MN-GOV : Emmer Wants to Cut Doctor’s Taxes

Tom Emmer’s stump speech is so familiar : “It’s not the time to increase taxes to preserve the growth of government. It’s time to reduce taxes, streamline government and free the entrepreneurial spirit that is in Minnesota to start creating jobs.

Yet, what does he mean ?

Whose taxes will be reduced ?

On Friday, during a debate sponsored by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and the Post-Bulletin, Mr. Emmer stated : “Why don’t we talk about eliminating the sick tax as opposed to trying to take every federal one-size-fits-all solution that is going to put us in a problem in 2014 and 2017“.

Hmmm … the “sick tax” ? Who pays the “sick tax” and is it a Federal Tax … and does it have anything to do with the Federal Government or is it a Minnesota program ? How many jobs would be created if the “sick tax” was eliminated ?

The “sick tax” is the health care provider tax that currently pays for the state-subsidized MinnesotaCare coverage.
So, who pays it ??? You and me whenever we pay for medical care … well, not directly … it’s actually paid by the provider of the medical service.
For example, you go for a dental exam and cleaning … the bill is $100 … the MinnesotaCare fee is $2 … the dental office gets $98 to pay for the salaries of the dental hyginist, the receptionist, the bookkeeper, the operating costs of the office and equipment, etc. and of course for the Dentist (who may have spent a nano-second with you.) (BTW, does your dentist work on Friday’s ? In my area, many offices are closed.)

When many think of taxes, they think of sales tax, income tax and property tax … in fact, the only time I heard anyone talk about the “sick tax” was a New Ulm dentist.
Yet, when Governor Pawlenty did his unallotment, one of the targets was the funds generated by MinnesotaCare … “$6.2 million to the Critical Access Dental Provider Program, which funds clinics that treat low-income and rural patients, as well as those with special needs.”

So, the state collected funds through dentists from us, and then Governor Pawlenty re-directed the monies elsewhere … Why is Mr. Emmer talking about cutting the “sick tax” instead of making sure the tax is spent where it was intended. Statewide, there are currently more than 20,000 emergency room visits for dental care each year … maybe if Governor Pawlenty did not cut funding for the Critical Access Dental Provider Program, then some of these emergency room visits would not be needed.

Ironically, one dental health issue that generated a lot of lobbying was legislation to allow mid-level dental practitioners to provide basic dental treatments formerly provided only by dentists.
Unfortunately, voters do not know where Mr. Emmer stood, since he was excused from a committee meeting that discussed the issue.
Even in March of 2009, long before Governor Pawlenty announced that he would not run again, Mr. Emmer was missing votes.
This legislation will provide dental care to more people at a lower price … targeting low-income people on Medicaid, the elderly in nursing homes, people with physical or developmental disabilities, children in Head Start programs, and rural communities with a dentist shortage. The first dental therapy students are expected to graduate in the spring of 2011.
A good program that should be continued … yet, if the “sick tax” is eliminated, the funding source will be gone.
And when it’s gone, will the dentist reduce his fee by 2%, or will the dentist maintain the current billing rate and just pocket the monies ?

Mr. Emmer, eliminating the “sick tax” will only help the doctors, not the patients.
Tell us how many jobs you think will be created if the “sick tax” is eliminated
… and how many needy citizens will not be served
… and how many of those citizens will eventually end up needing emergency room care
…. thus in the end, eliminating the “sick tax” just increases Doctors compensation while shifting the burden to uncompensated care services that are buried in our healthcare payments.

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