Issue Position: Health Care
With over 47 million Americans uninsured, I am committed to finding responsible reforms to increase health coverage. I believe the first step in expanding coverage, however, is to implement reforms that contain and lower the cost of care. Part of the reason that insurance is so expensive is because health care itself is so costly.
As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, with jurisdiction over the Medicare program, I believe there are ways to use the weight of the federal government to move the health system towards more efficient, quality care. For example, the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007, H.R. 3162, would have increased access to preventive care services and rewarded health care providers for efficiency. I was proud to support this legislation when it came to the House floor last year. H.R. 3162 is currently pending before the Senate.
The cost of health care not only affects access to insurance, it also impacts local businesses that are the driver of this nation's economy. In particular, I am concerned that rising health care costs are pricing entrepreneurs, small business owners, and family farmers out of the market. When you add to that an inequity in the tax code that penalizes them further, it is no surprise that sixty percent of Americans without health insurance are from families where the head of household is self-employed or works in a small business.
Currently, self-employed individuals are the only type of businesses that pay federal payroll taxes of 15.3% on health insurance premiums. Considering the fact that the self-employed pay on average $12,100 per year for family coverage, this extra tax burden amounts to approximately $1,850 more to the federal government every tax season.
That is why I authored the Equity for our National's Self-Employed Act, H.R. 3660. This commonsense bill would exempt health insurance premiums from payroll tax for sole proprietors, providing immediate help to 16.7 million self-employed individuals -- more than 340,000 in Wisconsin alone -- who have the deck stacked against them when it comes to affording quality health care.
Too many Americans have fallen through the cracks as health care costs continue to climb. Providing all Americans with access to quality, affordable health care is beneficial to everyone: workers, students, families, and business owners alike. I will continue to work to make health care both more affordable and accessible.