Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shouldn't we have talked about this?

No really, I am not kidding.

The Democrats never even bothered to talk to us, before slamming universal health care down our throats.

One day- that was it. The Democrats gave Wisconsinites one single day to talk about this plan before they voted on it.

I received some emails yesterday asking me how I felt about this new health care plan. Some folks were furious, some were just curious.

Let me start by saying- under no circumstances am I in favor is letting our state government handle my health care.

Like the rest of your folks, all I know is what I have read in the papers.

So far- this is what we have been told-

How it works is employers and employees will pay into the Healthy Wisconsin Trust. Employees' contributions are four-percent of their social security wages. Employers contribute 10.5-percent of social security wages. That mean on an average salary of $42,300, an employee pays $140 and the employer pays $370 a month. Sole proprietors or those with other sources of income pay 10-percent of income up to a cap.

The reason we know so very little about this plan is because the Democrats haven't bothered to discuss this with anyone.

We have also been told that this plan is similar to the Canadian health care system.

For the most part, this is all we know about this plan. That's it!

So here are some questions. Since this has already passed the Senate, I expect answers immediately.

The above plan states that an employee must pay on average $140 per month. Is this for family coverage?

If not, does that mean that both a husband and wife that are working and paying taxes- will they both be paying $140 per month?

How about junior's job? Is junior also paying for his own insurance?

My guess is that the $140 per month is only for single coverage. The Democrats have not bothered to tell us the real numbers and how much it will cost for family coverage.

More questions- I work in Illinois, but live in Wisconsin. How does this work?

Is my Illinois employer part of this plan?

Why is this plan mandatory and not voluntary?

Since this plan is based on percentages, does that mean every time I get a raise- my insurance payments and my employers payments will go up?

As it is- it is difficult to get in to see a doctor in a timely fashion- won't this send the Wisconsin health care system into a crisis? After all, we are adding hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites to the same system.

Last question for today(although there will be more) -

Hey Democrats, shouldn't we have talked about this?

I would like to receive answers to the above questions immediately. I assume state Senator Bob Wirch has answers to these questions, because he already voted to approve this insurance.

I will let you know when he answers.


RAG said...

You raised these questions more comprehensively than I did on my blog.

Major legislation should be the result of careful, nonpartisan study. This was neither.

Anonymous said...

I agree that something this major should, indeed, be the subject of well thought out discussion, etc. I just wonder, however, where your outrage was a mere two years ago when conservative Republicans used the same tactics to try and ram TABOR down our throats.

The Recess Supervisor said...

So, in other words, they did exactly what Assembly Republicans did last session when they were holding hearings on unpublished drafts of TABOR.

To answer your questions:

- Employees pay 4% of their Social Security wages. If your family makes $42,300 annually, your monthly premium is $141 (that's 4% of your earnings). If your family makes $84,600, your monthly premium is $282. There's no real distinction between single and family coverage. Workers pay 4% and everyone is eligible for coverage.

- If junior is making money, Junior is paying, because Junior is a taxpayer just like mom and dad. For purposes of income determinations, Junior is a dependent until 19 (or 21 if he's in school).

- If you work in Illinois but are a resident of Wisconsin, you already know that you pay your income tax to Wisconsin via reciprocity. Your Illinois employer may withhold for you but is not required by Illinois law to do so. Presumably, then, a similar arrangement would be established with this assessment, or you could be required to pay annually when you file your income taxes.

- I seriously doubt we can compel an out-of-state employer to contribute to Healthy Wisconsin. We only having taxing authority over Wisconsin residents and Wisconsin businesses.

- The plan isn't mandatory. I'm not sure where people are getting that from. Nobody is compelled to participate. You don't have to take the insurance, but you do have to pay. Think of it like the property taxes you pay for public schools. You pay even if you send your kids to a private school.

- Yes. When you get a raise, you will contribute 4% of every extra dollar of your Social Security wages.

- You're right, we may need more doctors at some point, particularly those in general practice. The marketplace for doctors will adapt in that regard, I'm sure.

Hope that helps. I'm not Senator Wirch, but all it took was five minutes of reading the Senate amendment and a rudimentary understanding of tax law. However, answering questions yourself is not nearly as fun as writing about those questions in an exasperated tone, with an expectation that your Senator do all of your research for you.


K. Carpenter said...

I don't know where you guys were at- but TABOR was hashed and re-hashed for a year and half- in my neck of the woods at least.

By the way- the AP story is the one telling people that this is mandatory-

"The Democratic-backed universal health care plan that cleared the Senate this week takes a different approach by mandating insurance coverage for everyone in the state not on Medicare or the state's existing program that Doyle wants to expand. It would start in 2009."

K. Carpenter said...

"We only having taxing authority over Wisconsin residents and Wisconsin businesses."

Yeah- check again.

Anonymous said...

"The plan isn't mandatory. I'm not sure where people are getting that from. Nobody is compelled to participate. You don't have to take the insurance, but you do have to pay." Perhaps the stupidest statement ever, even for RS. If I can't opt of of paying for it, it is MANTATORY.

That is the awful part of this. It is bad enough that the state thinks it can manage healthcare more efficiently than the private sector (based on their track record of incompetence, corruption, and waste?), but forcing everyone to pay for this train wreck is abominable.

Russ said...

There is another very suspicious piece to the Democrats "Healthy Wiscosnin". The state government will collect the premiums in the form of a patroll tax. The government will then pay premiums to private health insurance companies. WHY???
The Massachusetts "Commonwealth Connector" provides a web site that clearly provides plan benefits and prices for all plans available in the state. The individual or family picks a plan best suited for their needs and sends their premium payments direct to the insurance company. Of course health insurance in Massachusetts is now manditory BUT they have a choice. For example the average MA resident can buy a health plan for $175 per month. Now, the question of the day. WHY does the state of Wiscosnin want to collect the premiums only to redistribute the money to private insurance companies??? As they say THAT does not pass the smell test.

The Recess Supervisor said...

Which of the 20 versions of TABOR were you discussing? People have been discussing universal approaches to health care for decades. If you're counting abstract debates on TABOR, better cut the slack both ways lest ye be branded a hypocrite.

Healthy Wisconsin is not mandatory any more than public education is mandatory. You have to pay property taxes to fund your local school district, but you can still send your kids to a private school if you want. You just have to pay twice.

This is *exactly* the same. Sen. Erpenbach has stated on multiple occasions that they're estimating that 15,000 people will not participate for religious or other reasons. If one can choose not to participate, a plan is not mandatory.

And since when do conservatives believe anything the AP reports? Aren't they a bunch of conniving liberals?

Pardon me for trying to keep the discussion focused on what the bill actually does. Some of you would clearly prefer to do otherwise.

Also, if my recollection of the Commerce Clause is correct, states can only subject an out-of-state business to income tax if the business has a nexus within the taxing state. Kathy, if I'm wrong, perhaps you can direct me to a particular law that would prove otherwise. I know that it's way easier to be dismissive than to offer proof, but I'd like to learn if you'd like to educate me.


RAG said...

Not really fair to compare this to TABOR. This is a massive shift in state policy with enormous implications. It wouldn't matter which party would try to ram something like this through, as far as I'm concerned, because a hasty approach in any event is wrong no matter who was the original proponent. In this case it happened to be Democrats.

I'm one Republican who does not believe in using labels glibly as perjorative terms. If someone has done something to earn being burned, that's a different story.

The Recess Supervisor said...

It's completely fair to compare this to TABOR. TABOR, too, was a "massive shift in state policy with enormous implications." Republicans would've rammed that through if they could've but they couldn't find enough people willing to completely sell out their local governments.

I will agree with you though that a deliberative, inclusive approach would be better on these sorts of issues. Alas, politics is what it is these days, and in that vein, the Democrats' approach is excellent politically. "Don't you deserve the same health care as your legislators?" is a message that is going to ring loudly and clearly with voters, and it's one that has totally caught the AssGOP flatfooted.

K. Carpenter said...

RS- apparently you missed the Lenny Palmer show yesterday. Senator Wirch got to hear exactly what folks thought about your politically winning issue.

My guess is that Wirch is a little out of sore today, after the beat down he received yesterday.

jeff said...

It is interesting to look at the issue of teacher participation. Senator Wirch on the Lenny Palmer show yesterday said that teachers would be a part of the program yet the bill's sponsor has said they would be exempt.

Which is the truth? Does anyone even know for sure??