Carthage City Attorney Nate
Dally filed a response Wednesday to a change of
venue request filed by KAMO Electric Cooperative
in the suit involving the City of Carthage and
KAMO in regard to the placement of the City skate
park. The company has power lines within 50 feet
of the new facility. A hearing has been scheduled
for January 27 for the change of venue hearing.
KAMO, a rural electric
cooperative based in Vinita, Oklahoma, filed suit
for an injunction claiming that the City had
violated its power line right-of-way when the
park was built last summer in the Fair Acres
Sports Complex. The company asks the court to
either have the City remove the park from within
the right-of-way, or allow the cooperative to
remove the park with the City paying for costs.
The City Council was aware of
KAMOs claim of right-of-way before it
installed equipment on the concrete pad poured
for park and discussed it in open session. They
voted 9-0 in August to go ahead with the
installation of equipment in spite of KAMOs
Care Reform Means for: Those Already Insured
by Olga Pierce and Sabrina
Tracy Bullion, 46
Location: Fort Wayne, Ind.
Health Care Status: Happy with her insurance
and worried about the cost of reform.
Household Income: $110,000
Tracy Bullion and her
husbandalong with their three kids, ages
11, 14 and 18are happy with their health
insurance, which they get through her
husbands employer. "Weve got
good eye, good dental," she says. "And
weve worked a long time for it."
The Bullions pay about $350 a
month for a premium. The family has enjoyed good
health, except for a lump in Bullions
breast last year, which turned out to be benign.
Their payments for tests on the lump amounted to
"$50 here, $100 there," she said.
Bullion worries that an
expanded government role in health care,
including a public option, would negatively
impact the coverage she has and the
"I just hope that we see a
bill out there that makes sense, that isnt
going to put us in such deep, deep debt to where
our children and grandchildren are going to be
paying for it for the rest of their lives,"
changes would mean for her:
Neither the House nor Senate
bill would require the Bullions to change plans,
and the cost of their health insurance probably
wouldnt change muchbut lenient
penalties might lead some companies to drop their
Both the House and Senate bills
allow people who are happy with their coverage to
keep it, unless it is below a minimum standard,
in which case they would have to pay a tax
penalty. Since Bullions coverage meets the
minimum coverage standards set out in both bills,
she and her family would not be affected.
There are concerns about
employers pushing workers off to public programs,
and indeed it has happened before.
The House and Senate bills
include tax penalties for employers over a
certain size that choose not to offer coverage
but the Senates penalty would be
Under the House plan, most
employers including Mr. Bullions
would be required to provide health
insurance, or else they would be fined 8 percent
of their total payroll. But that might actually
cost less than paying for insurance itself,
because more than half of employers currently pay
10 percent or more of their payroll for health
The Senate plan would take an
even gentler approach. Large employers
wouldnt have to offer health coverage. But
for each employee who qualified for a government
subsidy to buy insurance those making less
than four times the federal poverty
levelthe business would be fined $750
annually. Thats far less than the roughly
$4,000 that companies pay on average now for
single employee coverage.
Again, employers would have to
decide if the benefits of continuing to offer
coverage, such as employee morale and avoiding
the fine, made it worthwhile. But more businesses
might decide that it made sense to end coverage
and instead just pay the relatively small fine.
Of course, currently employers
can drop insurance benefits with no penalty, and
many are doing so as the economy tanks and costs
continue to rise.
The reforms being proposed
could put some upward pressure on premiums,
because both the House and Senate plans would
require a comprehensive benefits package. That
means all insurance plans would have to offer
things like pediatric exams, hospitalization and
prescription drugs. In general, the more
comprehensive a plans coverage, the more it
costs. Rules against turning down people with
pre-existing conditions are in both bills, and a
cap on deductibles in the House bill could also
drive up premiums.
On the other hand, proponents
of health care reform, including President Barack
Obama, have argued that health care providers
charge insured people more for health care to
recoup the cost of care for the uninsured.
Reducing the number of uninsured people could
reduce the cost of some kinds of care,
potentially reducing premiums. But the evidence
of this is somewhat limited.
An analysis of the Senate
proposal , by the nonpartisan Congressional
Budget Office, did indeed find that the cost of
coverage in the individual market would go up
about 10 to 13 percent, although that effect
would be cancelled out for about half of the
people buying insurance on their own because they
would receive subsidies.
For people who, like Bullion,
purchase insurance through the large group market
- an estimated 70 percent of people under the
Senate proposal - the CBO found the Senate bill
would have a "negligible" effect on the
cost of insurance.
The answer to how much the
reform proposals would cost taxpayers is nearly
as complicated. According to CBO estimates, the
Senate plan would include $848 billion in new
federal spending over 10 years, and the House
plan calls for an eye-popping $1.05 trillion in
new spending. Either way, it sounds like a huge
drain on the federal budget.
But not so fast.
Both plans would offset the new
spending with reductions in other federal health
care costs and new sources of revenue.
Under the Senate plan, changes
to Medicare, the penalties individuals and
businesses would pay for not having insurance,
and revenue from taxes on so-called
"Cadillac" insurance plans and the
health care industry, would generate $859
billion. Taking that into account, the
Congressional Budget Office estimates that the
Senate plan would actually reduce the deficit by
$130 billion over the next 10 years.
The House plan would make many
of the same changes, except it would impose a 5.4
percent surcharge on adjusted gross incomes of
more than $500,000 for singles and $1 million for
joint filers instead of the tax on high-cost
Taking that into account the
House plan would reduce the federal deficit by an
estimated $138 billion over 10 years, according
to the CBO.
The decades after 2010-2019
would be more expensive because many of the
reform provisions would not kick in until halfway
through this decade, but the cost savings and
taxes would start much sooner. For 2020-2029, the
CBO estimate is that the plans would basically
break even, or result in a small decrease of the
federal budget deficit.
This all presumes, of course,
that the revenue-raising measures, some of which
have already drawn ire, actually make it into the
final legislation intact. As some longtime
observers of health care reform, like Washington
Post columnist David Broder, have pointed out,
Congress has struggled before to make some of the
proposed changes especially those
pertaining to Medicare.