Kerry’s Health Care Plan is Still a Bad Idea


By: Greg C. Reeson

Although not a participant in this year’s mid-term election cycle, but perhaps in anticipation of another White House run, former Democratic Presidential hopeful and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry last month re-released his plan for health care coverage for all Americans. I say re-released because the ideas outlined in the plan are virtually the same as the ones he campaigned on during his 2004 bid for the Presidency. And, just as in 2004, the Senator’s plan is a very bad idea.

Kerry is proposing a federal requirement for all Americans to have health care coverage by 2012, less than six years from now, and coincidentally, just in time for a Kerry re-election campaign if he somehow wins the Presidency in 2008.

Included in Kerry’s plan is an expansion of the current Medicaid program to cover children and an opportunity for ordinary citizens to buy into the insurance coverage currently offered to federal workers, including, as the Associated Press noted, the members of Congress. Does anyone really believe that the general public will receive access to the same health care coverage as Congress?

And don’t worry if you think you can’t afford health insurance. Senator Kerry intends to have the federal government guarantee the financial means for your health care coverage. How’s he going to do that? In true-blue Democratic fashion, Senator Kerry plans to revive with increased vigor the long-standing leftist call to repeal President Bush’s tax cuts for those Americans who earn over $200,000 per year.

Senator Kerry’s plan to provide universal health care coverage at the expense of the Bush tax cuts, although very appealing to the political left, is economic nonsense. For starters, the plan to expand Medicaid is pointless unless the program is subjected to seriously needed reforms.

Medicaid already struggles to meet the health care needs of those it services because it has grown beyond its original intent and purpose. According to Heritage Foundation research, Medicaid currently provides care to over 53 million low-income Americans. The program is providing more services than it can sustain financially, resulting in a decline in the quality of its care, including lower reimbursement fees for doctors and limited access to prescription medications for patients. Unless Medicaid’s current problems are fixed, expanding the program will only contribute to bureaucratic waste and inefficiency that will ultimately hurt those most in need.

And, most economists agree that Senator Kerry’s plan to repeal the President’s tax cuts will be detrimental to the American economy. Under President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress, the top income tax rate fell from over thirty-nine percent to thirty-five percent, spurring investment and savings that have contributed to a steady decline in unemployment and record growth for the United States.

Repealing these tax cuts, or just letting them expire by not making them permanent, will increase the tax burden on those individuals most likely to spur economic activity, decrease the likelihood of investment, and retard the country’s economic progress.

Instead of repealing the tax cuts for those workers earning over $200,000 annually, other options for increasing accessibility to health care coverage should be explored. For example, the government could offer direct tax credits to low-income individuals and families that would allow them to purchase private health insurance themselves, thereby promoting individual choice and preventing an even further intrusion of the federal government into the lives of average Americans.

Senator Kerry’s plan for universal health care coverage will weaken current federal programs, further limit individual choice, and damage the American economy. It is an appeal to low-income Americans at the expense of their fellow citizens.

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if the proverbial shoe was suddenly on the other foot? What if the hard work of the Kerry plan’s beneficiaries eventually moved them into progressively higher tax brackets? I’m sure they wouldn’t mind at all if someone like Senator Kerry came along and asked them to pay just a little bit more of their hard-earned dollars in taxes to help out their fellow citizens. Or would they?

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