Senate health bill increases the tax burden on already burdened special needs kids and families
My wife is a nurse. While she used to do the hospital thing, caring for six or seven post-operative patients every shift, Joanna now works with special needs children, many of them with medical problems simply unfathomable to any who haven’t interacted with them, or their families.
Much of her time at work is spent caring for these children at their school. Because many are so low-functioning, the stories I hear aren’t as much about interaction with the children as they are about interaction with the other nurses, aides and educators. For the most part, they’re all very nice but have an undying affinity for Barack Obama and his administration — it’s a wonder Joanna’s tongue doesn’t hurt from having to bite it so much.
While there’s apparently an unwritten rule prohibiting talk of politics in the classroom, much of the conversation recently has naturally revolved around health care reform. I’ll be curious to hear what Joanna’s co-workers think of this, from Americans for Tax Reform:
There are 18 separate tax hikes in the Reid-Obama healthcare bill. One of them caps the amount that can be deferred in Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) at $2500 per year (a similar provision was included in the Pelosi-Obama health bill and written about by Congressman Cathy McMorris-Rogers, R-Was., for National Review Online) . . . There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly-cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year.
And, from the aforementioned National Review piece from Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers:
The Baucus bill would also raise the threshold for deductible medical expenses from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of gross income. That, too, would negatively impact families caring for disabled individuals: for a family with allowable medical expenses of more than $6,600 (which is very likely for most parents of children with special needs), raising the threshold from which they can deduct medical expenses from their gross income will cost $539 in income and payroll taxes right off the bat. Combined with the FSA limit, then, this family would face $1,355 in new taxes by 2013.
If that wasn’t enough, parents of children with special needs are also more likely to rely on a “high-premium health plan” (a plan that provides more coverage and therefore costs more than a standard plan). The Baucus proposal imposes yet another large tax on such “high-cost” plans. Depending on their coverage, families who have such a plan can expect a punitive tax of 40 percent. Also, as a result of cost inflation in health care, the tax will hit everyone eventually. In fact, most health plans providing good coverage today would be subject to the new tax sometime in the next few years.
Should Congress really be trying to finance health care reform on the backs of families who are already carrying a substantial financial burden? Isn’t it ironic that a mandate to make health care more affordable for the most vulnerable Americans has morphed into a tax hike on those with disabilities and their families?
Instead of making it harder for families with high medical expenses to deduct those costs, we should be making it easier. Rather than making tax-protected FSAs essentially worthless, we should be encouraging their use, albeit with more efficiency.
While health reform is a worthy goal, we shouldn’t pay for it by taxing those who already have high medical costs because they or someone in their family has a disability. That would defeat the very purpose of such reform. And we can’t allow it to happen.
Golly, aren’t Democrats the ones always clamoring for more and more expensive and redundant accessibility features for the disabled? Isn’t the Democratic Party supposed to be the party of compassion? Aren’t they the ones who are supposedly the “Party of the Little Guy?”
Instead, not only does the liberal plan for health care reform overtly restrict freedom by capping Flexible Spending Accounts, it does so at the expense of some of the most vulnerable among us. Not to mention the educators, aides and nurses whose jobs depend upon special needs students being able to attend school.
Just the other day, I was saying how much I’d like to drop in on lunch and the lunchtime discussion at Joanna’s school. If there’s anything that gets me going, it’s people who make nonsensical arguments based on emotion and a complete dearth of fact and reality. Whether I bring it to their attention or someone else does, I’m curious to hear whether the reality of the health care reform legislation has an effect on the unwavering support for the president.