"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

March 06, 2006

This is the standard form letter that I received and was sent to all those constituents who asked the Senator for her opinion on HSAs. Still, it's reassuring to know that she strongly rejects this tax break for the rich, and I think it's worth reprinting here:

Dear Friend:

Thank you for writing to express your opposition to the high costs of health care and the Bush Administration's proposal to expand Health Savings Accounts. I appreciate hearing from you, and I agree with you.

The Bush Administration claims that Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are "consumer-driven health plans" that allow people to individually set aside money to pay for un-reimbursed medical expenses. In fact, HSAs are tax breaks that primarily benefit upper-income individuals who can afford to put money away and receive the maximum tax advantage. HSAs provide little or no benefit for middle- and low-income people, who are in a lower tax bracket and less likely to have extra money to set aside.

In addition to providing tax breaks for upper-income people, HSAs are designed to induce consumers to enroll in health plans with a deductible of at least $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for family coverage. People who enroll in these high-deductible plans usually wind up spending more on health care, and they are more likely to delay or forgo treatment than people in comprehensive health plans.

As over 46 million Americans fall into the ranks of the uninsured and health care costs and insurance premiums continue to soar, President Bush wants to increase the amount of money individuals can deposit into HSAs. This is an inequitable and unacceptable way of addressing America 's health care crisis that fails working families, children, seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor.

Again, thank you for writing to me. Rest assured, I will fight the President's proposed expansion of Health Savings Accounts and will work hard to lower the costs of medical care, and to make health coverage available to all Americans.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

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