An open letter to Secretary Sebelius

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Dear Dr., err, Mrs. Sebelius,

I would like to thank you for this unique opportunity to ask you frankly about the health care bill and what it means for all Americans, especially those of us here in New Orleans. As someone who has done Katrina relief right after the storm and seen the devastation and utter destruction of federal, state and local infrastructure and the failure of our government to provide adequate care for its people, I believe that this health care bill shows the good intent of government in stepping in the right direction. I believe that this country was founded on principles of providing equal opportunities as well as general welfare for its people.

However, at a time when our nation’s deficit is growing at a near-exponential rate, with rising entitlement spending, I wonder if this massive overhaul approach taken by the government was the smart thing to do (I am not questioning whether it was the right thing to do).

We, as Americans, spend 9.7 percent of GDP on entitlement programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid today and it will reach 15% our GDP by 2030, while the source for government revenue decreases as we are projected to see the worker to beneficiary ratio go from 3-to-1 to 2-to-1 also by 2030.

How are we going to pay for this health care without raising taxes on corporations and all its citizens at a time when 10.4 percent of Americans are unemployed? In just Orleans Parish alone, we have a 9.5 percent unemployment rate as of this January and it is projected to increase by the end of this calendar year.

This law will now require employers who do not provide for insurance “deemed adequate” by the government standards to pay $2,000 fine for every employee it has. Wouldn’t this create a serious deleterious effect on the job market?

This bill also includes a 3.8 percent increase in additional revenue in income taxes, which would amount to $22.7 billion decrease in disposable income that is being robbed of Americans at a crucial time of need.

What kind of effect will it have on our consumer-based economy?

This reform also, for the first time in our history, adds a payroll tax for Medicare in investment income. How are we to thrive in this global economy and boost our export when the Yuan is devalued against the dollar constantly and our trade deficit with China mounts at 220 billion dollars this year while American corporations pay the second highest corporate tax rate in the world at a whooping 39.27 percent?

Even such socialist-leaning nations as Sweden levy a 28 percent corporate tax rate, so how is the government going to ensure the public of job creation when it is becoming painful clear to American corporations that they must seek tax-haven elsewhere?

To balance the budget, the government must increase federal taxes by 30 percent effective immediately and permanently for the next 25 years, so why is spending more money a priority instead of trying to let the market decide its fate when it comes to health care and bring down the level of federal spending across the board, including entitlements?

Lastly, it was proposed by the proponents, such as the President, that the law would result in a $2,500 annual reduction in family healthcare costs. However, according to the CBO, “the average premium per person covered (including dependents) for new nongroup policies would be about 10 percent to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium for nongroup coverage in that same year under current law.” Therefore, are we not just shifting the burden from one group of citizens to another?

The reasoning behind providing health care for 32 million Americans at the expense of 270 million Americans just because the government deems health care a necessary right for people is just as flawed as the government trying to provide cars for 100 million Americans without cars just so that they can get to their places of work and to do their daily chores. However, with this health care bill, instead of providing adequate cars, you are giving 32 million Americans each with a 1972 Oldsmobile with broken airbags and barely-functioning seatbelts while mandating that 270 million Americans to drive a Toyota Camry with faulty brakes. Where is justice in this rationale? Instead of promoting democracy, are you not punishing the majority for the benefit of the minority? Is this not social injustice?

Thank you again for answering my questions with regard to health care and the dismal state of our current economy.


Ryuk Byun

Ryuk Byun is a graduate of the University of Virginia and is currently a medical student at Tulane University School of Medicine.