Insurance companies may face windfall tax

October 8, 2009 7:31:02 PM PDT
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is investigating a possible windfall tax on insurance companies. The proposed tax came up at a meeting of Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

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Appearing miffed that talk of the proposed tax leaked, Pelosi never the less took responsibility for making the suggestion that health insurance providers be taxed on any windfall profits resulting from health insurance reform.

"After all they're going to get 50 million new consumers, many of the subsidized by the taxpayers, and we think they can put more on the table," Pelosi said.

House Minority Leader Lohn Boehner (R-Ohio) responded as expected.

"All they want to do around here is tax something and if you tax insurance companies, guess what, their customers are going to pay higher premiums, there are no ifs ands or buts about it," Boehner said.

But higher premiums are not the issue for the uninsured.

On an outing to the redwoods, Lori Lustig was bitten by a tick. Three days later she had to go to the emergency room. Three years later she still suffers with chronic Lyme disease.

"I wake up nauseous with a headache and joint pain every day, I feel like I have the flu all day long," Lustig said.

Lustig had health insurance before she got sick but after losing her job she cannot get insurance because of her pre-existing condition.

"They'll give you insurance but you pay an extraordinary fee, you know monthly fee, and I couldn't afford that," Lustig said.

For Lustig, just being able to get affordable coverage is the most important aspect of health insurance reform.

Thursday, Pelosi stressed that is coming.

"No discrimination for pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart condition or cancer, no dropping your coverage because you become sick," she said.

"That would make a complete difference in my life where I could seek treatment, I wouldn't have to worry about fighting for that treatment and I wouldn't have to worry about the cost of that treatment," Lustig said.

The effort to move health care legislation forward got a boost from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO's director wrote a draft opinion that a bill now in the Senate finance committee will reduce the federal budget by $81 billion over 10 years. That is without the windfall profits tax floated by Pelosi.

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