From Magic City Morning Star

R. D. Skidmore
Medicare Profits on the Loose
By RD Skidmore, Prof.
Dec 23, 2003 - 10:06:00 AM

So, after 35 years Medicare has been reformed.

Senator Ted Kennedy, a prominent Democrat, was initially for the reform. AARP is, or was, or still is, for the overhaul. Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Bill Thomas made the rounds of Sunday morning news shows to explain the need for Medicareís overhaul.
Richard Skidmore, Prof.

Medicare reform is needed so that our seniors will have adequately funded prescription drugs, and healthcare benefits in their retirement years - all at their, taxpayer expense.

President Bush signed the reform legislation, though now it is being called a Medicare boon, or boondoggle; or was that Compromise? In any case, it pumps an additional $400 million into Medicare.

The Democrats discovered that the Republicans had captured one of their re-election social programs. The progressive politicians became upset when they discovered that private business could now move many of their retirees into Medicare, thus increasing company profits. A sound business move, if ever there was one, increasing company profits that is, but where does the $400 million come from?

So letís call it a boon. But then why would the AFL-CIO and Senator Kennedy now hate it, along with some anti-big-government Republicans in the House of Representatives?

There is a list of beneficiaries in this besides the seniors, arenít there?

Well yes, insurance companies and prescription drug manufacturers for two. And isnít this the kind of reform that they wanted since they dumped a truck full of money financing political campaigns and in lobbying efforts of the members they helped elect?

Of course, thatís what theyíre supposed to do, given todayís economy and politics.

The Medicare Compromise is to help seniors purchase the prescription drugs that are too expensive, and some of the $400 million will help subsidize those purchases.

For the Pharmaceutical Industry this means more revenue and higher profits, but not lower prices. Private insurance companies will administer the benefit and they must also be paid for their efforts, which will also increase prices.

Now donít think for a moment that business is to be missionary work, unless you are socialist who sees profit and business as four letter words.

Efforts to reform Medicare are good, but Congress should restore the tax deduction we used to get when we purchased our own healthcare without government help.

Working American families and our seniors are still taxed on their out of pocket healthcare expenses. They must spend more than 7.5% of their income on healthcare costs before they are eligible for any tax burden relief?

If a family has taxable earnings of $35,000 per year they must first spend $2,625 in healthcare before they may begin to realize any tax relief on the next dollar spent for healthcare. They also pay an additional federal tax of $394 on the $2,625. That additional $394 in increased health cost through taxation makes it more difficult for Americans to provide for themselves.

OK, so Congress pumped an additional $400 million into Medicare, but Congress confiscated the ability of American families to provide healthcare for themselves through taxation. Surely this is unconscionable.

Corporations can deduct the payments for healthcare provided employees whether it is insurance payments or direct payments to healthcare providers and they may move retirees to Medicare. But the American Family cannot!

The average American taxpayer must be able to deduct 100% of their healthcare expenses from taxation. Whether that be payments for insurance plans or direct payments for healthcare costs.

Instead of tax manipulation gimmickry, would it not be simpler to allow Americans to receive the full benefit of the healthcare expenses they incur? Of course it would! On Schedule A, Congress only needs to remove the Medical expense limitations that rob Americans of providing for themselves the benefits of healthcare.

Americanís are able to make wiser choices when handling their financial resources if those resources are left with the earners and not confiscated through taxation. And their choices lower costs.

Congress should restore to the American taxpayer the ability to provide healthcare without the penalty of taxation. There will be no need for earned income credits, no take-backs, no givebacks, no confusing manipulations.

How can politicians publicly deny the average American Family the ability to provide for themselves healthcare? Let any politician rise up to their constituency and say: "No, you cannot have the tax benefit of healthcare, we will tax your health dollars because that is fair, and you have to pay your fair share." How long would they last?

Skidmore is a professor at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Ca. He may be contacted at

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