State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
Last week at a state Capitol news conference and during several media interviews about my request for a public hearing on Senate Joint Resolution 62, I referred to penalties for Americans that don’t purchase health care under the approved federal health care legislation. Citizens that fail to pay taxes go to jail. Is that, I asked, what will happen to those refusing to purchase mandated health insurance?
IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman spoke Monday before the National Press Club in Washington D.C, and attempted to minimize one of the key provisions of the legislation, fines for people shunning health care purchases.
"These are not the kinds of things we send agents out about," Shulman told the audience. "These are things where you get a letter from us. Congress was very careful to make sure there was nothing too punitive in this bill."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, “The new health care fines, which go into full effect in 2016, are attracting quite a bit of attention as states and others challenge the constitutionality of a federal mandate requiring Americans to carry health insurance. Other detractors, however, criticize the penalties as too weak to be effective. The penalties for not carrying insurance could eventually amount to as much as $695 or 2.5% of a person's taxable income. That's far less than what annual insurance premiums could add up to.”
Do you buy IRS Commissioner Shulman’s explanation?
The Associated Press reported March 9, 2010, “President Barack Obama said he'll bring in high-tech bounty hunters to help root out health care fraud, grabbing a populist idea with bipartisan backing in his final push to overhaul the system. The bounty hunters in this case would be private auditors armed with sophisticated computer programs to scan Medicare and Medicaid billing data for patterns of bogus claims. The auditors would get to keep part of any funds they recover for the government.”
If the administration intends to “bring in”, i.e. hire additional bureaucrats to combat Medicare and Medicaid fraud, it stands to reason it will do the same to find, fine, and punish health insurance scofflaws.
I find it more than unusual that an IRS Commissioner would tell a national audience that his agency is not going to aggressively pursue violators of a specific provision, a statement I cannot recall a head of the IRS ever publically making about any other specific tax law. Believable?