Business Groups: “Raise Taxes for Existing Health Care Programs”

I have a great deal of respect for people who own and operate businesses in New Mexico. This a big-government state and the culture is not friendly to entrepreneurs. That said, a recent story (subscription required) from the Albuquerque Journal’s Business Outlook section outlining a new health care plan being developed by business groups including the New Mexico Restaurant Association and the Association of Commerce and Industry.
Unfortunately, rather than supporting market-based reforms such as those proposed earlier this year by the Rio Grande Foundation, this supposedly “pro-business” coalition instead is arguing that the gross receipts tax (as opposed to taxes levied on employers) should fund the expansion of government health care plans. While the business coalition does at least stress the fact that, as Beverly McClure of ACI notes “about half of the state’s uninsured already qualify for some kind of coverage or public program, and they still don’t sign up.” Nonetheless, if this coalition wanders down the path of higher taxation and bigger government, they are heading down the same path towards government-managed health care that Governor Richardson’s failed plan did.
Rather than bigger government, New Mexico businesses must rally behind ideas like eliminating the gross receipts tax on health care, allowing individuals to purchase coverage across state lines, and reforming Medicaid (to name just a few ideas). These reforms — unlike government programs — will cut costs and increase coverage.