By Mark Fischenich
MANKATO — Allen Quist warned of a government takeover of the nation’s health-care system and a looming tax increase that will be the largest the middle class has ever seen.
On the verge of announcing a campaign against Congressman Tim Walz, Quist hosted a health care forum in Mankato — one of three across the 1st District. A St. Peter farmer, former Bethany Lutheran College professor and longtime Republican activist and candidate, Quist said the bill will inevitably lead to the end of employment-based insurance coverage.
The bill passed by House Democrats provides subsidized and extremely inexpensive insurance for the poor and middle class, Quist said. A family of four with an income of $45,000 would face an insurance bill of just $317 a year.
“Of course, I ask the question ‘Who’s paying the rest?’” he said.
The bill has income tax surcharges on individuals making more than $500,000 a year and couples earning more than $1 million, along with reductions in Medicare payments to health-care providers.
“That’s totally a smoke screen,” he said, predicting massive premium increases for upper middle-class taxpayers who don’t qualify for subsidies. “It’s the middle class that’s going to pay the bill.”
Quist, who promised to have details of his fiscal analysis of the bill on his Web site in the next five days, was joined by a Minnesota nurse who issued even more alarming warnings about the health-care reform bills before Congress.
Registered nurse Twila Brase characterized the reform effort as an “awful bill that’s going to kill a lot of people.” Brase is president of the Citizens Council on Health Care, a conservative organization based in St. Paul that opposes government involvement in health care and favors a free-market cash-based payment system.
“We’re all that stand between you and socialized medicine,” Brase told the crowd of about 40 at the Mankato Happy Chef.
Brase said the bill contains provisions that will bring government agents into homes containing young children to judge the quality of the parenting. It will also set up a system where elderly people are examined to see if they’re fit enough to continue receiving health care.
“You will be weighed, watched, measured for fitness to decide when your time is over,” Brase said of the senior citizens in the audience.
Democrats and independent fact-check organizations have disputed accusations that the bill constitutes socialized medicine, that it would establish death panels, and many of the other criticisms raised by opponents. But the statements at the forum, backed up with references to articles from the Wall Street Journal editorial page and by Notre Dame associate business professor John Gaski, left the audience clearly troubled.
Audience members asked what they could do to stop the reform legislation, which passed the House on Saturday but still needs to be approved by the Senate before a final compromise version can be negotiated and sent to both bodies for final approval.
One audience member suggested a fundraising effort to buy newspaper ads across the country laying out the information from the meeting. Others wondered about the effectiveness of calling or writing members of Congress.
One man said he’s getting politically involved for the first time.
“I’m concerned and scared about the future of our country,” he said.