Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hospital “bed tax” is bad medicine

The state of Georgia is facing the worse budget crisis in recent memory, but new taxes and tax increases will not provide long-term solutions. I oppose HB 307 and any and all efforts to pass a health provider tax or “bed-tax.” This bill raises taxes on health care providers and increases the cost of health insurance policies providing limited short-term relief without addressing the larger issue of rapidly rising health care costs and a dysfunctional federal Medicaid matching fund system.

HB 307 adds a 1.6% tax on insurance plans and hospital revenues, and creates long-term problems by further suppressing our economy and increasing healthcare and insurance costs that ultimately provide support for President Obama’s case for an unpopular government takeover of healthcare. Further, HB 307 allows a portion of the new revenues generated to flow into the General Fund and though targeted for a specific use; we know previous bills have failed to successfully target General Fund expenditures as required – i.e. fuel tax, cell phone tax, tire disposal fees.

HB 307 is promoted as a tool to bring additional federal dollars to Georgia for a Medicaid program that fund only about 84% of the true cost of care. As an administrator with the Gwinnett County Hospital System said recently, “You can’t make that up on volume.” Seeking additional federal money to fund a broken program is not the solution and taxing profitable private providers to fund bankrupt government programs is the classic example of government gone wild.

Our goal should be to encourage all Georgian’s to have health insurance coverage and to increase the number of health care providers practicing in Georgia – this bill does neither. We should oppose tax increases as well as short-term band-aids to meet the budget shortfall and embrace innovative, creative, and common-sense long-term solutions.

Join me in opposition to HB 307. I am confident the voters of Georgia will appreciate and reward candidates who govern in a fiscally sound and conservative manner.

Brett Harrell is a candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives District 106 that includes the City of Snellville and unincorporated portions of Grayson, Centerville, and Lilburn.



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My home is my castle and I need a wider moat because government is scaling the walls.

Increasing burdens of taxation and dramatic expansion in regulation have become the most common tool of government to restrict, and in some cases eliminate, our Constitutional Rights to Liberty and Private Property. More recently, governments have expanded into areas of storm water and solid waste regulation and instituted fees [read taxes] as the means to restrict those rights. Most egregiously, these fees are levied via our property tax bill thus creating a situation that, at the extreme, may result in the forcible taking of one’s home and property.

Some politicians will tell you they’ve never raised taxes, yet these same politicians instituted a new “fee” system that resulted in a single-year, non-deductible 15% increase in the average Snellville property tax bill [see illustrative tax bill below]. Additionally, by including the non-deductible fee, without explanation, on the property tax bill, they have increased the possibility of the filing of thousands of incorrect income tax returns – an IRS auditor’s dream – that, although rarely, may result in significant fines and forfeitures. Further, they did so without consideration of the potential impact to your mortgage payment and escrow account.

Some of these same politicians claim to be defenders of your private property rights, yet by including these new regulatory fees on your property tax bill they have, in actuality, expanded the ability of the government to seize your home and property. Again, at the extreme, should you own your home free and clear, yet fail to make full payment – including amounts for disputed storm water and/or solid waste services – the local Tax Commissioner will consider your entire property tax bill delinquent and subject to foreclosure, forfeiture, and forcible government taking.

That’s why we need to build a wider moat around our castles. While I favor a wholesale and comprehensive review of all taxes in Georgia, in the meantime, I propose that property taxes and only property taxes be included on my property tax bill. Radical, I know, but, if government is to attempt to storm my castle, at least attack during the light of day, rather than tunneling under in the cover of darkness by attaching non-tax fees to my tax bill.

Click to view a 2009 Snellville Property Tax bill