Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The IRS, Obamacare and Abuse of Political Power: An Issue

There are new controversies surrounding Obamacare now that the IRS is mired in a political scandal. These emerging issues surround federal government control of medical/healthcare rights/information and the abuse of political power. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting insight into the problem:

Even as the politicized tax enforcement scandal expands, the Internal Revenue Service continues to expand its political powers thanks to the Affordable Care Act. A larger government always creates more openings for abuse, as Americans will learn when the IRS starts auditing their health care in addition to their 1040 next year.

Over the last decade or so the tax agency has stretched its portfolio and become an enforcer and decision-maker for government benefits and programs. Three years ago, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who operates within the IRS, presciently noted that ObamaCare is "the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history."


This March the IRS Inspector General reiterated that ObamaCare's 47 major changes to the revenue code "represent the largest set of tax law changes the IRS has had to implement in more than 20 years." Thus the IRS is playing Thelma to the Health and Human Service Department's Louise. The tax agency has requested funding for 1,954 full-time equivalent employees for its Affordable Care Act office in 2014.

Read the entire article HERE 

These are issues that need to be vigorously debated. If a Presidential Administration can use the power of the IRS to harass and malign its political opponents, then what does the IRS and HHS having life and death rights over these same political opponents mean? What if you object to the government's handling of a controversy and the first issue asked is not "how is your health" but "do you belong to the right political party?" This is how life was in the Soviet Union and still is  in totalitarian/oligarchical  nations.  Think this is a hysterical approach? Ask the people harassed by the IRS because they belong to conservative political groups or to pro-Israel groups that didn't follow in-lock-step with the President's view of the Middle East, or taught about the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights (it seems under these criteria my entire family is up the creek without a paddle) and then tell me it can't happen here.

Furthermore, an additional aspect of the controversy appeared yesterday. Apparently the IRS gave private tax information of conservatives to politically left-leaning groups during the Presidential campaign. The powers that be continually tell us that under Obamacare our health documents would be sacrosanct. After the recent revelations about IRS conduct, it is apparent that the inherent potential for abuse dangerously exists.

One of the biggest issues we have dealt with for the boys was making sure that their medical records and their privacy is maintained. We are still dealing with a society that is characterized by a terrible bigotry when it comes to learning and developmental disabilities, as well as a continuing ignorance about mental health issues. The leaking of private health information, by any political operative or "enemy,"  can doom an individual's future without that person even knowing about it.

Think I am being paranoid read this article from FORBES, "The IRS Raids 60 million Personal Healthcare Records." or "IRS faces class action lawsuit over theft of 60 million medical records."

There is a reason why so many of our Founding Fathers were anti-Federalists. The recent revelations of abuse, and potential for abuse, should put a chill into anyone who values their civil, legal privacy right to basically be left alone and be allowed the dignity of making their own healthcare decisions without government intrusion. Furthermore, my post from last year (below) asks some more questions about Obamacare that never have been answered. It seems, as usual in Washington DC, no one cares to tackle the hard questions.


*****

I am not against many of the provisions in Obamacare. I am against the reality of the abuse it can generate. The following post was originally written when the country thought the Supreme Court would overturn Obamacare. Meanwhile, as we all know, the law was upheld, but this does not make the following underlying issues any less poignant.

And no I don't call it the Affordable Care Act. As anyone paying attention will tell you, the reality is that insurance premiums, because of Obamacare, are predicted to rise either 100-400% before full implementation of the law. There is nothing affordable about that.

Repost from June 2012


Overturning all of the Healthcare Bill…yes yes yes, state’s rights, overreach of the federal government..death panels and a preeminent HHS…yes I agree for the most part.

Meanwhile my almost 22-year-old will not be able to buy insurance for himself. He has multiple disabilities and epilepsy. He only goes to school part-time (part-time students cannot buy health insurance). He does not have a job where they offer health insurance. So instead of telling my son he is not growing up quick enough or telling us we didn’t raise him to be an adult, how about Congress actually taking a look at how screwed up the insurance industry is and doing something about it. (By the way, we never asked for government services for him beyond educational rights and do not plan to.)

It is a good thing, especially in today’s economy that 26-year-olds can stay on their parents insurance. It is a good thing that you cannot be denied because of pre-existing conditions..but how about a cap on what the insurance companies can charge you? What good is an offer of an insurance policy if the monthly cost is astronomical?

Do I want government telling me what to do or which doctor to go to? No I do not. But I do not like it when the insurance companies do it either.

Do I want a government social worker deciding my children’s future?…Absolutely not. That is why we never applied for government benefits for our son. (He has been told too often that he cannot do. He has been disrespected too often because of his disability. I will not allow others to decide his future.) But if you think that insurance companies don’t tell you what you can and cannot do for your disabled offspring you are wrong. When insurance won’t pay for a therapy and the support your child's needs, you need to figure out a way to afford it. Most in this world cannot. If you think this isn’t akin to a death panel you are mistaken.

So all of you out there who think overturning the entirely of the HealthCare Law will be some kind of victory, let me tell you it will be a fleeting victory…hopefully Congress will not play any games and pass a new law filled with everything that the average American liked about the HealthCare Law. But I doubt it. In Washington, we the taxpayer does not matter, it is party politics all the time.

Also, some more big question, if I as a taxpayer have to pay for public hospitals and noone can be turned away regardless of ability to pay (a good thing) why shouldn’t people have to carry health insurance? Why do I have to pay for someone else and their lifestyle and their poor decision-making? Why can’t health insurance be affordable for the average person? Why can’t you travel with your health insurance (yes use of the Commerce Clause can be employed to overturn this directive)? Why does some state legislature, who has been lobbied by the insurance industry, get to decide if  a medical procedure is appropriate for your child or not? Why do I have to pay for medical procedures I will never use? Why can’t I pick what I want in my plan instead of being given a fait accompli overarching plan by the insurance company via the state legislature? Somehow I do not think the founding father’s really thought about the healthcare monopoly when they compromised about state versus federal power in the Constitution.

Do I want socialized medicine? I have news for everyone we already have it here in the US in the guise of Medicaid and Medicare. How hard would it be to stretch these programs to include a progressive payment option for those who can’t buy insurance and believe you me, there are plenty who want insurance and keep getting denied (ask any person with a disability.)

What we don’t have is healthcare that keeps the average person in mind. The Constitution was written to ensure that government can not encroach upon our rights. But do we not also have a right not to die, to be treated with respect instead of contempt and to not give up our rights to corporations? I wonder how many in this world carrying on with their libertarian ideals and their holier than though attitudes toward healthcare ever had to decide on food versus medicine/therapy for your child (including adult children)?

Shame on all of you getting ready to open up that bottle of champagne.



Elise