, but the highlights are most interesting. Next week, I will begin reviewing those highlights. This is Jerry Coon signing off.

 Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent. He owns Action
Tax Service at 10271 Northland Dr. in Rockford.
He can be reached at (616) 866-4704

or at jcoon@actiontaxservice.com.

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