Our current healthcare system costs about twice per capita compared to other industrialized countries, with drug prices two to three times as high. Prices have risen exponentially, much faster than the rate of inflation. Not to mention that 40 – 50 million Americans have no healthcare insurance coverage whatsoever, many of whom are children. For decades, this issue has been a major concern for many American citizens.
At a time when our country is engaged in a war on two fronts and legislation is being written at a dizzying pace, Congress decided to take action. The action was immediately praised, but that praise diminished significantly when the proposed legislation was revealed to the public.
For instance, the “single payer” option was quickly dropped from the House bill and subsequently from congressional dialogue. A “public option” was introduced to compete with high prices, yet in the Senate bill this was also dropped. In a timely fashion, Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced an amendment that would allow states to implement such accommodations independently of the federal government. It was stripped from the House bill, yet did influence legislatures nationwide, evident in the recent passing of SB-810, which calls for a single-payer system in California. It is expected that Governor Schwarzenegger will veto the bill, as he has done twice previously to kill similar proposals.
One aspect of the proposed bill is particularly troubling to many Americans. What is sometimes called the “healthcare-or-jail” part of the bill imposes penalties on those who do not secure health insurance. Therefore, it certainly can be said that this bill is maintaining— and even benefiting— the privatized healthcare system that frustrated so many citizens to begin with. Fines (which may escalate to imprisonment) will not be prevalent, however, since most people receive a paycheck from a legitimate, legally adhering corporation in exchange for their labor. If they are “legally adhering,” they will simply deduct a percentage from the paychecks of those who do not have health insurance. Like the income tax—and we know how popular that is— this deduction will be nonnegotiable, regardless of its constitutional legitimacy.
States are fighting back, though, beginning with Virginia. They recently passed a bill that prohibits Virginians from being required to purchase healthcare. Other states are expected to follow suit, and many Americans are seeking an alternative solution.
Dr. Ron Paul and CA congressional candidate, John Dennis, have suggested alternative solutions to our problematic healthcare system: make healthcare expenses tax deductible. “We should be very generous with tax credits. Give tax credits for the entire amount of money you spend on medical care, so you can be independent,” said Paul. John Dennis suggests “making all out-of-pocket medical expenses tax deductible” and “making insurance premiums paid by individuals tax deductible.”
Unfortunately, however, simplicity typically isn’t appreciated in the House, as evident considering healthcare legislation that is 2,000 pages thick.