An elephant isn't a suitcase

October 17, 2013

Manchester Journal

To the Editor:

Ron Roper's column ("A Premium is not a Tax," Nov. 10), makes a case against publicly funded universal health care by emphasizing the differences between a health insurance premium and a tax.

He says that universal care will be "Creating a government monopoly funded by a payroll tax on job creators - criminalizing them if they can't keep up." That sure sounds scary, but if you think about it: (1) that's exactly what Social Security and Medicare do; and (2) that's what unemployment and disability taxes do at the state level.

On top of that, Mr. Roper is assuming what the funding mechanism will be for our universal care system; that has yet to be decided.

Mr. Roper's opposition to a publicly funded universal care program is understandable - he is the President of the Ethan Allen Institute (EAI), an organization philosophically devoted to the free market and hostile to almost all kinds of government involvement. Which leads me to a major question: given how long our current health care system has been broken, why have you not formulated your own idea of how to fix the health care system? In fact, why is it only recently that you have even begun acknowledging that the current system is horribly broken? His column is big on generalities ("We need to find ways to provide those who can't afford care with the services they need") and very light on specifics.

How do we provide in order to alleviate the very specific misery inflicted on many, many people by our current broken system? And that misery needs to be alleviated if we want to continue to consider ourselves a civilized society.

No, a premium is not a tax. Nor is an elephant a suitcase. Neither statement is a reason to delay fixing a fundamental human problem, especially when the proposed fix has long been successfully employed elsewhere in the world.

Lee Russ