Commentary – Gratifying economicsThere is a magical lure when someone hears a politician shout they will not increase taxes. We see more money in our pockets and more bills being paid.
By Renee Iverson, team leader, Region IV South Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Team, Alexandria, MN
There is a magical lure when someone hears a politician shout they will not increase taxes. We see more money in our pockets and more bills being paid. However, many times there is a half-truth instant gratification element to the promise.
In this case it comes in the form of saving money at the cost of our health care system. Our governor has proposed tax cuts that would result in 84,000 Minnesotans losing health care coverage (not to mention the dental issue, but I will not even go there in this letter). We see those individuals losing health care and we forget that these numbers would be a lot different if we had to individually list the name of every person who will lost the ability to seek medical care.
Setting aside the utter inhumanity of this, we forget about the long term economic effects this will have. Because someone is without medical coverage does not mean that their medical issues magically go away. This will mean a loss for clinics, because these individuals with outstanding bills and an inability to pay will not be able to attain an appointment at a clinic.
These individuals will end up attaining services through the emergency rooms throughout the state, because this will be their only option. Additionally, these will most likely not be small medical emergencies, but large expensive ones because many times these individuals will assume they can just “wait it out,” rather than seeking medical attention.
The result of individuals being forced into emergency rooms rather than seeking medical attention at a clinic where it would be cheaper will also have an economic impact on the hospitals throughout the state. There will be millions of dollars in unpaid hospital bills in Minnesota, making it difficult for hospitals that may be struggling already. They will be forced to increase rates (which insurance companies may or may not pay) or, worst-case scenario, shut their hospital doors forever.
A proposed solution to this is a tax on clothing, which would not only make up for this gap, it would help ensure that thousands of programs around the state that actually save taxpayers money would continue to operate in that capacity, in order to ensure we do not dig ourselves a bigger hole. Haven’t we had enough of instant gratification economics? Isn’t it the “buy now, pay later” attitude that got us into this mess in the first place? Not taking care of this now is exactly like that. It is maintaining what we already have in order to preserve our state for years to come.