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.



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