Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson Supports the Employer Mandate as a Way to Provide Health Insurance

Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson has weighed in on the health care debate with comments about what he would do on the issue:

"You know, every time a Democrat, it seems, we propose a new [health care] plan, it's more spending or more taxes. I'm not that way...I would have a mandate. I would say every employer...has to have a health care plan. That's how you pay for it."

Well Governor, an employer mandate is a tax and it would be used for more spending. It's just a matter of who you would tax and how much you would tax them.

There are a number of ways we can accomplish universal health care coverage. An employer mandate is one of them. An employer mandate would target the employers who do not provide coverage. The problem is that the vast majority of these employers would like to provide coverage--they just can't afford it. With the average cost of family health insurance at about $11,000 a year, an employer paying the typical 75% of that cost would have an obligation of $8,000.

Governor Richardson, you are suggesting an employer head tax of $8,000.

We do need to move toward universal coverage but we need to do it in a way that spreads these high costs as widely as possible. An employer mandate could be part of that strategy, as it is in Massachusetts, but it has to happen in a way that doesn't put small businesses--where so many new jobs are being created--out of business.

We also need to recognize how much health care does cost and understand that huge burden cannot be sustained by any one of the potential payers--individuals, their employers, or government.

And, once we figure out who is going to pay for it, we need to assure ourselves that we can contain health care costs.

The only thing worse than how much health care costs today is how much it will cost tomorrow if we don't make cost containment a big part of any solution.

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