However, as long as those that nonetheless will not purchase insurance coverage are going to must pay the piper, you’d a minimum of hope that the monies they contribute to the state’s coffers would go to some good trigger.
As a substitute, a brand new investigation by nonprofit Kaiser Well being Information has uncovered, after three years, “the state has not distributed any of the income it has collected.”
And, the journalists report, as anticipated, “to date, the vast majority of Californians paying the tax penalty for not having insurance coverage are low- and middle-income earners, based on state tax officers — simply the individuals the cash was supposed to assist. ”
“It is regarding,” says Diana Douglas, a lobbyist with Well being Entry California, who advocated for the mandate. “The entire thought was if we’ll gather cash from individuals who cannot afford protection, to make use of that income to assist individuals afford it and really get care. It is not truthful to individuals who cannot afford it.”
We’re not speaking about small quantities of cash right here, both. State officers have estimated that within the 2020-2022 opening interval, about $1.3 billion in fines would have been collected.
However Gov. Gavin Newsom argues that moderately than spending the cash within the right here and now, the state ought to maintain onto it in case Californians need assistance paying for medical health insurance sooner or later.
“The current downturn in state tax revenues highlights the significance of getting these funds put aside,” Newsom spokesperson Alex Stack mentioned.
Governor, Californians in want are in want proper now — with inflation skyrocketing, with medical health insurance prices estimated to go up 5.6% this yr.
It is by some means particularly galling to carry again the monies just because an govt department and a legislature with a penchant for large spending is out of the blue having to tighten its belt as a result of their reliance on earnings tax from tech millionaires and billionaires is more likely to drop given the potential for recession and the massive hits which were delivered to Silicon Valley inventory costs, together with the layoffs throughout that whole sector right here and within the Bay Space.
“A invoice this yr by state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who’s leaving workplace due to time period limits, sought to funnel state penalty cash into Lined California to scale back out-of-pocket prices for some shoppers, together with scrapping their deductibles . However Newsom vetoed the invoice, arguing that the cash could possibly be wanted in future years to reinstate the state-based subsidies,” KHN studies.
“Having insurance coverage doesn’t suggest something if you cannot afford the deductible, and that is an enormous barrier for individuals with persistent ailments who’ve very excessive healthcare prices,” Pan mentioned. “Individuals nonetheless cannot afford to go to the physician.”
With Pan quickly gone, one other legislator ought to instantly take up the trigger in the course of the subsequent session. There’s merely no motive to see these medically based mostly fines going into the state’s basic fund when Californians need assistance with medical insurance coverage prices proper now. Sacramento ought to both make correct use of the tremendous or eliminate it completely.
Los Angeles Each day Information