Friday, July 10, 2009

Somebody's gotta pay for this thing

Funding Health Care. Tax the rich, tax passive income, make big pharma pay, soda pop tax, make "non-profit" hospitals chip in more. These are the options currently on the table:

* Expanding the 1.45% Medicare payroll tax on earned income to "passive income," or unearned income, which could raise $100 billion;

* A 5% surtax on individuals who earn more than $500,000 and couples who earn more than $1 million;

* A tax on employer-sponsored health benefits at a level higher than previously considered, with one proposal to tax plans worth more than $20,300 for a family and $8,300 for an individual. The proposal could raise $240 billion. Another option would be to increase the cutoff to plans worth more than $25,000, which could raise $90 billion;

* Capping the tax break on itemized deductions at 28%, which could raise $168 billion, or a freeze on the top deduction rate at 35%, which could raise $90 billion;

* Issuing tax credit bonds to pay for the proposed Medicaid expansion, which could generate $75 billion in new revenue;

* Charging fees to pharmaceutical companies and insurers, which could generate up to $20 billion and $75 billion, respectively;

* Raising taxes on sugary drinks. A three-cent tax increase would generate $30 billion, while a 10-cent tax increase could result in $100 billion in new revenue (Budoff Brown/Rogers, Politico, 7/9); and

* Requiring that not-for-profit hospitals provide a minimum amount of charity care, which would both increase the amount of care provided that the federal government does not fund and force those hospitals not providing enough no-cost care out of tax-exempt status (Martinez, Wall Street Journal, 7/10);

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