Opinion
October 30, 2014

Shumlin won’t tell us what it will cost until after the election

Dear Editor,
The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) and Vermont Health Connect (a.k.a. Shumlincare) are weakening the economy and over time both will become less affordable. Both plans help specific groups by giving them a greater slice of the economic pie. But the law reduces the pie itself by reducing the amount that Americans work. The result of penalizing businesses for hiring and expanding is going to be less hiring and expanding. By reducing the amount of hours worked to below 30 hours per week, the law allows employers to avoid the federal mandates and its penalties and helps employees to qualify for individual assistance.
It is well known that few small businesses plan to expand and hiring is mostly flat in the U.S. economy for the 11th straight month according to NFI8. It will be weaker ahead. Rising healthcare costs, the minimum wage and more red tape are damaging the outlook for job creation. Businesses see healthcare premiums surging. Some business will face a $2,000 fine per worker per year if company employees are not signed up by Feb. 15, 2015.
Then we have the minimum wage, which is about to go up in Vermont. Who wants to hire?
What occurred in 1997 when Vermont enacted Act 60 and Act 68 we were told that such a law would equalize education throughout the State. But what about the outcomes for the students? Are they any smarter? The State has lost more than 25,000 students while the costs have risen from $600 million to $1.4 billion. Property taxes have risen and parents have moved away from Vermont!
My point on this whole matter tells me that government has become too intrusive in our daily lives and it will reduce the number of working people. Think about this whole situation. If you were to start a new business from scratch like Shumlincare by making a new product(widget), why would you not look at what it will cost? Vermonters will not know the cost until January 2015 after Shumlin has signed up all these uninsured residents. Then when we see that it will cost $2.4 billion in the beginning, it will accelerate to larger numbers in the following years just like Act 60/68; however, unlike the Education Tax, the State will not have out-of-state property owners to foot the bill.
Medicade, unlike Medicare, does not require people to pay into the system over their working years. It is a handout using Federal and State assistance. Once the system is set up it will take more dollars out of the pockets of Vermonters and higher deductibles moving forward but there will be fewer people in the State to pay for it. The Governor needs to show me, NOW, how he will pay for such a crazy plan. Going into business with a legislature of experts will put Vermont’s economy into fewer workers, fewer kids in school, more kids moving out of State, more parents moving out of State.
The average number of employed Vermonters is 2,800 BELOW 2008/9. Wage growth grew at 2.4 percent. The 2013 budget passed increased spending 6.4 percent from $4.716 billion to $5.019 billion. Some of this increase was federal funds, but state taxes, fees and other state revenues increased by 4.8 percent or $97.7 million. Also, in 2013, net education spending increased by $36.8 million causing property taxes to rise. Property taxes will rise by another 4-5 percent in 2015 according to the State.
As I said above. if you think Act 60/68 costs a lot of money ($l.4 billion), wait until you find out what Shumlincare will cost ($2.4 billion). Hospitals will need to raise revenues or reduce costs and doctors will find out how little goes into their pockets. Fewer doctors and more patients (paid for by Federal and State taxes) and more government control is not a good plan to follow for sure. The November 4th election vote will ONLY encourage our legislators to find new ways to tax and spend.
Edwin J. Fowler, Killington

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