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Nation following state's lead with mandates (Romneycare goes national)
The Sun Chronicle, Attleboro, Mass. ^ | 2009-12-26 | Sopan Deb

Posted on 12/26/2009 7:21:18 PM PST by rabscuttle385

As haggling between House and Senate versions of national health care reform gets under way in Washington, Massachusetts residents may be feeling a bit of dejà vu.

The insurance mandates and cost controls being negotiated on Capitol Hill are the same polarizing issues that echoed in Beacon Hill chambers three years ago.

In 2006, then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed the nation's most ambitious and complex health reform initiative with the goal of providing universal health care coverage to all Massachusetts residents.

Like the bill taking shape in Congress, the state's health legislation required all residents to obtain health insurance or face a fine.

But the Massachusetts law takes the issue further, fostering insurance programs for people without access to employer-sponsored health insurance and creating Commonwealth Care, a publicly subsidized insurance program for low-income residents. At the time the bill was passed, approximately 550,000 residents were uninsured in Massachusetts. Now, that number is down to 167,000, or about 2.6 percent of the population, the lowest in the country. The national average is about 15 percent.

Three years later, assessing the bill's success depends on whom you ask.

According to a study by the Urban Institute, a Washington-based, non-partisan think tank, the Massachusetts initiative "accomplished much of what it set out to do: Nearly all adults in the state have health insurance."

When Gov. Deval Patrick released findings last year saying that 97.4 percent of state residents were insured, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy declared the state plan a road map for a national solution.

"The reform's success shows that when people from all perspectives come together, we can solve our health care challenges," he said in a statement. "We need to take the same approach in Washington. To those who say these challenges can't be met, I say, 'Look at Massachusetts.' "

The law has its critics, as well, mostly stemming from claims that the bill is an example of rampant government spending with a much higher price tag than initially expected.

"In fact, the only thing inexpensive about Massachusetts' health care bill is that there, you can get a $50 abortion," said former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in a September speech at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.

Critics point to the fact that in August, Patrick cut state-subsidized health insurance plans that benefited 31,000 legal immigrants, including dental and skilled-nursing care. The cuts were made to help close a budget deficit that could reach billions of dollars.

Whether the bill is actually too expensive has been a point of much debate.

According to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF), the first year of the law cost taxpayers $1.04 billion; the second year, 2007, saw the price tag jump to $1.3 billion. For 2008, the burden escalated to about $1.69 billion. The estimated cost for the 2009 fiscal year is predicted to be $1.89 billion. The costs are a sum of funding Commonwealth Care, the Uncompensated Care Pool, federal payments to Medicaid and expansions to MassHealth (the state's Medicaid program) and safety net payments to hospitals.

Half of the cost - about 50 percent of Medicaid costs - are paid by the federal government.

Proponents say the law is not to blame for the increases, but rather the rising health care costs around the country and a deep recession. But some say Romney's claim that the bill would bring down costs was unrealistic.

"Romney might've said it, but that doesn't mean anyone else thought it," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "It's not reasonable to ever have assumed that the legislation would reduce costs. It was about greater access. It was widely understood at the time that this was chapter one. In chapter two, we would have to address costs"

Costs associated with the law rose in part because of the recession. Rising unemployment meant many people lost their health insurance and enrolled in the state-subsidized Commonwealth Care.

According to surveys conducted by the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, 165,000 people enrolled in Commonwealth Care over the law's three-year period. The increasing number of those covered has increased state costs; so have incremental increases in the costs of the policies.

Widmer said that his foundation found that employee-sponsored health insurance has grown by 100,000 since 2006, even though more people have found themselves out of work.

But critics say the state law has failed to tackle the bigger issue facing the state and the nation - soaring health care costs.

"Improving access to health care coverage has been a clear emphasis of the reform," said Debra Draper, of the non-partisan Center for Studying Health System Change based in Washington D.C. "But little has been done to address rapidly rising health care costs, raising questions about the longer-term viability of the reform."

Alwin Cassil, a spokesperson for the center, says the Massachusetts law has not immunized the state from the national problem. "In fact, their problem may be magnified because they have been so successful in expanding coverage to previously uninsured people," Cassil said.

Cassil said that the problems with the commonwealth's system are due to both the lack of cost controls and the collapse of tax revenues. To say otherwise, she said, would be "misleading."

But Cyndi Roy, communications director at Executive Office for Administration and Finance, says the steady march of health care costs has been a problem that predates the state's reform efforts.

"It's not a question of whether the health reform can continue as the 2006 law. The question is whether we can continue to spend what we spend on health care, and the answer is no," she said

One cost-saving benefit of Massachusetts' plan was supposed to come from moving non-urgent care from costly hospital emergency rooms to less expensive doctor's offices. Before 2006, many uninsured would receive care for routine ailments in emergency rooms; they had no doctors to turn to.

A bulk of the emergency room costs were paid by taxpayers through state reimbursement of hospital costs. Uninsured patients, in essence, were receiving state-paid care from emergency rooms.

Those patients, now insured, were supposed to get care from personal physicians.

However, according to state data, visits to emergency rooms increased 7 percent from 2005 to 2007 with the costs of treating those patients jumping $147 million. Of those emergency room visits, only 53 percent required immediate treatment, a rate similar to that before the reform.

Some physicians say the problem is a lack of primary care doctors who were suppose to be the alternative to emergency rooms. Until that problem is fixed, providing health insurance to the uninsured will not bring down emergency room costs.

Several initiatives have been suggested to fix the problem - from tuition programs to create more primary care doctors to a payment schedule based on patient outcomes rather than fee for service. But few are hopeful that any of these plans will have an immediate impact on health care costs.

Widmer's group estimates health care costs will increase by about $200 million per year as more state residents enroll in Commonwealth Care.

"You can't require people to get insurance who can't afford it," Widmer said. "The cost of the (Commonwealth Care) subsidy will go up, just as the cost of health insurance goes up each year. That group is not immune to inflationary medical costs anymore than anyone else is."

This report was prepared for The Sun Chronicle by the Boston University Statehouse Program.

TOPICS: Front Page News; Government; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: admiralromney; deathcare; generalromney; healthcare; hillarycare; imposerromney; kingromney; mythicalromney; mythromney; obama4romney; obamacare; rino; rinocare; romney; romney2lose; romney4dnc; romney4obama; romney4romney; romneybringsdeath; romneybringshate; romneycare; romneydeathpanel; romneymedicine; romneysrinoparty; socializedmedicine; stenchofromney; tyrantromney

1 posted on 12/26/2009 7:21:23 PM PST by rabscuttle385
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To: Diogenesis


2 posted on 12/26/2009 7:22:24 PM PST by rabscuttle385 (Purge the RINOs! *
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To: rabscuttle385

Wow...maybe this entire health care debate has all been a dream and I’ll wake up and no one will whine about not having health insurance when they get a hangnail.

3 posted on 12/26/2009 7:25:08 PM PST by GOP_Raider (You can now check out GOP_Raider on Twitter at
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To: rabscuttle385

I won’t buy it and I do not have to tell them under the 5th amendment. And I won’t tell them. They will never force me to buy anything. They are truly dreaming.

4 posted on 12/26/2009 7:25:31 PM PST by catarac
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To: rabscuttle385

Romney is an idiot. Those who wish to live under socialist rule should take the next inner tube to Cuba.

5 posted on 12/26/2009 7:27:45 PM PST by Jim Robinson (Join the TEA Party Rebellion!! May God and TEA save the Republic!!)
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To: catarac

Same here. Doctors will go underground anyway, I’m prepared to barter.

6 posted on 12/26/2009 7:28:02 PM PST by Extremely Extreme Extremist (10 YEARS OF FREEPING! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY EEE!!!)
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To: rabscuttle385

i think free republic shoud give obama the “lie of the year award” remember when mccain asked obama if there was FINES in his madated healthcare? and obama said there would be Zero fines.. well they are fines in the bill—

7 posted on 12/26/2009 7:30:21 PM PST by chicken head
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To: rabscuttle385

After Obama’s “buy it or go to jail” Cr*pCare mandate.
Next we can eliminate unemployment with a simular “get a job or go to jail” WorkCare mandate.

Makes sense to a Dem or any other loon.

8 posted on 12/26/2009 7:31:01 PM PST by OldArmy52 (Christmas 2009: Democrats give us Obama Cr*pCare, the t*rd that keeps on stinking.)
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To: rabscuttle385
“Health Care Speechwriter for Edwards, Obama & Clinton Now Without Health Insurance”
I'm a critic because what Washington is talking about doing
has made health insurance unaffordable in Massachusetts.

“Small businesses bridle at health insurance hikes (Romneycare strangles Mass. businesses)
some really bad news from Blue Cross-Blue Shield: His company’s health insurance rates are going up 47 percent in January.”

“ Rationing medicine has already begun
… government-
run health care has introduced rationing and waiting lists and cost the lives of the people under its provisions.”


“President Obama's newly confirmed regulatory czar defended the
possibility of removing organs from terminally ill patients without their permission.”

“You can’t reap these savings without limiting patients’ choices in some way," said Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess.”

“State plan may place limits on patients’ hospital options( Mass. RomneyCare )”

"Romney Visits Nebraska, Talks Health Care [where he defends Romneycare] “

"Paying the Health Tax in Massachusetts [Romneycare]
Massachusetts requires every resident to have health insurance, and this
year, without informing us directly, the state had changed the rules in a way that made
our bare-bones policy no longer acceptable. Unless we ponied up for a pricier policy we
neither need nor want—or enrolled in a government-sponsored insurance plan—we
would have to pay $1,000 each year to the state.
How did we become outlaws? “

"National Health Preview - The Massachusetts debacle, coming soon to your neighborhood."
It was only a matter of time.
They're trying to manage the huge costs of the subsidized middle-class insurance program that is gradually swallowing the state budget.
The program provides low- or no-cost coverage to about 165,000 residents, or three-fifths of the newly insured, and is budgeted at $880 million for 2010, a 7.3% single-year increase that is likely to be optimistic.
The state's overall costs on health programs have increased by 42% (!) since 2006."

A Very Sick Health Plan; Bay State’s ‘Grand Experiment’ Fails [RomneyCare]
"Initiated on Mr. Romney’s gubernatorial watch in 2006, this “experiment” has fallen on hard times, and predictably so. “

Health care in Massachusetts: a warning for America [Romney brings Mass. to its knees]
The Bay State's mandatory insurance law is raising costs, limiting access, and lowering care.

Three years ago, Massachusetts adopted a plan requiring all residents to purchase health
insurance, with state subsidies for lower-income residents. But rather than creating a
utopia of high-quality affordable healthcare, the result has been the exact opposite –
skyrocketing costs, worsened access, and lower quality care."

"‘Severe’ doc shortage seen hiking wait time
“The shortage is getting more severe”"

“Health costs to rise again.( RomneyCare )
The state’s major health insurers plan to raise premiums by about 10 percent next year,
prompting many employers to reduce benefits and shift additional costs to workers.”

“Nation’s ill-advised to follow Mass. plan [Health plan a failure]
September 17, 2009 The canary is dead.
Massachusetts, the model for the ObamaCare universal insurance plan, is the canary in
the health care coal mine. Yesterday, its obit appeared on the front page of both The Wall
Street Journal and The Boston Globe-Democrat “

"Bay State Insurance Premiums Highest in Country - Boston Globe August 22, 2009
Massachusetts has the most expensive family health insurance premiums in the country,
according to a new analysis that highlights the state’s challenge in trying to rein in medical costs
40 percent higher than in 2003. Over the same period, premiums nationwide rose an average of 33 percent..."

"Massachusetts: the laboratory for ObamaCare“

"Massachusetts' Obama-like reforms increase health costs, wait times [RomneyCare]
Premiums are growing 21 to 46 percent faster than the national average"

"Mass. Pushes Rationing to Control Universal Healthcare Costs (RomneyCare)
A 10-member Massachusetts state healthcare advisory board unanimously recommended
that the state begin rationing healthcare to keep the state’s marquee universal health care program afloat financially.

"1,000 cancer patients 'refused treatment'"

"Massachusetts Universal Healthcare System Breaking Down Already
ERs in Massachusetts have not seen a downturn in visits. On the contrary, it seems that ER visits are actually on the upswing in the Bay State. In fact, in 2007 they were higher than the national average by 20 percent...”

"Hospital patients 'left in agony'"

"National Health Preview - The Massachusetts debacle, coming soon to your neighborhood.
In Massachusetts's latest crisis,
They're trying to manage the huge costs of the subsidized middle-class insurance program that is gradually swallowing the state budget.
The program provides low- or no-cost coverage to about 165,000 residents, or three-fifths of the newly insured, and is budgeted at $880 million for 2010, a 7.3% single-year increase that is likely to be optimistic.
The state's overall costs on health programs have increased by 42% (!) since 2006
Mr. Romney should have known better before signing on to this not-so-grand experiment, especially since the state's "free market" reforms that he boasts about have proven to be irrelevant when not fictional.
Only 21,000 people have used the "connector" that was supposed to link individuals to private insurers."

A Very Sick Health Plan; Bay State’s ‘Grand Experiment’ Fails [RomneyCare]
… fiscal troubles aplenty within Repubican Mitt Romney’s brainchild, Massachusetts’ “grand experiment” in “universal” health care."
"Initiated on Mr. Romney’s gubernatorial watch in 2006, this “experiment” has fallen on hard times, and predictably so.
Even though the Bay State commenced its program with a far smaller percentage of uninsured residents than exists nationwide,
“RomneyCare” is threatening to bankrupt the state.“

"Dem Congresswoman Admits Obama Health Care Plan Will Destroy Private Health Insurance Industry"

"Romney’s mistreatments a sick man, as Gov. Mitt Romney meets a medical marijuana patient"

9 posted on 12/26/2009 7:45:55 PM PST by Diogenesis ("Those who go below the surface do so at their peril" - Oscar Wilde)
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To: rabscuttle385

10 posted on 12/26/2009 7:47:08 PM PST by Diogenesis ("Those who go below the surface do so at their peril" - Oscar Wilde)
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To: rabscuttle385
“Was Democrats’ Health Care Strategy Written In Federal Prison?
Rep. Schakowsky’s husband, Robert Creamer, used to be the leader of Citizen
Action/Illinois. He also founded its predecessor, Illinois Public Action, in which Ms.
Schakowsky served as Program Director. He runs a political consulting firm, the
Strategic Consulting Group, which lists ACORN and the SEIU among its clients and
which made $541,000 working for disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

“Creamer resigned from Citizen Action/Illinois after the FBI began investigating him for
bank fraud and tax evasion at Illinois Public Action. He was convicted in 2006 and
sentenced to five months in federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, plus eleven months of house arrest.
While in prison—or “forced sabbatical,” he called it—Creamer wrote a lengthy political
manual, Listen to Your Mother: Stand Up Straight! How Progressives Can Win (Seven
Locks Press, 2007). The book was endorsed by leading Democrats and their allies,
including SEIU boss Andy Stern—the most frequent visitor thus far to the Obama White
House—and chief Obama strategist David Axelrod, who noted that Creamer’s tome
“provides a blueprint for future victories.”

When we correct for both gimmicks, counting both on- and off-budget costs over the first 10 years of implementation, the total cost of ObamaCare reaches — I’m so sorry about this — $6.25 trillion.“

“The former CBO director, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, warns today on the effect ObamaCare
will have on our economy and health care. …This bill will lead to a huge middle class tax increase:
The bill creates a new health entitlement program that the Congressional Budget Office
(CBO) estimates will grow over the longer term at a rate of 8% annually, which is much
faster than the growth rate of the economy or tax revenues.“

”When Barack Obama ran for president, he promised that his health care plan would
"lower health-care costs by $2,500 for the typical family." Now, it turns out that new
legislation that he supports creating public-private "co-operatives" will increase the costs
of family health insurance by $4,000 by 2019.”

”Robert Reich Reveals Brutal Health Care Truths; MSM Snores
"We're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that
technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you
maybe going for another couple of months. It's too we're going to let
you die."

”PriceWaterhouseCoopers concluded that the cost of health insurance for the average
family will rise by $4,000 by 2019, as compared with doing nothing:”

“Customers will pay big for health fix: insurers”

“A major new report confirms the worst fears of many: Health care reform will raise the
costs for most Americans—by about 18% on average. That is on top of existing inflation of health coverage.”

“The WSJ Guide to ObamaCare. A comprehensive collection of our editorials. "

“45% Of Doctors Would Consider Quitting If Congress Passes Health Care Overhaul
Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under
consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting
down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted, a new IBD/TIPP Poll has found.
The poll contradicts the claims of not only the White House, but also doctors' own lobby
— the powerful American Medical Association “

"Obama health care plan projected to cost 5.2 million jobs
In addition wages would be “stunted” for another 10.2 million wage earners."

"Oregon Offers Terminal Patients Doctor-Assisted Suicide Instead of Medical Care
PORTLAND, Ore. — Some terminally ill patients in Oregon who turned to their state for health care
were denied treatment and offered doctor-assisted suicide instead
"[How could they] not pay for medication that would help my life, and yet offer to pay to end my life?"

"Obama Health-Care Would Drive Up Inflation and Health-Care Costs
ObamaCare would shrink the economy, drive up health-care costs and inflation,
and increase the deficit,
Overall, total federal expenditures will be 5.6 percent higher than otherwise by 2019, adding $285.6 billion to the federal deficit in 2019”

"Pushing Veterans Toward the Grave”

11 posted on 12/26/2009 7:48:54 PM PST by Diogenesis ("Those who go below the surface do so at their peril" - Oscar Wilde)
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To: rabscuttle385

PROOF Socialized Medicine is a Disaster

“70 deaths on ward of shame: Patients neglected by lazy nurses in a filthy, blood-spattered casualty unit, says damning report”

Hundreds of patients died needlessly at NHS hospital due to appalling care
The watchdog report comes just months after an investigation into Mid-Staffordshire
The NHS foundation trust found similar problems, with up to 1,200 avoidable deaths. ”

“NHS trust faces probe into high death rate and blood-spattered equipment ”

“NHS will provide free marriage guidance
Doctors and patients' groups said they were "horrified" by the use of NHS resources for
relationship advice when patients with cancer and dementia were being denied
treatment they desperately needed. ”

"Hospital patients 'left in agony'"
"Patients were allegedly left screaming in pain and drinking from flower vases on a nightmare hospital ward.
She said: "We saw patients drinking out of..."

“Woman bleeds to death after doctor punctures jugular - and no blood is available(UK) "

“Canadian Aboriginals receive body bags for flu

Health officials ordered an investigation Thursday into why the Canadian government
sent body bags to an Aboriginal reserve in Manitoba after community leaders requested
assistance to deal with an expected outbreak of swine flu. “

"Patient with ulcer collapses and dies after paramedics tell her: 'Stop being a drama queen'"

"Doctors said I'd had a miscarriage and did nothing as my premature baby fought for his life"

"British Death Panel IBD Editorials September 10, 2009
Single Payer: In Britain, where the public option is about all most patients get,
a newborn has died because national guidelines recommend that the baby not be treated."

"Is This The Obamacare Future? Overworked Doctors in Australia Worried They Are Killing Patients
there are long waiting lists for orthopedic surgery (median wait for total hip replacement is 88 days;
10% of patients waited over 345 days in 1999 to 2000), and cataract surgery (median is 73 days; 10% waited more than 316 days)."

"Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets"

"Sentenced to death on the NHS ….
they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

"NHS blunders allowed cannibal Peter Bryan to kill two”

"Paramedics told: 'Let accident victims die if they want to' in new row over patient rights (UK)"

"Patients Forced To Wait Hours In Ambulances Parked Outside A&E Departments"

"Cancer survivor confronts the health secretary on 62-day wait (UK)"

"Hospital patient so shocked at dirty ward she climbed out of bed to clean it herself."

"Kidney cancer patients denied life-saving drugs by NHS rationing body NICE (UK) "

"Girl, 3, has heart operation cancelled three times because of bed shortage (UK)."

12 posted on 12/26/2009 7:49:32 PM PST by Diogenesis ("Those who go below the surface do so at their peril" - Oscar Wilde)
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To: rabscuttle385

Back in 2008 when Republicans were looking for anything to beat Clinton or Obama they were selling Romney care as the model for America to oppose the democrats with.

13 posted on 12/26/2009 7:59:22 PM PST by sickoflibs ( "It's not the taxes, the redistribution is spending you demand stupid")
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To: rabscuttle385


14 posted on 12/26/2009 8:08:07 PM PST by massmike (...So this is what happens when OJ's jury elects the president....)
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To: sickoflibs
In March 2010, Romney will begin his book tour. Unlike Palin’s book which was autobiographical, Romney's book will be filled with his public policy proposals. Romney will most likely spin Romneycare as a public policy triumph that was screwed by MA Dems, and then he'll give his idea of RomneyCare done the right way.
15 posted on 12/26/2009 8:12:52 PM PST by yongin
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To: sickoflibs


Got a link?

16 posted on 12/26/2009 8:12:57 PM PST by rabscuttle385 (Purge the RINOs! *
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To: rabscuttle385

This is why Mitt-witt should never be allowed to win a Presidential primary.

17 posted on 12/26/2009 8:29:35 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Don't eat your dog; eat obnoxious, liberal humans to save the planet!)
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To: yongin
Unlike Palin’s book which was autobiographical

The last thing that Romney wants to get out, was who and what he was before he started the makeover for the 2008 race. Romney is trying to create a new persona, not reveal his actual persona to us.

18 posted on 12/26/2009 8:37:49 PM PST by ansel12 (Traitor Earl Warren's court 1953-1969, libertarian hero, anti social conservative loser.)
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To: catarac
I won’t buy it and I do not have to tell them under the 5th amendment.

Technically, this is a tax amendment. And the courts have ruled that you have no rights in tax law - only privileges that the IRS or the courts can allow you to have - or not. What this means in tax cases generally, is that if you request a 5th amendment privilege be granted to you, you will be turned down and forced to testify against yourself, on penalty of contempt of court or worse.

And if you demand your 5th amendment rights, you will be cited for contempt of court for - get this - being frivolous.

So it's not hard to figure out how they'd treat 5th amendment issues over this healthcare bill, because if they weren't consistent with other tax cases, it would rip their racket wide open. So it ain't gonna change.

BTW, Congress is well aware of this issue of denying rights - it's why they made it a tax bill, rather than an independent law. They love it - if they had their way, everything would be a tax law.

19 posted on 12/26/2009 8:55:03 PM PST by Talisker (When you find a turtle on top of a fence post, you can be damn sure it didn't get there on it's own.)
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To: catarac

Good News!! The Supreme court ruled in Timothy Leary vs US that we cannot be forced to admit a crime on a tax return. Very clear. You go to jail if you don’t buy insurance? You will not be forced to admit that on a tax return unless they drop the jail time. Of course who knows that is in the bill? No one has ever read it.

20 posted on 12/27/2009 11:00:09 AM PST by catarac
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