Pennsylvania’s economy and budget are headed towards a crisis.
Earlier, I explored a move towards potentially eliminating property taxes that appears good on the surface. However, in practice, it will do nothing but consolidate taxation powers in Harrisburg. Today I want to look at the out of control Healthcare spending that is occurring in PA. It is projected that in 2018, at least 30% of the budget will be pointed at healthcare spending and healthcare entitlements. This type of spending is unsustainable and cannot be allowed to continue.
One cannot speak of healthcare spending without looking at the Affordable Care Act. Its effects in Pennsylvania have been disastrous. Not only has the individual mandate failed to keep healthy people in the market, but it has penalized around 225,000 Pennsylvanians who refused the compulsory mandate. It is estimated that about 80% of those people have household incomes under $50,000. The penalty for not having insurance has become an excessive tax on the poor, as rates have gone up steadily and are expected to go up at least 10% in 2018, with some estimates as high as 35%.
The opiate epidemic also shares a large burden of responsibility.
While I do not intend to cover the entirety of the failed war on drugs in Pennsylvania, this stands as a stark example of why we must begin to approach these problems in new ways. Studies show that for every overdose, a hospital spends between $58,500 and $92,400. This spending has created a strain on smaller counties like Armstrong County, where recent statistics put the drug-related death toll at 43.25 per 100,000 people. That makes this small rural county #2 in the state behind only Philadelphia. If the state is having terrible budgetary issues, imagine the effects this is having on a small county of only 67,052 people.
To begin with, the individual mandate must go. It is a gross slap in the face to all citizens of the United States of America. Pennsylvania needs to take the lead in dismantling government mandated insurance markets. Policymakers should be looking to let the market open, allowing for private solutions that can take the burden off the PA taxpayer.
The Opiate crisis is a little more difficult. There are, however, some private solutions that are worth exploring. One solution worth exploring is an idea started by a business called Groups. Groups is a clinic which, with very minimal staff, offers an alternative to methadone called Suboxone. Suboxone can help people wean themselves off stronger drugs and is less addictive. This entire service can be offered for $65 a week. This is far preferable to overdose deaths. I’m sure that, given time and space, more options can be found.
Pennsylvania’s budget problems must be addressed.
When we pull the blinders off our eyes and allow the private sector to work, we can begin to fix things. For many, this is about more than just taxation, but affordable solutions to life and death problems. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to partisan bickering, political footballs, and government ineptitude. Current healthcare spending is unsustainable and allowing it to continue is not an option.
You can read more by George Mason on Think Liberty here.