Is Asking Residents to Pay for a Medical School Moral?

(Community Matters) I’ve had an interesting online exchange with an acquaintance who resents the extra $25, $50 and $100 in taxes for most Travis County residents to establish a UT medical school in Austin. He notes that this is in addition to taxes for Obamacare. The guy is a good guy – a creator of jobs and a socially engaged citizen. The exchange is in response to my earlier posting supporting the Healtcare District 5 cents tax increase. Thought I’d share the exchange:

Friend: With all due respect, how much will we have to pay in taxes in order to have a healthy population in Central Texas? I thought Obamacare’s new taxes were supposed to cover expanding health care to uninsured citizens? Why do property owners have to continue to get fleeced? What am I missing here? When does it end?

Eugene Sepulveda [friend], good question. On a home of $200,000 we’re talking about $100 per year for thousands of new jobs, a medical complex and capabilities a city of our size should have had years ago, and better healthcare for everyone – those who can and who cannot afford to pay. What new taxes for Obamacare are you referring to? And, I’m afraid some of those arguing against $25, $50 or $100/year are the same ones working to kill Obamacare.
Friend: I appreciate the perspective, but don’t believe it’s moral for anyone to judge what other citizens can and cannot afford. It’s unimaginable to me that nobody is paying any attention to the new taxes imposed by the ACA, the most significant of which is the 3.8% surtax on investment income. Here’s a list of all the new ways our elected political heroes have decided to pick our pockets: http://jeffduncan.house.gov/full-list-obamacare-tax-hikes.

And by the way, the sales pitch for the Travis County Hospital District at inception was the same: “it’s only a few dollars for every $100 in home value” and we must have it because our health care system is broken. I expected the Travis County Hospital District to be dissolved after the passage of the ACA. I was shocked that taxes would increase by 63% – I mean who gets a 63% increase in anything these days especially after all the other new taxes covering the same things?

Eugene Sepulveda I appreciate the perspective, [friend]. And, we might have different notions of morality. I’d reserve that concept for how we treat the less fortunate, rather than if we ask rich people to pay a little bit more in taxes.

From my perspective, it’s immoral to live in a country of our privilege and for any citizen to go hungry, without primary medical care (including preventative), without access to a decent school for their kids, or without some sort of shelter. I’m not talking about cadillac services but at least a compassionate level.

And, we both know percentages are misleading, we’re talking about a 5 cents per $100 valuation. As to HCR taxes, new taxes for healthcare hardly touch the middle class. The increase for average households making over $200k is less than 1%. Come on, we’ve reduced taxes on ourselves by an large amount more than this just during the last 12 years – by a gargantuan amount since Reagan. Not to mention how we all but shelter income for hedge fund managers, real estate developers/investors and lots of others by calling their earnings “carried interests.” That’s why many of our friends only pay 13% or less on their earnings while teachers, policemen, firefighters and day care workers pay more.

To clarify, are you supporting Obamacare but this is just too much? I know we support different candidates – you a major donor to Gov. Rick Perry, me to Pres Obama, yet I know we both care about our communities and its citizens. I’m sorry you see this as insidious. I just don’t.

One response to “Is Asking Residents to Pay for a Medical School Moral?

  1. Tangentially related (healthcare), Harvard Business Review has a blog post called “Quality Health Care at 3% of the Cost” http://bit.ly/Ti1CAm about innovation from India. Nobody is saying the US wants India’s health care system, but if we could drop the arrogance of “we have the greatest healthcare system in the world!” we could maybe learn some lessons, even from poor countries.

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