Coughing fits

By AL DIAMON  |  May 18, 2011

Of course, LePage doesn't see it that way. He's optimistic the six-buck tax will raise $20 million a year, but will be offset by eliminating Dirigo, which costs $48 million. "The reality," said Bennett in an e-mail, "is Republicans are offering a significant tax reduction."

Not exactly. Most of Dirigo's budget comes from a fee charged to insurance companies. Unless those beneficent organizations opt to refund the savings to their policyholders, there won't be any payback for the public.

Rather than looting the bank accounts of those fortunate enough to have insurance or those unfortunate enough to have three-pack-a-day habits, there might be a simpler way to provide health care to folks intent on making themselves sick.

My plan relies on established precedents. Before you can buy alcohol, it's not uncommon to be asked to show proof you're at least 21. Before you can purchase a firearm, you have to be checked to see that you don't have a criminal record. Before you can drive a car, you're supposed to have a card showing you've bought liability insurance.

Let's apply that same principle to health care.

If you want a pack of smokes, you'll have to demonstrate to the clerk in the convenience store that you have sufficient health care to cover radiation, chemo, and hospice for whatever wretched period of time you have left.

Without that policy, you'll be quitting tobacco cold turkey, thereby reducing your potential medical expenses and making insurance more affordable.

You'll save money, and you can use the time you would have spent smoking to join me in practicing the one vice they'll never be able to tax:

Sloth.

E-mail me at aldiamon@herniahill.net, although I might be too lazy to reply.

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