For immediate release
Saturday, August 22, 2009 - SALT LAKE CITY, UT -- Bennett/Wyden Healthy Americans Act (HAA) sacrifices the personal liberty of Americans, redistributes wealth in the name of health care reform and will result in job losses.
Salt Lake City- Senator Bob Bennett has joined the contentious health care debate. The compromise bill he co-sponsors with Democrat Senator Wyden of Oregon embraces a few critical free-market principles, but Mark Shurtleff said the bill will lead to unintended consequences that create more government control and erode personal liberty.
While the Bennett/Wyden Healthy Americans Act (HAA) promotes some critical principles important in any reform measure, Shurtleff said it does so at too great a cost – our personal liberty. In an August 5, 2009, Washington Post op-ed, Bennett admits that under his compromise bill Americans will be required by government “to have [health insurance] coverage and to provide subsidies where necessary to ensure that everyone can afford it.” The bill also mandates that American businesses pay a portion of employee health care premiums, and gives government the authority to tell insurance companies what their policies must cover.
“To paraphrase Ronald Reagan,” said Shurtleff. “Senator Bob Bennett and Washington, D.C. insiders need to stop looking at our tax dollars as means to create government subsidies and bring about social reform.”
As written now, the HAA bill will give coverage to low-income individuals. However, people who earn between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line would also receive subsidies on a sliding scale to help pay their premiums. This means that a family of four with an income of up to $88,000 a year would qualify for government subsidies to offset the cost of premiums.
"This type of government mandate and subsidy redistributes wealth through taxation," Shurtleff remarked. "Instead of Obamacare's one giant leap to socialized medicine, Bennettcare would have us take one small leap down the slippery slope of nationalized health insurance, littered with government mandates and subsidies. A reform package that compromises our personal liberties is no reform package at all.”
Bennett’s proposal places much of the tax burden for the new subsidy on the backs of small businesses that currently do not offer a health care benefit. Businesses are penalized with higher “employer shared responsibility payment” rates as the number of persons employed by the business increases. Shurtleff worries the job market will react negatively if Bennett’s bill is passed. Shurtleff observed, “Penalties for providing jobs is the wrong approach. Bob Bennett should be looking at ways to increase jobs, not the length of unemployment lines.”
Mark Shurtleff supports health care reform that increases the portability of insurance for individuals, allows individuals and small businesses to fully claim the same tax deductions large corporations currently enjoy, removes limitations on health savings accounts (HSAs), puts an end to outrageous malpractice damage awards, and allows for communities and groups to unite in associated health plans – provided the reform package doesn’t give government the authority to force Americans to buy health insurance or create another subsidy through the redistribution of wealth to satisfy another government mandate.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced his candidacy for the United States Senate on May 20, 2009. He will face fellow Republican and three-term incumbent Senator Bob Bennett in the Republican nominating convention next spring.