The intellectual-gymnastics competition also extends to indirect taxes. Costs that will ultimately be passed on to consumers include tens of billions in proposed levies on the companies that produce power wheelchairs, insulin pumps, cardiac defibrillators, hearing aids, contact lenses, and other medical devices. The same holds true for billions in taxes on drugs to fight cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart disease and on certain expensive health-insurance plans. And physicians (and other providers of Medicare services) will surely find ways to pass on the new $350 “screening” fee lawmakers want to impose on those who treat Medicare patients.
And that’s just the tax carnage the Senate Finance Committee’s bill proposes to visit on us denizens of the middle class. Other proposals offer up exciting new ways to raise taxes while avoiding “the perception that the middle class is going to be taxed.”
To be fair, the leading House proposals raise most of their revenue from a massive new surtax on the “rich,” thus partially honoring the president’s tax pledge. But these bills also include debilitating financial penalties — tantamount to new payroll taxes — on employers who fail to offer “acceptable” health-insurance coverage. Individuals who choose to go without coverage must pony up a pretty penny to the IRS as well.
No, it is impossible to look at these bills without concluding that, like water flowing down a mountain stream, all these costs will eventually trickle down to ordinary Americans. Convince Main Street of that, and the prospects for big government health-care reform will evaporate.
– Michael G. Franc is vice president for government relations of The Heritage Foundation.