Children’s Mercy, St. Luke’s and UMKC have gotten together to form the Jackson County Institute for Translational Medicine and it’s going to be great. (First off, notice how they put “Jackson County” right in the name, so everybody knows it’s you. That’s great, right?)
The Institute will develop new cures and treatments for all sorts of stuff. (Just what, well, that’s to be determined later. Maybe it’ll cure blindness. Who knows?)
And it’s going to benefit not just Jackson County, but the entire metro area.
It will hire more than 200 new doctors. (Not doctors for treating the sick, but research doctors.) The Hall Family Foundation has committed $75 million to erect a new building to accommodate the Institute. (But, only if this tax bill passes.) Also, it will make Kansas City a national hub for medical innovation. (You know, probably.)
Jackson County, all you gotta do is vote YES next Tuesday, November 5.
YES to having every man, woman and child in your county pay a half cent sales tax on every single thing they buy for the next 20 years, giving approximately $800 million to the afore mentioned hospitals.
And, NO, there’s nothing that says these incoming doctors actually have to live in your county. And, NO, none of the other counties that are benefitting from this plan are being asked to contribute even one dime for this project, even those that may benefit more than you will. And, NO, there’s no plan to structure this tax so that it won’t impact your citizens that are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head.
Isn’t that a great deal?
No, it’s not.
I’m not saying this plan is a complete boondoggle. I do believe its aims are pure and its goals beneficial. And I’m not saying that I don’t support a sales tax increase every now and then to fund civic projects. I’m a good liberal, I’ve voted to increase taxes many times in my voting life. However this plan doesn’t feed the poor or improve our schools or beef up our police or even fix our sewers.
It’s simply a business proposition.
And worst of all, they want Jackson County to pay for it with a regressive tax.
Frankly, I have a hard time asking someone who is struggling with basic financial needs to bankroll the salary of highly paid doctors who are as likely as not are going to take these huge paychecks and settle down with a lot of other doctors in Johnson County.
Typically a plan like this is financed by those who have the money to do so – the drug companies and foundations and the big-dollar donors. But, the Institute asked them for the money and they all said, NO.
Well, according to the Kansas City Star, the Committee for Research, Treatment and Cures did get some of those big-dollar donors to give $1.7 million. But that was just to advertise this tax proposal and insure that they will outspend those who oppose the plan by 4 to 1.
Still sound like a good deal?
Then consider this. They’re asking Jackson County to pass this regressive tax plan literally months before the Affordable Care Act goes into effect. The implementation of Obamacare is going to have an enormously positive impact on hospital finances. Hospital services are going to be used more efficiently and cost-effectively because fewer will be using the hospital for generalized care. With more people carrying insurance, and frequently more comprehensive insurance, there is expected to be significantly less write offs of hospital bills.
Most importantly, how much money would the hospitals make if only Missouri and Kansas would expand Medicaid under the Obamacare plan? According to a report by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), there are over 84,000 uninsured in Jackson County alone. How many of these uninsured leave unpaid hospital bills in their wake? How many never make it to the hospital in the first place because they know they can’t afford the bill? (I know, this isn’t speculative. My brother has a permanently deformed finger because, when we were young, my mother couldn’t afford to take him to the hospital when he broke his finger.)
Just asking, but maybe that $1.7 million might have been put to better use if they had spent it on lobbying our state legislatures to expand Medicaid.
In case you haven’t picked up on it, I’m going to be voting, NO, next Tuesday.
Regressive tax plans hit those on the lowest end of the economic scale the hardest. And it’s the simplest kind of tax to get passed because it has the illusion of fairness.
They know there aren’t many that can raise the money to fight such a tax effectively. Those that are organized to help the poor are usually too busy focusing on food, housing, clothing and medical care to fight a well-financed opponent.
Jackson County residents have a good heart. They typically answer the bell when door-to-door salesmen come by and, more times than not, they buy what they have to sell. But, there’s nothing rude or heartless to occasionally saying, NO, when you don’t want what they’re selling.