CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE FAVORS TAX EQUITY IN PURCHASING HEALTH INSURANCE



For Immediate Release Contact: Elizabeth Wright
January 21, 1999 (202) 467-5300

(Washington, D.C.) –   During a news conference today at the National Press Club, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s (CAHI) unveiled its latest study, Federal Tax Equity:  Increasing Health Care Choices and Reducing the Number of Uninsured Through Tax Credits.   Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) Health and Science Director Elizabeth Wright joined CAHI at the event, and made the following statement:


“Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with more than 600,000 members, has since its inception, been at the forefront in educating the American public about waste, mismanagement and inefficiency in the federal government.  We have long been in favor of cutting the size of government and its ever increasing control over our lives.  In light of that, we are very pleased to be here to support the report and efforts that are being undertaken by the Council for Affordable Health Insurance.


“We are concerned that many of the healthcare reform bills that were proposed last year, and that have been proposed again so far this year, will continue the trend of putting more government bureaucrats in charge of everyday healthcare decisions that will lead to larger, obtrusive government bureaucracies, more government control, more expense and more waste.  And my message to doctors and patients is this – if you think HMOs are restrictive and lack quality, just wait until the government takes over your healthcare.


“We encourage citizens not to be lulled to sleep with lofty phrases such as a Patient Bill of Rights or Access to Quality Care.  I ask that you simply read these legislative proposals.  They can be found on the Internet at the Library of Congress Thomas site (http://thomas.loc.gov).  These bills claim that they will offer choice and quality, but it is the government that is defining what choice and quality mean.  In many instances, it is the government that determines the price, not the market.  It is the government that is making decisions on what will be covered and what will not be covered.  What the government gives – the government can take away.  More government mandates are not the solution.  It will only make matters worse and if we keep going in this direction, we will soon have socialized medicine.


“Today, most Americans get their healthcare insurance through their employer.  Employers are the largest purchasers of private health insurance.  Therefore, it is the employer that makes the decision on what type of health insurance a person gets, not the individual.  No wonder there is a perceived problem with quality and choice in healthcare plans.  But let’s take a closer look at what is really happening.  The employer simply takes part of the employee’s salary, converts it to a benefit – health insurance – and then the employer, not the employee, gets a tax break for purchasing healthcare insurance.


“We think there is a better way and that is to change the tax code.  It is time for tax equity.  All Americans, employers and citizens alike, should be treated the same in their purchase of health insurance premiums.  When Americans finally get direct purchasing power of their health insurance, it will allow true competition and we will see quality go up and prices go down.  It will provide for true portability – the insurance plan stays with the employee.  Even better, it will help the millions of Americans who do not get insurance through their employer to purchase it on their own at a price they can afford.


“This change will give Americans real choice, they can get their insurance through their employer or they can get it on their own.  Americans don’t allow their employers to make the important choice about the type of house they live in.  Why do we let employers have complete control over another important decision in our lives – our healthcare?


“Changing the tax code and allowing tax equity in the purchase of health insurance is an idea that Citizens Against Government Waste is promoting in conferences across our nation and we think it is an idea that many Americans will like.   We hope that Congress will consider this tax change because we believe it will empower the individual and benefit every American.”

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