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article imageOp-Ed: America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009, death and taxes

By Jay David Murphy     Sep 16, 2009 in Health
The Senate Finance Committee released the proposed America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009. It's 223 pages and is going to make every American personally responsible to purchase health care insurance by 2013 then report it to the IRS.
If you thought the health care issue was getting dicey, it is just about to go nuclear with some of the new changes and provisions in the 223-page document just released today by the Senate Finance Committee. It may not be the biggest document in US history but once it starts to get analyzed, people are libel to very vocal.
There are wholesale changes throughout the proposed America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 (opens in PDF).
Digital Journalist Jay David Murphy began to work on the breakdown of the proposal when he came across something very interesting:
On page 31 of this document under the heading of “Personal Responsibility Requirement,” it says:
Beginning in 2013, all U.S. citizens and legal residents would be required to purchase coverage through (1) the individual market, a public program such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children‘s Health Insurance Program, Veteran‘s Health Care Program, or TRICARE or through an employer (or as a dependent of a covered employee) in the small group market, meeting at least the requirements of a bronze plan, or (2) in the large group market, in a plan with first dollar coverage for prevention-related services as recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – except in cases where value-based insurance design is used and cannot have a maximum out-of-pocket limit greater than that provided by the standards established for HSA current law limit. Exemptions from the requirement to have health coverage would be allowed for religious objections that are consistent with those allowed under Medicare, and for undocumented aliens. An individual enrolled in a grandfathered plan would be deemed to have met the responsibility requirement.
In order to ensure compliance, individuals would be required to report on their Federal income tax return the months for which they maintain the required minimum health coverage for themselves and all dependents under age 18. In addition to this self-attestation by individuals of qualified coverage, insurers (including employers who self-insure and therefore act as insurers), must report information on health insurance coverage information to both the covered individual and to the Internal Revenue Service. This information includes months of coverage in the tax year and individuals covered on the policy and may include other relevant information. A similar reporting requirement would apply to employers with respect to individuals enrolled in group health plans if the reporting is not provided by the insurer (for example in the case of self-insured plans) and for those enrolled in public health insurance plans.
These two paragraphs set the stage and raise the curtain for what it sure to be a fire storm of public comment, and more rounds of events like the “tea party” and others.
What this boils done to is this, first all Americans will be required by law to purchase some form of accepted health insurance and provide members of their families under 18 years of age with insurance.
Second, the reporting system of compliance to this law will fall to and expand the Internal Revenue Services scope of influence into American lives.
It seems as if the Senate Finance Committee solution is to require Americans to purchase health insurance, not unlike mandatory auto insurance and then give more power to the Internal Revenue Service making them the guardian of American health.
Further, in this section it states, that “The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax.”
From there it gets very complicated with lots of stipulations. It should take years for lawyers to sift through and the courts to interpret on.
But the old axiom has finally come to life: "There are only two things for certain in life, death and taxes,” and now the Senate Finance Committee has decided that the Internal Revenue Service should be the administrator of “health and money" in the United States.
There are 223 pages in this document but these two paragraphs on page 31, set the stage for the next battles on health care in America. The Senate Finance Committee sees health care as a financial issue for each American to be responsible for. At least those Americans with a job and are paying taxes.
There is still some more work to do on this document before it goes to the Senate floor, but now it is out and so now it is open for inspection and discussion. So if you thought things were exciting before, just wait, the Senate is putting it out there that the IRS will be responsible for compliance of both “death and taxes.”
The Chairman of the Senate Committee of Finance is Max Baucas, Democrat of from Montana and the ranking member of the committee is Chuck Grassely Republican from Iowa.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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