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Should the state raise tobacco taxes in order to expand health care services?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on August 2, 2005

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Photo of Matt Rudd

“No. I think people pay enough tax as it is. I don’t smoke, but they pay enough already.”

Photo of Kristin Chanay

“Yes, because when people smoke, it costs the state more to take care of them. They have to get that money from somewhere.”

Photo of Jeremy Auman

“No. I think they should probably lower it so that smokers aren’t spending all their money on cigarettes. Then they can spend their money on their own health care.”

Photo of James Rayton

“I don’t think they should. They are expensive enough. Instead, they should try to decrease the cost of health care for everyone.”


tell_it_like_it_is 12 years, 10 months ago

Hell no. No more new taxes of any kind! Holy S**t where is it all going to end? My town is talking about a huge property tax increase also. What in the hell do these lawmakers intend to do when they've finally bled all the people dry? Then who are they going to milk dry? I think this country is headed right down the road to a second great depression is what I think. Wages aren't raising. How do they think people can keep up with all of this?

Richard Heckler 12 years, 10 months ago

Yes...absolutely. Then begin to lower costs for everyone through a taxpayer funded single pay system. This would be a huge benefit for small business. As it is all those currently insured are picking up the tab for those who are not through increased costs in charges for care.

Some are saying they are paying more however receiving less in benefits. Some also say premiums are not increasing but benefits are decreasing. Either way equals increased costs. Hospitals and medical clinics need to make it up somewhere. Cancer treatment is not only very painful but expensive as my mother in law is discovering as we speak.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps if thousands cancelled their health insurance simultaneously the health insurance industry would get the message that clients are sick and tired of being gouged. The health care industry is always considered a safe investment on Wall Street...why is that? Health care CEO salaries are just as obscene as most others. Investors likely love their returns. The question becomes what are we supporting? 30% of the cost is for paperwork and the handling of such.

A single pay system could dramatically cut the cost to everyone. This is what Governor Sebelius would like to accomplish.

lunacydetector 12 years, 10 months ago

mr. rayton reminds me of clifford the big red dog.

...but seriously, what the heck happened to the tobacco settlement? why didn't the state put that money in a trust for smokers' healthcare, or better yet, why didn't they set up rehab clinics to get people to stop smoking??

ask any smoker if they had a painless way to stop, would they stop? i bet 90% would say yes. when there is ONLY a 2% success rate to stop smoking an NEVER smoke again forever, it shows a MAJOR problem and the addiction smoking nicotine holds on people.

neopolss 12 years, 10 months ago

Why doesn't healthcare adopt paying for treatment for those to stop smoking? Surely covering the cost of nicotine patches is a better tradeoff than paying for treatment of lung cancer down the road. Many don't quit because the services are not part of their insurance plan. Insurance plans pay for gastric bypass these days, and many weight loss programs. Clearly they see that a healthy individual helps cut costs.

That said, NO to another tax on cigerettes, or anything else for that matter. Must we continue to allow local and federal government to loot the pockets of the tax payers? If all of us treated money the same way as the government did, we would all be living in the streets (of Mass)! Stop giving them money for making mistakes. Force responsibility and budget restraint.

Jayhawk226 12 years, 10 months ago

That would totally be my luck...

...the one time I get interviewed by the LJ-World for an "on-the-street" comment, MY FACE WOULD BE AS BIG AS A BLIMP.

Question is, how long will it be before the LJW interns figure out their mistake and resize the guy's mug?

jonas 12 years, 10 months ago

Although it is perhaps not an appropriate comparison to make in the smoking ban argument, due to it's lack of secondhandability, I think here it fits quite well: should we consider doing the same thing for obesity? Smokers are a popular pariah these days, and so get the brunt of everything where sacrifices are supposed to be made. It's not the only severe health risk out there, and it could be eclipsed soon enough.

As for the rest, I. . . must admit. . . that I (shudder) agree. . . with. . . Lunacydetector. (coughcoughcoughcough)

neopolss 12 years, 10 months ago

Have you had to look at a really fat person? The sight of which can be just as repulsing as smelling secondhand smoke.

This is truly a very mean thing to say. I wonder how many will actually agree with it though.

"Yeah dude, smoking and fat people suck. Long live the smoking ban!"

hottruckinmama 12 years, 10 months ago

tax away kansas. thats what you do best anyhow. i travel most of the lower 48 so i'll just buy my smokes somewhere else.

Redneckgal 12 years, 10 months ago

OMB I'd say LJW owes her some money big time. Poor kid that sucks.

raven 12 years, 10 months ago

I agree with those who think insurance should cover some kind of help to quit smoking. I am a smoker and have tried hard to quit, somehow I always end up back at the Kwik Shop buying a pack of cigs. I know, many of you will say "just don't go buy them" but it is really not that easy.

That poor lady who lost her stuff and her kitten. I think someone definately owes her some $$$. So, when they put an ad like that-can anyone just go "claim" the stuff?

optimist 12 years, 10 months ago

"Single pay system"; just a more politically correct way of describing socialized medical care. Controlled and funded by government, paid for by taxpayers. That's right Merrill is suggesting turning over control of about 15% of our economy to the government to run. The same government that has bankrupted Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

happyone 12 years, 10 months ago

Oh and for the question about taxing cigs answer would be NO. I smoke and have been trying to quit but have been unsuccessful cigs are taxed enough already. I say tax fast food as much as they do cigs and see how long it takes for everyone who doesn't smoke to start complaining. Smokers have been paying our fair share of taxes let the non smokers pay for awhile.

Liberty 12 years, 10 months ago

The health care area is another bubble in the economy that is created on purpose. It allows the price to climb out of most peoples' ability to pay. Then the government says that it needs to step in to provide relief to the people, all the while gaining more control. It is a power grab while supposedly providing relief from high prices (We're doing you a favor while we take power over your health). But then you get the health care that they want to give you or take away from you. Do we want to give them that power over us??? I think not. They can not make the prices for health care better by running it themselves. Have you ever seen anything that the government can do for a better price and with less control? Government control of health care is a big mistake.

Liberty 12 years, 10 months ago

Socialized systems always seem like a good system and a great deal in the beginning. But in the end they all fail and bankrupt the people. A poor system. A system based on Communism. That is why they are called socialist.

NorthLawrenceDude 12 years, 10 months ago

I am with ON The Right, we should tax the fat people. Obesity causes the same or more problems with health than smoking.

That ad things scares me. You put something like that in the paper for a North Lawrence address, and you would have 16 trucks lined up wanting the stuff. LOL Actually, it is a great place to live, but "us hillbillies" live a little different than the rest of Lawrence.

Bob, did I spell everything correctly? (grin)

happyone 12 years, 10 months ago

On the Health Care Issue I think that we should go to some kind of regulated form of care. I have several reasons for this.

1 My step daughter is pregnant, her husband makes too much money for them to get welfare, but they can't afford Health insurance (and now that she's pregnant she has been told she is uninsurable by several companies)

2 Many families with kids (mine included) can't afford to have insurance which means when we're sick we can't go to the Dr.

3 We as a country would be healthier if whenever we were sick we could see a Dr.

4 It seems to work well in other places like Canada. (Ms_Canada give us some input here, please)

5 It would put an end to the frivolous malpractice suits which have driven the prices up to begin with.

Just my opinion :)

Liberty 12 years, 10 months ago

I think we should tax health care people. It will give them incentive to do a better job for less.

Sunlover 12 years, 10 months ago

Good God man! Taxes, taxes, taxes...where the heck does it end?? I'm a nonsmoker, but I know many people who do smoke, and I know that a higher tax isn't about to make them quit! As for a "tax helping to expand healthcare services"? What a crock. I honestly doubt cigarette tax will go to that. I happen to work in healthcare, and I know how over-priced services are. The doctors are making a KILLING. With the prices of health care, health insurance, and prescriptions, we dont need another TAX to help cover medical services. As John Stosell says...GIVE ME A BREAK.

tell_it_like_it_is 12 years, 10 months ago

Heres a thought. Tax those hypocondric people that go running to the doctor every other day with a different sick. I have worked with a couple of them over the years and they have to be running up the cost of insurance a lot.

happyone 12 years, 10 months ago

Ok my understanding is that those that want to raise taxes on cigarettes are against people smoking because of all the harmful effects that they cause via smoking and secondhand smoke.

That being the case then shouldn't the "SIN" Tax also be outragously high on alcohol sales?? Or is it OK to drink until you have alcohol poisoning and die? Is it OK to have a few drinks get in your car and KILL someone with it? I think not, yet where are the high taxes on it?

happyone 12 years, 10 months ago

Ottr--yes there are higher taxes on alcohol but not to the extent as cigarettes

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

AMEN, OB!!! I don't agree with taxing cigarettes. Aren't they LEGAL?! Aren't the cigarette makers legal entities? Next thing you know, we'll be taxing alcohol. Seems to me that the cigarette taxes, like other taxes, will not help our health care expansion because that puts more money into the bottom lines of hospitals that already suck your & my money right out of our pockets the moment we enter that doc's office. The other thing is this helps boost the insurance companies' bottom lines by charging more on health care insurance deductibles. Our health care system is BROKE! It is BROKE because of the RIDICULOUS amounts of money the insurance companies make at your & my expense. If we are going to expand health care, we need INSURANCE REFORM in this country!

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

In my 10:32 post, My question should be this (sorry for the confusion): Aren't cigarettes legal?

Liberty 12 years, 10 months ago

There is high taxes on everything. That means that government is getting too much money and control already. That is the problem. As government grows, so do the problems and taxes.

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

Tom, that is why insurance reform is the ground breaking milestone we MUST achieve if we want better health care coverage for ALL Americans.

wichita_reader 12 years, 10 months ago

As far as the question of the day, no. Smokers are already taxed above and beyond what other legal drug users are taxed (caffeine and prescription drugs come immediately to mind). Legalize cannabis and tax it. Oh, I forgot, illegal drug dealers are already required to buy a drug tax stamp before peddling their vice.

Off topic-I think as a society, we go to the doctor way too much. I think most americans would be healthier people if they just let their bodies' immune systems fight off many of the illnesses for which many people today seek a doctor and a prescription.

wichita_reader 12 years, 10 months ago


I work with a couple of hypochondriacs myself. Sissies, I tell you.

raven 12 years, 10 months ago

w_r: I agree that we go to the Dr. way to much, but here is another problem. I was sick this winter for the first time in a long time, I missed two days of work and then went to the Dr. and got some antibiotics, now probably it would have gone away on its own in about a week. But, I did not have a week, I only have so many sick days. Perhaps if employers offered better benefits on that rare occasion you have a week-long illness people would feel comfortable calling in and taking the time they need to be sick.

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

Part of my plan for insurance reform includes this: If a doctor overcharges, you & I, the patients, pay NOTHING. That means the insurance companies pay US for the overcharge. I also would include the deduction of Insurance company CEOs salaries by half every year something goes wrong with an insurance statement. That is how you reform insurance & save us BILLIONS in health care expenses. Those that are chronically ill, they cost money, but we MUST NOT blame people who are ill constantly. Blame those, like in Tom's situation earlier mentioned, who are RECKLESS in their DISREGARD for you & me when we try to remain healthy in otherwise unhealthy circumstances.

enochville 12 years, 10 months ago

If so many are so angry about the American Health care system (myself included), then why isn't something being done about it? This is one topic that unites the American people regardless of political orientation. I know we have differences of opinion about what to do about it, but I am sure there is a lot of common ground. Let's flood the email boxes of our representatives to urge them to support some major overhaul of our health care system. We have to yell louder than the businesses that make so much money off of wasteful practices and gouge us for huge profits. The system has gotten so large that there is no competition to drive costs down and force companies to be more efficient.

Find your representatives and send them email:

Liberty 12 years, 10 months ago

Let's say that the symptom of insurance practices are the problem. Where do they get their protection to force you to insure your car or control health care prices? From protective laws. Where do laws come from: government control. Bingo! Do the people really control government. In a word, no. Only when enough people get on one subject and insist on it, do they pay attention. So government reform is the one subject that can fix the multitude of problems.

wichita_reader 12 years, 10 months ago

Raven: I feel your pain. I usually get one bad cold and a sinus infection or two a year. I do my best to struggle through it and let my body fight them off, maybe with a little Vitamin C and Zinc supplements, before heading to the doc for the antibios. But you're right, when you're really sick, especially when contagious, it's better to take the time off and let your body recuperate than to tax (buzz word) your body further.

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

Thank you, Liberty. See, in terms of this topic of today, tobacco taxes necessary for health care expansion, you mention government reform. That is key! Now, I am curious as to how government reform could work so that you & I don't pay unnecessarily when our insurance bills come in the mail & a bureaucrat at the insurance company erroneously charges us for something we DID NOT USE! Government reform works, but how that fits into insurance reform, I am now curious more than ever. Tell us more, Liberty. I am interested.

acg 12 years, 10 months ago

There are a lot of ways to help curb the costs of health care in this country. When my stepson had to be hospitalized in April for pneumonia, and we got the itemized bill from LMH, they had charged us $17.00 for children's motrin (to bring down his fever). Now I've bought a bottle or two of children's motrin in my day and I've never paid over $5.00. It's little things like that that cause the costs to be so astronomical. Then when you couple in the fact that those of us that are insured are helping to pick up the slack for those of us who can't afford it, it just gets worse and worse. I wonder how many people go to the ER every year with fake info and skip out on the bills. BTW, my little dude was in the hospital for 1 1/2 days back in April with that bout of pneumonia. Final bill? Almost $6500.00! In answer to today's question, no I don't think they should tax smokers anymore. I think they should start taxing religious organizations. Why should they get 501c protection from any form of tax? Most of them are a sham anyway. Think about how many freaking churches are out there. We could make some serious bank if the bible thumpers had to start putting in their fair share.

Liberty 12 years, 10 months ago

For instance, car insurance. You are forced to buy car insurance. We used to be personally liable (common law) if we decided to not carry insurance. By being able to decline insurance coverage, you could control prices. As it stands now, you will bounce back and forth between insurance companies, because they know you have to have insurance to drive. They keep raising prices because the state says you have to buy insurance. The sky is the limit eventually, because of protection offered to insurance companies by the laws. Health care is similar.

As far as over charges, I suggest you closely monitor your bill and refuse to pay for services that you did not incur.

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

This is good, excellent. Now, 2006 is around the corner. It is time to issue wake-up calls to our legislators starting in TOPEKA! Vote people like Doug Mays out of office & let's bring in rational people like our Governor, who show willingness to LISTEN to you & me! Then, let's get the ball rolling on government & insurance reform measures! Then, our health care system won't improve overnight, but it certainly helps pave the way to where we DON'T RIDICULOUS taxes cigarettes & other items (while the rich get richer) to pay for health care coverage for all AMERICANS!

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, I meant where we DON'T PAY RIDICULOUS taxes. Sorry for the confusion.

NorthLawrenceDude 12 years, 10 months ago

We all need to get some balls with insurance companies. If they send you a denial, APPEAL IT. And keep appealing it, for they will eventually pay it. (from experience) Doctors are crooks too. I went to a 1:00 appt. recently, and at 2:15 finally got called to sit another 20 minutes in the exam room. When the doc finally came in I said "I should BILL YOU for my time, this is rediculous". You should have seen his face, and I think he got the hint. Do they think we can just take off, and not get paid why they are making big bucks? Pisses me off. If you have an appt, you should never have to wait over 10 minutes. My wife is a nurse, and said that doctors here in Lawrence routinely OVER BOOK patients because they know we will wait and NOT COMPLAIN.

Confrontation 12 years, 10 months ago

Happyone: Americans would definitely be healthier with a free healthcare system. Like your family, I make too much to receive free healthcare, but my insurance premiums at work are too high to pay. I don't waste money on a lavish lifestyle, but I can't pay these high premiums. My mother works as a Certified Nurses Aid, which she's been doing for the last 25 years. It is one of the most physically demanding jobs, yet she can't afford her healthcare or to pay for doctor's visits. She makes too much to get free healthcare, although she barely makes enough to pay her basic bills. Here's my mother, taking care of the older adults that we throw away into nursing homes. She's giving them some joy before their deaths (since their families are always absent), yet she can't afford healthcare. My mom has a noble job, yet only with lazy, overpaid office jobs (see your representatives) seem to be getting healthcare.

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

Look, we have serious problems in our health care system. EM, what were you trying to say? WE are all paying a big price for the ineptness of insurance companies, CEOs & bureaucrats. Doctors overpaid? Confrontation, you are right, perhaps, but I guarantee you the more of price we put on our politicians heads, the least likely we will EVER have to pay taxes on a health care system that is already broke. Cigarette taxes DON'T HELP.

happyone 12 years, 10 months ago

Where is Ms_Canada today we could really use her insight on this matter since Canada has a "social" system for healthcare (sorry if I used the wrong terminology)

Confrontation-- there are MANY people like we have mentioned. The problem needs fixed that is for sure. I have complained to our representitives and it does nothing!

raven 12 years, 10 months ago

Happyone: That is not true, it does not do nothing-the problem is we need everyone who is unhappy to write to our representatives. Both in Topeka and DC.

Ms_C has commented on this several times and she says she is extremely happy with thier healthcare system. I think the problem is deeper than our healthcare. The point I was trying to make before is-yes we go to the Dr. too much-however, when you have a limited amount of sick days-one is often choiceless but to go since you can't really take the full time you need to recover. Employers benefits should be better too. I get 5 sick days a year-if I get a bad cold for instance in the Winter and take a week to recover-I can't get sick the rest of the year. So, I would rather and almost have to go to the Dr. before that point just to be safe. Many, many things should be changed. But, it all comes down the money.

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

Happy, then let's expose the weaknesses of the legislators we oppose in 2006. They must be held accountable. Fellow Lawrencians & fellow Kansans, let's stand up to these BUMBS & let us mobilize all of our friends & let's give DOUG MAYS & other legislators like him who have failed us for the last time the pink slip. We don't need them!!! They don't listen, happy, that's for sure. Now's the time to energize our opposition to the wrong that our current Legislature in Topeka committed & let's stand together & get a large turnout in this city & county next year. Rob the poor & give to the rich. FORGET IT! That time is about to expire for the "Intelligent Design folk" in Topeka. All of us here are angry & want change, now's the time to mobilize.

ms_canada 12 years, 10 months ago

Here you go again with health care. Is there any topic that gets discussed more on this board than this. I want to tell you that I am soooo thankful that I don't live in a country with such a ridiculous system as private health care and insurance. Our system is not perfect, by a long shot, but boy oh boy, it certainly gives us fewer worries than your system seems to give you people. I know some posters have said that they would not want a publicly funded system, but your system would scare the h**l out of me and my good man.

rhd99 12 years, 10 months ago

Bow, when the rich rob the poor, THEY need to pay more taxes, they are the ones earning the CASH. Insurance companies are part of this problem. Insurance reform means the insurance companies pay for all the damage THEY caused because of inept bureaucrats. You & I pay taxes for those, especially the insurance companies who OVERBILL us for services we don't use. Cigarette taxes are not viable options. They are a problem.

raven 12 years, 10 months ago

Consumer: I am not sure why kids will be forced to steal. Also, as a smoker I can tell you most people will continue smoking no matter how expensive they become I always told myself I would quit when they got to $X but here I am smoking anyhow and wasting-yes I realize I am wasting my money-and lots of it.

raven 12 years, 10 months ago

Consumer: Yes, I agree. Although I really don't think people are going to quit. I don't know what it will take to get people to quit smoking. I also don't know what we can do to fix our healthcare system. What I do know is there are far too many uninsured people out there and that no one can afford to get sick without health insurance. It is such a sad state of affairs to have people who cannot go to the Dr. so they get worse and worse until they cannot ignore it anymore and then have astronomical bills they cannot pay. Something needs to be done. It makes me sad.

happyone 12 years, 10 months ago

thats right TOM all us smokers are moronic idiots

happyone 12 years, 10 months ago

Tom could you remind me how to budget my money aparently since I smoke I can't do it by myself

tell_it_like_it_is 12 years, 10 months ago

Someone a few weeks ago had a good idea. I think maybe it was bowhunter? Anyway they said to tax churchs. I'm not anti church by no means but I think that might be something worth exploring. Honestly look around at some of these churchs they aren't the little country churchs of our youth..they're more like friggin compounds with huge buildings and acres of lawn. They've got to be making some money somewhere.

raven 12 years, 10 months ago

ottr: Thanks for the encouraging words. :) Your sympathy and support help a lot.

Redneckgal 12 years, 10 months ago

Huh? And a business don't get taxed on what I've paid for my groceries because I've paid income tax on it? That don't make any sense Tom.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 10 months ago

Our tax dollars pay for government employees healthcare at the local,state and federal levels. We pay for federal elected officials and their families for the rest of their lives. So if the state government wants to manage,more or less, medcial care for all Kansans why not do it? Isn't a high dollar healthcare premium a tax on your income? Why not let the Governor do it for less.

Many politicians would say no. Of course the health care industry spends lots of your health care dough on political campaigns, high salaried CEO's and stockholders.

acg 12 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, ask ole Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggart about those not for profit organizations. What a crock!

muffaletta 12 years, 10 months ago

Bowhunter: It's not about overall tax dollars, it's about how they are allocated. I don't like paying taxes anymore than anyone else, but I would feel much better if I thought my tax dollars were going to be helping people instead of funding ridiculous wars and christian organizations.

NorthLawrenceDude 12 years, 10 months ago

We don't need hire taxes, we need state wide gambling. Why let the indians make millions, while we are struggling for school funding, and health care.

It bugs me that someone on welfare ( KS medicaid) has better health coverage than I do. I pay 330 per month, and have a deductible. My scripts are only covered 50%. With medicaid, you have no deductible and 2.00 perscriptions. My neighbor is on medicaid because she is disabled. (although I see her working in her garden every day, but that is another post) However, her husband works at KU and has a good job. She is able to get welfare (medical card) because she filed a "division of assets" with the state.... saying her husband does not pay her bills. WHAT A CROCK. Lets all go on Welfare!

Liberty 12 years, 10 months ago

Taxes have never been paid by churches. That is so the government would not have authority and control over God's church, but rather God does. However the 501c3 churches have violated that trust with God by submitting and lowering themselves to the government to be a corporation under control of the government (for money and favorable tax status). They have struck a bargain with the government to be a corporation that is not taxed as long as they do what the government says to do and say. These churches should have stayed with God where His true people really are, and not opted for the world system and it's money and control.

Luke 16:10-13 "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous money, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

acg 12 years, 10 months ago

Hats off to muffaletta and northlawrencedude. I also wouldn't mind paying taxes if they were used for what they were intended, but they're not. They never are. If the citizens of this nation mishandled their money the way that their gov't does, we'd all be in the poorhouse. And northlawrencedude, I hear you about the welfare. IT makes me wonder why I bust my ass when I know one lady who gets paid big time because she's too fat to work (over 400 lbs) and I know two people who get paid because they're crazy (one girl I know always brags about the good drugs her crazy doc gives her so while you and I are at work, she's at home popping pills and watching Days of Our Lives). I'm tired of funding the fat, lazy, uneducated, unmotivated masses. We need a revolution!

Fangorn 12 years, 10 months ago

Read my lips: no new taxes. And unlike Bush I, I don't trust Democrats enough to cut cutsie deals with them that will only make me look like a chump. H.W. should have told George Mitchell to jump in the Atlantic.

And a resounding NO to socialized medicine. Someone earlier commented that there's "bit of a wait" to receive care under such a system. The wait can be appalling. While waiting, the condition of many patients progresses to the point of irreparable harm or even death. "If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies."

There is no such thing as "free healthcare". Somebody always has to pay for it. acg's $17 motrin paid for someone else's "free" healthcare. This is called "cost-shifting" and takes place all the time.

No one who lacks understanding of the specialized skills and years of hard work it takes to become a doctor should ever be allowed to complain about how much doctors make. And few who actually have understanding of the skills and hard work will ever complain about how much doctors make.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 10 months ago

Medicare/Medicaid is not bankrupt. However GW has the capacity to make it that way.

Suppose the amount of tax dollars shelled out for healthcare were far less money than than the monthly premium,which is a tax cuz you can't live without it, you now pay? Why would that be a bad deal?

Social Security is not bankrupt either. GW might not know what he is talking about...

Social Security is insurance not an investment. SS will be there if/when Wall Sreet goes south. Only the well to do can afford not to have medical insurance or Social Security.

Simply because a single pay system did not work elsewhere does not mean that Gov. Sebelius and Sandy Praeger cannot engineer a system that functions properly.

The insurance companies are not doing such great job and they don't mind taxing your income for more dough. I am shocked so many are in love with insurance companies all the while in many cases charging more for less. I encourage all to read your policies very carefully. What you had may not be there today. Have your co-pays increased etc.? What exactly is covered? Can you understand the jargon? What does the CEO's pay package look like?

Richard Heckler 12 years, 10 months ago

Currently about 64% of insurance comes from public money? What exactly is "single pay insurance"?

enochville 12 years, 10 months ago

For those smokers out there who want to quit, but have had problems quitting, I know of a program that makes it much easier for you to quit.

BTW, here is how our representatives voted on some recent health care issues:

"Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2005 - Vote Passed (263-165, 5 Not Voting)

This House bill would allow small businesses to band together to purchase health insurance.

Rep. Dennis Moore voted NO"

"HEALTH Act of 2005 - Vote Passed (230-194, 2 Present, 7 Not Voting)

This medical malpractice reform bill would limit non-economic damages, or "pain and suffering" damages, in malpractice lawsuits to $250,000.

Rep. Dennis Moore voted NO"

I don't have an opinion about it; I just thought I'd let you know.

ms_canada 12 years, 10 months ago

cigarettes in my country are very heavily taxed. I was curious so I just phoned a tobaconist and was told that a pack of 25 cigs costs from $7.85 to $10.50 depending on brand. most of that is tax. I know the tax is raised every once in a while and there is a lot of squacking but it all dies down after a while until the next hike. Sure glad I quit that goofy habit many years ago.

Jayhawk226 12 years, 10 months ago

A pack of cigs cost nearly $6 in Chicago and nearly $9 in NYC.

Those idiots keep buying them either way...there is no harm to me to tax them, particularly if it generates more money.

The cost of living in KS is so damn cheap, an extra dollar or two on a pack of cigs shouldn't be a problem at all.

Just pay up and shut up.

Ceallach 12 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the info ms_canada: $7.85 - $10.50 now that is high! Sounds more like a luxury tax than a sin tax. At those prices smoking a cig would be a true luxury. However, I doubt that it would deter some smokers. It obviously doesn't deter them in Canada. I see people at checkout stands all the time (with dirty, raggy dressed, uncombed children in tow) buying cigs and beer. They pay those prices while their kids do without, they're not going to stop smoking regardless of the cost.

More taxes, I vote no. We never try to resolve or overcome problems in this country we just raise taxes. Whatever the issue may be there are always those who think raising taxes will solve everything.

donsalsbury 12 years, 10 months ago

Only problem with raising cigarette taxes is that smokers who don't quit end up buying themselves broke. I know plenty of people on Medicaid who can't wait for their Social Security check to come in so they can buy up their monthly supply of cancer sticks. How's that for scary??

What would happen if this country suddenly outlawed all health insurance? I submit that pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers would suddenly find themselves without a market at their current prices. They'd go to a sliding scale, I reckon, if they want to keep people coming through the door. I don't think doctor's offices would be as crowded if everyone had to pay for service. Service would be better, too, because of competition. The question is, this scenario would bring the economy crashing down so fast the Wall Street computers wouldn't be able to crunch the numbers fast enough...

ms_canada 12 years, 10 months ago

Did you all read the rather lengthy article on the site posted by fangorn. it is very good and I think gives a most accurate picture of the debate going on in my country about our health care system. I can only give you the opinion of my husband and myself. We are very satisfied with it and there are others who are very definitely not. That's how it is everywhere. All US citizens are not happy with your system either, true? And more money poured into the system is not the answer, IMHO. Something needs to be done about all those people who don't look after themselves, eat wrong, yes smoke, drink too much. What can be done? Maybe taking care of yourself needs to be legislated. tough talk, yes I guess so, or perhaps education. More teaching in schools about good nutrition. ?????????? Get those bloody pop and chip machines out of school hallways. Put in milk and juice machines. Enough said

Fishman 12 years, 10 months ago

To Tom Foolery. I have to agree about First Med. That woman in there is ONLY worried about money. I'm not surprised that they double billed for your visit one bit! That woman is a nightmare, and will eventually put an end to Dr. Burt. She was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO rude to me, I couln't believe it! Too bad, as Dr. Burt really isn't a bad guy. I for one will never use their services again!!! I also know I'm not the only one that feels this way about First Med.

Fangorn 12 years, 10 months ago

I've been going to First Med for 9 years. Dr. Burt has been my primary care provider that whole time. I've always been happy with the care I receive, and I've never had a problem with insurance billing (and believe me, I pay attention to it). I will say that I've waited a considerable time to see my doctor a few times. Taking walk-ins will slow things down at times. But being a walk-in myself occasionally, I don't mind it so much. Now I only need a doctor one or two times a year, so others may have more extensive experience with First Med than I do.

What exactly is "public money"? I'll tell you. It is taxpayers' money. The government has not one bloody penny truly to call its own. Everything it has, it first takes from those who work and pay taxes. The government doesn't really ever pay for anything. You, the wage-earner, do. Remember that the next time you're told that something is paid for with "public" money.

Over any 20-year period, the stock market has never returned poorer than 7%. That includes any period covering the 1929 Crash. The ponzi scheme we call Social "Security" historically returns about 1-2%...if you live long enough. Die early (like my father) and everything you worked hard to earn your entire life is flushed down the toilet. Bush's ownership plan would have allowed Dad to pass his earnings on to Mom. The current system is a fraud perpetuated by politicians who excel at buying votes with other people's money, a skill fully mastered by both sides of the aisle I might add.

Fangorn 12 years, 10 months ago

btw, I see the meth lab is still hiring.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 10 months ago

Fangorn, Public money is tax dollars. No deception there. Also SS is insurance whereas Wall Street is a risky investment for those who cannot afford to lose money. If you read the article closely Wall Sreet is not guaranteed and investors have lost money during certain periods. SS is apples Wall Street is broccoli.

To avoid filling in and requesting payment from dozens of insurance companies (which requires the hiring of many extra personnel by medical providers,) all payments would be handled by one institution, and there would be one standard insurnace form used. All companies have different plans,provisions, etc, payments, etc. Most people who are working toward health care for all believe this "one party" would be the government (as in Medicare, which is efficient). Because some people interpet this as "socialized medicine" (which it is not) the one party term has been adopted, you might say euphemistically to make it more palatable. The point is that so much money is absorbed by the insurance companies (this is where they make their money), in administrative costs, that health insurance is astronomical It is not the actual cost of the care. Also, medical providers must pay many extra salaries to hire personnel for all this paper work for so many different companies.

Fangorn 12 years, 10 months ago

Merrill: I will agree with you that too much money is absorbed in paperwork and administrative costs. I disagree with you about Medicare. You are the first person I have ever heard (well...."read", actually) call it efficient.

Social Security is NOT insurance. You buy insurance, you die young, your beneficiaries get the value of our policy. You pay into SS your entire life, you die young, your family gets zilch, zero, zip, nothing, nada.

Yes, investors can loose money on Wall Street. You buy volitile stocks, you run a high risk. Buying mutual funds greatly diversifies that risk and keeps it very minimal. A single company can go belly up, sending its stock value to zero. But the dozens of companies' stocks that comprise a mutual fund will not all crash at the same time. And fund managers tend to stay away from risky companies. Even a beginning investor who buys a few low risk funds will be able to get a better return than SS over the long haul. Investing for retirement is done over decades, not 5-10 years. And even if an investor's chosen funds do poorly, he or she still owns them and can leave what value they have to their heirs. Die too early, and everything you paid into SS, including your employer's matching "contribution" (i.e. tax), goes to the government black hole. It is Social "Security" that is risky.

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