Nov. 25, 2009: Health care reform is beneficial
To The Editor:
Health benefits are “welfare benefit plans” under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA. Unlike pension benefits, welfare benefit plans can be reduced or terminated prospectively by an employer. There is no vesting. Apart from certain government plans and certain government employees whose benefits are protected by state constitutions, all persons who currently have health benefits could lose them tomorrow. The playing field is pretty level for everyone.
Understanding the thin ice that we are all on, why wouldn’t everyone want a guarantee of at least a certain level of benefits?
A guaranteed level of health benefits funded by government has another positive and unavoidable result. If the government has to pay the tab for our health, it eventually (if slowly) will want to take a larger protective and preventative role in the health of our citizens. There is a wonderful symmetry in this as the government has the power and the process to implement policy, regulations and laws to protect our health. There would be an incentive to not only address illness and symptoms but also the underlying causes of disease. Apart from lawsuits, the government alone has the power to pass regulations and laws that protect our environment and make sure that harmful additives are not in our food, water, air and the products we purchase.
Money spent by the government on health care can be very effective stimulus. Personally, for my family and loved ones I would rather see a medical industrial complex than a military industrial complex.
Victoria Quesada, Esq.