Letter to the Editor: Public Option Costs


I submitted a letter to the editor in the past few weeks concerning the numbers of the uninsured in this country as well as the cost of the program to the government.

The primary point of contention with that letter seems to have been with the numbers I cited, (and it didn’t help that the Herald Palladium gave the letter a headline of “phony numbers”) but the crux of my argument was not the numbers in question those were to merely point out that it is disingenuous to use them in order to say that the problem is extreme and needs our attention immediately, the real point I wanted to make in that letter concerning health care is that it is too costly for our government to fund a public option.

The congressional budget office has run numerous reports citing the deficits our government must run in order to fund the plan being considered. We mention sustainable spending and activity constantly, and it’s pretty clear that continuing to run and fund programs that require massive deficits won’t send our government into the black, but into the territory of not meeting its financial obligations. That is clearly not a sustainable state of affairs.

The only way to decrease deficit spending in that scenario would be to craft and implement new or increased taxes. In our progressive income tax structure the brunt of the burden likely will fall on the small percentage of the population making the most money. In many cases that means small businesses, or other providers of jobs. Taxes are to innovation, progress, and chances of employment what bleach and ammonia are to bacteria. An extreme comparison, but you get my point.

But, taxes will also be raised for the poor; not only directly through income taxes but also through increased taxation on various vices, luxury items, et cetera that create a regressive tax structure. These sorts of taxes (not relating to income) are more likely to be felt by lower income earners than those earning a higher income.

I agree, the costs of health care are indeed extremely high, and reform is needed to make the insurance market more open and competitive, but the option currently on the table is too large, too expensive, and not deliberated well enough for me to say that this is the reform we need; this option does not breed competitiveness or control costs in a way that is beneficial to the future operation of this nation or the well‐being of its people; it creates a future tax obligation that will be impossible to meet.

So, let’s continue the discussion, let’s critique each other’s facts and ideas and hash out some kind of solid, truly sustainable reform, but let’s remember to not disparage one another simply because we cannot agree; instead let’s figure out why we do, and see if we can find some common points of concern to address in any future healthcare legislation.

Mike Mattner

Update: I was told this was published in the rag of record in our region, however I never saw it and was never informed of it being published. Oh well.