Thursday, September 03, 2009

Obama's Health Care Mushroom Cloud

Among the dozens of new Executive Branch agencies to be created by Obama and the 1,018 pages of the Democrat's health reform bill, H.R. 3200, are sections that would greatly expand the information gathering and enforcement power of the IRS, Internal Revenue Service.

Declan McCullagh of CBS News wrote on Aug 26, 2009:

Under the various proposals now on the table, the IRS would become the main agency for determining who has an "acceptable" health insurance plan; for finding and punishing those who don't have such a plan; for subsidizing individual health insurance costs through the issuance of a tax credits; and for enforcing the rules on those who attempt to opt out, abuse, or game the system. A substantial portion of H.R. 3200, the House health care bill, is devoted to amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in order to give the IRS the authority to perform these new duties.

The Democrats' plan would require all Americans to have "acceptable" insurance coverage (the legislation includes long and complex definitions of "acceptable") and would designate the IRS as the agency charged with enforcing that requirement. On your yearly 1040 tax return, you would be required to attest that you have "acceptable" coverage. Of course, you might be lying, or simply confused about whether or not you are covered, so the IRS would need a way to check your claim for accuracy. Under current plans, insurers would be required to submit to the IRS something like the 1099 form in which taxpayers report outside income. The IRS would then check the information it receives from the insurers against what you have submitted on your tax form.
Section 431(a):
The IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and "other information as is prescribed by" regulation. That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for "affordability credits."
Section 245(b)(2)(A):
The IRS must divulge tax return details -- there's no specified limit on what's available or unavailable -- to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify "affordability credits."
Section 1801(a):
The Social Security Administration can obtain tax return data on anyone who may be eligible for a "low-income prescription drug subsidy" but has not applied for it.
A previous bill, HR 1: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law by Obama Feb. 17, 2009 contains a 140 page section of the 800 page law that, according to CNET, "is intended to radically reshape the nation's medical system by having the government establish computerized medical records that would follow each American from birth to death." The government recognizes many citizens do not want their medical records electronically stored and shared "with over 600,000 covered entities through the forthcoming nationally linked electronic health records network," said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom, a nonprofit group that advocates health care privacy." There is, however, no method provided for opting out.

Congressional Democrat leaders have in mind long time-frame-goals. The already voted and signed law puts into the hands of a
"still-to-be-named health care bureaucrat the "goal of utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014." Selecting official standards will be left to the Department of Health and Human Services (page 265).

The databases will, "at a minimum," include information on every American's race and ethnicity. They will be used for "biosurveillance and public health" and "medical and clinical research," both of which raise privacy questions. They will become part of a "nationwide system for the electronic use and exchange of health information."
Add the power of a nearly unfettered IRS, and the government will have total control of the financial, physical, and psychological health of every American from cradle to grave to be implemented by 2014. Physicians not using the Federal electronic records system will be punished with declining reimbursements beginning 2015, the resulting loss of income almost guaranteeing compliance or retirement.

In many versions of health care reform winding through Congress, says the Washington Examiner yesterday,
the IRS would be the key to making the system work. Before you could receive any subsidy, whether through the IRS or not, the Health Choices Administration would have to determine whether you are eligible for it. To do so, the bills under consideration would give the Health Choices Commissioner the authority to demand sensitive, confidential information from the IRS about individual taxpayers. The IRS would have to provide it.

Under current law, it is a felony for a government official to release taxpayer information in all but the most limited of circumstances. One such exception is for law enforcement; the IRS is allowed to give taxpayer information to prosecutors in criminal cases. The information can also, in some instances, be released to the Social Security Administration and the Veterans' Administration for the determination of benefits. The health care bills would change the Internal Revenue Code to permit the IRS to give similar information to the vast, new health care bureaucracy.

That means the personal tax information of millions of Americans would enter the system whether they want it to or not. "There's a mandate to buy insurance," says one Republican House aide. "You have to buy it. You have millions of people who can't buy it without a subsidy, so they will have no choice but to accept the subsidy in order to buy insurance, and then the Health Choices Commissioner will have access to their tax records."
The majority of the public debate has focused on the "Public Option". Obama has indicated he is willing to abandon the public option, but with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 already law plus HR 3200 minus the public option sections, government mandated and controlled health care is still a near inevitability, but only if the entire redesign of America project isn't stopped. The reform pushers know the public option can be added later after the bulk of the current health care system has been dismantled.

Many involved in the debate have considerable concerns about IRS involvement in health care. The first concern is whether the IRS is capable of managing the new duties.
"There is a sense at the IRS that their purpose is to collect revenue and not to implement all sorts of other programs," says a second Senate GOP aide. "Also, the IRS isn't necessarily great at doing what it does already. How is it going to determine whether 300 million people have health insurance?"
Second, fraud and abuse are endemic to any government program.
"You're going to have lots of fraud," says the House source. "People claiming lots of affordability credits or refundable tax credits. The IRS is not going to have the resources and expertise to police this stuff."
Third is the question of whether the IRS should be involved in health care at all.
As seen in the town halls across the country in August, many Americans are concerned about the coercive nature of the proposed national health care system. Handing the IRS the power to monitor every American's place in the system worries them even more.
A new word has recently come into the government control debate in relation to the Presidential Address to School Children next week. The word is "innocuous." It means "1. Having no adverse effect; harmless. 2. Not likely to offend or provoke to strong emotion; insipid."

The various parts of a nuclear armed ballistic missile may seem innocuous to a layperson when seen individually. Put the parts together and they are anything but innocuous. Obama's vision for America seems innocent enough when viewed one at a time and described very benignly. Assemble the various pieces of legislation and, like the constructed nuclear ballistic missile, massive destruction ensues without warning leaving only shadows of freedom on our memories.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Indigo Rose said...

"The IRS would be the key to making the system work"
Shoot,the IRS hasn't even figured out how to run the IRS!
We've been audited twice... the IRS tried to make us pay taxes on a business we didn't own. We had to give them the information on the owner that they couldn't find (ss#, address, phone number).
It took several calls to reach the IRS and speak to someone... and English wasn't the guys first language!
I figure if they cannot run the system they have been trained to run and they seem to be understaffed, then they really do not need to have control of anything else that has to do with me, my family, our income, our health or anything else.

Anonymous said...

My grandchildren are never going to know the kind of freedom that I have taken for granted all of my life. It is sad to watch in my declining years. Don

Anonymous said...

This is the perfect campaign issue. Nearly all Americans hate the IRS. The GOP should remind voters in 2010 that Democrats want to massively empower that already overbearing agency.

(P.S. Something is screwed up with Google identities. I am unable to log on as Mike's America)

Indigo Red said...

The IRS angle is a winner for any non-Ass Party. American across dislike the IRS more than Congress, car salesmen, and inlaws combined.

That we have taken freedom for granted all our lives is the cause. That we taught so by America's Greatest Generation is the cause. It should have come as no surprise that someday a generation would come to despise everything America is. We became complacent and confident. Overconfidence is always a losing position.