June 14th, 2009
05:10 PM ET
11 years ago

Biden refuses to rule out new tax on health care benefits

Vice President Biden said Sunday that the Obama administration opposes taxing employer-provided health care benefits but would not say the president would reject legislation that included such a new tax.

Vice President Biden said Sunday that the Obama administration opposes taxing employer-provided health care benefits but would not say the president would reject legislation that included such a new tax.

(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that the Obama administration opposes taxing the medical benefits employers provide workers to pay for health care reform, but he refused to rule it out entirely.

"We do not think that is the way to go; we think that is the wrong way to finance this legislation," Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. Pressed on whether President Barack Obama would veto a bill from Congress containing such a mechanism, Biden said Obama would consider the measure in total before making a decision.

Obama has outlined a series of steps to lower current costs and raise taxes to pay for an overhaul of the health care system, including creation of a government-funded "public" option for the nation's 46 million uninsured. He will speak Monday to the American Medical Association, which questions how a public option can work.

On Saturday, the president proposed $313 billion in cuts and new savings over the next decade, with some of the funds coming from expected increases in efficiency, reductions in excessive hospital payments and drug cost savings from individuals enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.

Biden noted that the administration also seeks to raise $300 billion in taxes by limiting the deductions of high-income Americans.

Republican leaders join Obama and Democrats in calling for health care reform, but oppose a public option as a potential boondoggle that would be unfair to private insurers.

"If the government is in the insurance business, there won't be any other insurers Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told the CBS program "Face the Nation."

"It's inevitable because the taxpayers will be backing up the program."

McConnell said "virtually every Republican" would oppose a government-funded public option, which Obama supports to provide coverage for those currently uninsured and to stimulate competition with private insurers to lower costs.

Possible alternatives to a public option include private cooperatives, like electricity cooperatives, owned and paid for by communities that would compete with existing insurance programs.

Supporters say such a program would require initial government support, but eventually would provide the kind of competition Obama seeks without creating a new government bureaucracy.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that Obama was open to whatever ideas will work to address a problem that must be addressed.

"The costs are crushing us," Sebelius said. "It's hurting families. Our businesses are less competitive. We can't continue on this pathway."

Like Biden, she warned against a possible tax on medical benefits, saying it would affect privately owned plans that currently cover 180 million Americans.

"There is still a great deal of disagreement on whether or not taxing benefits at any level of any kind really does put us a step forward or take us a step back," Sebelius said.

Updated: 5:10 p.m.

Filed under: Health care • Joe Biden • Popular Posts
soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. Wolfie

    It's not "health care reform" we need. It's INSURANCE REFORM. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama dominates in my home state. Whatever (low) rate of repayment they set, that's it. Almost no one will compete with them in Alabama.

    It's the INSURANCE COMPANIES that fuel the high cost of health care... along with the DRUG COMPANIES.

    As long as these two industries can do whatever they want, whenever they want and whatever cost they want... it's never going to get better. And if they tax health benefits that employers provide, they will simply stop providing health care insurance at all.

    June 14, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  2. Joe Gatten

    It seems that Biden is the focal point of the CNN headlines today. Where is the Big Dog? He is telling the little dog to fetch and heal. Evidently the press has not had adequate access to the Big Dog to ask the tough questions, or..........???

    June 14, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Shannon

    he certainly opposed it, when McCain said he was going to tax our health benefits. Now he's considering it, has he done one thing that he promised. The middle class can't take any more taxes. I pay for my own health care through payroll deductions, I pay my mortgage, I'm tired of paying for everyone else, and I'm tired of this President going back on what he ran on.

    June 14, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Kate

    What else do you expect from tax and spend democrats?

    June 14, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  5. Where will it end

    Okay...where do I send the contents of my bank account and wallet...this is getting crazy...and this is only the beginning of which will be FOUR long years of the Obama gang raping us of our livelihood and our future of ever living the "American Dream"...where will it end?

    June 14, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. Ronald

    Republican or Democrat, When talking about taxes and government run programs, one must consider that the 250K income cap will probably mean very little once inflation kicks in within the next decade. Fair minded economis' will tell you that the annual 3% average will not be such in the next decade. Therefore, a household making 100K today may need to make 200K by 2019 to get by. That's not far off the 250K cap. We have a social responsibility to help those less fortunate, however, one hand must wash the other or both hands will eventually get dirty... Government gives you health benny's, you build them infrastructure in your free time.

    June 14, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  7. Don

    No public option? Watch what the republicans start calling for in the 2012 campaigns. I can almost hear the GOP chanting universal coverage. They will denigh to Obama what they will need to take back the white house. No public option? A guarantee Obama will be a one term, didn't do much president.

    Quit cowtowing to the GOP and find your spine.

    June 14, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  8. FleetFootNC

    Tax, borrow and spend liberals are digging their political graves. Not a bad thing.

    June 14, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  9. Jason

    except for bribes to the politicians, there is no reason to protect the profits of the private insurers.

    so maybe the politicians should stop taking bribes.

    June 14, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  10. Neutralizer

    $600 billion NEW TAX INCREASE on that healthcare proposal by the DEMOCRAPS!

    Are you ready to pay more taxes when you can barely put food in your table?

    Do you want to have rationed healthcare like Canada and Great Britain? Don't you know in UK right now they are refusing treatment for some patients with cancer, just let the person die, it will save them MORE money than saving it. There are states now in USA like Washington State ASSISTED SUICIDE when people don't want treatment anymore. Sure go ahead with nationalized healthcare, the federal govt will see to it those whose treatment are expensive can die LEGALLY.

    June 14, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. bill

    The real problems with healthcare:

    1) many insured people do not take advantage of their preventive care benefits which are typically 100% paid by the health plan;

    2) many people eat like pigs and sit on their a$$e$ all day, to wit 67% of Americans are overweight and ticking time bombs and 33% are obese and unnecesarily cost the system for teatment of type 2 diabetes and chronic pain;

    3) too many people in certain geographic areas continue to smoke;

    4) we have a synthetic society with bloodstreams full of legal drugs.

    Throw money at the problem and the situation will get even worse. It's time for personal accountability. Yes, people, I've seen the healthcare enemy, and he is us.

    June 14, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  12. rkidd

    If this government health care plan passes, watch employers bail out of paying for healthcare plans, after all you have the government plan.

    Now we will ahve some government bean counter deciding which procedures we will be allowed to have.

    60 or older sorry your to old to get that kidney transplant, need a pacemaker? sorry not cost effective at your age. x-ray – sorry you allready had one this year.

    If government gets involved, you can be assured they will screw it up and screw us over.

    June 14, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  13. J.C.

    Of course, we will have to raise taxes for universal health coverage, but we should have universal coverage for all American citizens. This will free a big burden off small businesses and encourage innovations. Better yet, it will give small businesses a fair start to compete with big corporations, which pay a much lower premium for health coverage premium. Then small businesses will start to contribute their share of taxes later.

    When the economy turns innovative and productive, everyone benefits.

    June 14, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  14. J

    When you get all the illegal aliens off our medical system who aren't paying for health care, we'll have A LOT more money to fix our ailing healthcare problems. 20 to 40 million illegals are putting a monumental strain on America's hospitals who feel they must treat all comers regardless of their nationality or financial ability to pay. That's admirable, but the illegals KNOW we'll treat them for free and specifically cross the borders to use our hospitals. Of course they're going to stay in our country if we give them free medical, dental, schooling, housing, and welfare. They are laughing at us and spitting on our country.

    June 14, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. annie against biased news

    Between government owned/run health care, goreble wallet warming cap & trade – we will be lucky to get $1.00 out of our paychecks and that is starting with those making $15,000 per year and up. Then they will force us to take that $1.00 and buy and enclosed golf cart made by government motors.

    June 14, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  16. Rick Fl

    If they do this all employers will drop ins then we all can be on the gov dole

    June 14, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. Joe Carey

    After reading a dozen or so postings Ive not come to a conclusion on publicaly funded health care......but I have come to one conclusion I think if you take Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity off the air maybe some of these people would have to think for themselves and not spoow whatever canned garbage thats been fed to them via corporate interest programs

    June 14, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  18. S

    To those saying we have one of the worst health care systems in the industrialized world....then why do foreigners come here so frequently for health care?? As a former hospital employee I can't tell you the number of people I saw who brought over elderly parents from another country so they could receive their care here. I realize I don't fully know the extent of how this gov't run health care program would work, but how would adding to the tax burden of those who are fortunate enough to have company-sponsered health insurance help them? So now not only would they be paying out of pocket for some of their own expenses, but they'd have to pay for other people's as well?? On top of Medicare and Medicaid???

    June 14, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  19. DaveinSC

    Average American


    You are right in what you said here. Democrats have always had a track record of taxing business, and we wonder why jobs are going overseas to friendlier places. I work and I pay for my families insurance coverage. I do not want to have to pay for everyone else too.

    Obama is bringing change alright, the poor will get poorer and the middle class lose its jobs to big government taxing thier jobs overseas.

    June 14, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  20. TCM

    idiots here thinking Biden and OBama are looking out for your health care concerns....The King story about Orlando is a farce; a fragment of the true story....across the nation most that do not have insurance or cannot afford it, failed to plan...and now what those that were responsible and planned to cover thier asses...sure, there are a few hard luck cases...but when you see Jose leaving wal-mart with a flat screen, getting into his Escalade and then showing up at the ER because he has no insurance...well, it's a shame....

    AVERAGE AMERICAN's correct; OBama's had intentions all along of taxing even the poor to get his agenda through...you stupid libs thought it wouldn't affect you..

    June 14, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  21. Joe in NJ

    Pete, you are going to be paying $250 in taxes plus the $450 you are already paying. Too many Obama supporters are in a state of denial to see what's really going on in this country.

    June 14, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  22. Donna

    Listen, there already is a good health care plan...Medicare. Medicare should be extended for all. Employers should give employees what it cost them to provide health care. This would boost salaries and allow employees to purchase supplemental insurance if they so choose. A standard formula should be instituted for medical malpractice suits against doctors, in much the same fashion that child support is figured out in custody cases. Make a fair formula and apply it across the board. Prescription plans, eye plans and dental plans must also be considered standard coverage. I think it would be paid for by electronic stream lining of medical records, enforcing fraud laws already on the books and by copays of reasonable amounts ($10, $15). That's my take on it. The rest is politics and I'm not interested.

    June 14, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  23. jim

    It is a wonder to me that those who know nothing about the European system for health care think it is so good. I worked with Europeans via a global corporation and the Europeans that can aford health care do NOT get it in Europe.... they come to America.

    Enough said.

    June 14, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  24. Philly

    Many companies give you an opt out in flexible benefit's plans. I don't have to get health insurance. So if I opt out, there is nothing to tax. Instead I will let the government cover me at someone else expense.

    Yes everyone deserves healthcare if we can afford it or not. Let's just print the money, become more in debt because everyone should be entitled to everything and 'the government' (that's really us) should pay for it.

    Wake up people America is about the 'pursuit' of happiness not the 'entitlement' of happiness.

    June 14, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  25. roger

    Health care isn't working in Massachusetts the cost aren't contained like it was supposed to be. If a state can't do it right you know the FEDS will really screw it up!!!!!! Before Obama does Health care let him fix the other problems that he started or has on his plate. Just because Obama has a idea don't start it and throw everyone into it when the majority are happy with their health care don't want to change be thrown into a government program that will give you less and pay more. Then Biden said that they may tax health benefits , lets get a clear accounting of ALL who don't have health care ,why they don't are they US citizens. I don't know what the rush is to take our health care away the best in ALL THE WORLD unless the UAW is going to take over

    June 14, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
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