Providing health insurance to the 31 million Americans who do not have it and creating a universal long-term care program would cost most adults an additional $430 a year in federal taxes, a congressional commission reported yesterday.
In its final report, the commission, headed by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), listed six possible options for raising the $69.6 billion in new federal funds that would be necessary to finance the new benefits. The commission had recommended the new benefits in earlier reports but never formally agreed on a way to finance them.
Under the commission's plan, basic health insurance would be assured to all persons by requiring employers to provide it or pay a tax. Anyone not covered by an employer could buy into a government health insurance program, or if poor, enroll in it free or at reduced cost.
The plan also provides that anyone requiring long-term care at home because of mental and physical limitations receive it under a government program.
The six funding options examined by the commission include:
Increasing the Social Security payroll tax by 0.95 percent each on employers and employees to raise $44.7 billion. Another $25.3 billion would come from tax increases on payrolls, cigarettes, beer, wine and inheritances.
Relying primarily on a 4 percent value-added sales tax -- with certain exemptions -- to raise $72 billion. About one-fourth of that amount would come from new income taxes on Social Security benefits, top-income taxpayers and on the insurance value of employer-provided health care.
Getting $37 billion by raising the top income tax rate to 33 percent and collecting the remainder of a $70 billion fund by making everyone pay a 7 percent income surtax, increasing cigarette, beer and wine taxes and taxing capital gains at death.
Imposing a new, additional 4.5 percent tax on all personal income above $16,000 ($32,000 for a couple) to raise $75 billion.
Raising $41 billion through Social Security payroll taxes on all job earnings above the current $51,300 annual limit and $30 billion more from new cigarette, beer, wine and capital gains taxes.
Raising $33 billion by increasing the Social Security payroll tax by 0.80 percent each on employers and employees, $12 billion from increasing top income tax rates to 34 percent and $26 billion from other changes.