But look for cash-strapped legislatures across the country to consider this latest tactic to feed from the Medicare National Bank: in Colorado, held to lower taxes by their self-imposed "Tax Payers Bill of Rights" (or so-called TABOR law enacted in 1992), legislatures have resorted to a "sick tax" cleverly disguised as a hospital fee added without line-item status to hospital bills:
The state House has passed HB 1293, a tax on sick people. The bill directs hospitals to add a “fee” of up to 5.5 percent on every patient’s bill, keeps the fee secret by prohibiting hospitals from listing it separately, and reimburses hospitals on the basis of what they say their costs are.As Linda Goreman, director of the Health Care Policy Center for the Independence Institute, a Golden-based libertarian think tank points out (pdf):
Those supporting HB 1293 pretend that this is a fee on hospitals. They say hospitals will pay this fee, something that can be true only if hospitals have large pots of surplus funds lying around.
The ultimate irony in all this is that HB 1293’s sponsors upped the ante on their language perversion by claiming that the magic fee that increases the cost of private sector health care to the tune of $600,000,000 a year “makes health care more affordable.” They even named HB 1293 the “Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act.” For this legislature, bigger government and higher fees translates into more affordable living both for it and for its big business friends.Hey, if they can do it to our cable and phone bills, why not hospital bills, too?
If it gets rewarded for its tax into fee prestidigitation and its “affordability” act, voters should expect the future to bring such affordability measures as income taxes transmuted into job privilege fees, increased sales taxes transmuted into transactions fees, and constitutional protections transmuted into therapeutic suggestions.
All in the name of making health care more "affordable."
h/t: Walter Olson, editor, Point of Law.