Monday, June 09, 2008

The Republican's Hidden Tax Increase: Spectrum, Priority Raise Rates

Spectrum Health is the largest health care provider in West Michigan, owning 9 hospitals and operating 140 service sites. Priority Health, owned by Spectrum, operates one of the area's largest health care insurance plans. Faced with substantial Medicaid and Medicare losses, they will be raising rates this year for those of you who can afford to pay.

Spectrum Health, faced with mounting losses caring for Medicare and Medicaid patients, plans to raise rates at its Butterworth, Blodgett and Helen DeVos Children's hospitals an average of 8 percent in the coming year.

At the same time, Priority Health, the insurer owned by Spectrum, will increase the premiums it charges employers by about 7 percent, Michael Freed, Spectrum's chief financial officer, said Thursday at the hospital system's annual public meeting.

He attributed much of the increase to what he called a "hidden tax" on businesses, since Spectrum makes up the shortfall in Medicare and Medicaid payments by raising rates for other patients.

Remember this when the Republicans cry about "tax increases" this year; they are increasing your bills with their fiscal irresponsibility, they just call it "reform" and hope you won't notice. Our Michigan Senate Republicans propose cutting young adults from Medicaid - did you think the hospital would just absorb that cost? No, they will pass it along to you, as evidenced above. Republicans will claim they are saving money for the state, but what they are really doing is raising rates on business and people who have insurance. That way, they can avoid responsibility, and when you can't afford insurance anymore, well, it's your own damn fault.

Turning to the national level, John McCain has voted to cut, restrict and underfund Medicaid at least seven times, and Medicare a whopping 28 times. His record of slashing health care is long and downright sinister - children, seniors, veterans, no vulnerable America will be left healthy in McCain's world. Get out your checkbook.

Too bad for them, but in the end game, it's really too bad for you. But hey, according to the Republicans, it's just "reform". You can afford to pay for everyone with skyrocketing insurance rates, just don't ever call it "taxes", OK?