What Do You Really Think About All This Universal Health Insurance Talk?
Watch out, small business. After several months of posturing and "reading tea leaves" to see which way to go, the future of health insurance in the U.S. is beginning to take shape.
Now, as I write this in July, there are no guarantees as to the outcome. But one thing seems close to certain: Health insurance of the future will feature a play or pay component. In a nutshell, employers will either provide some minimal level of health insurance for their employees or pay a penalty if they chose not to provide coverage. And the pay penalty will be a primary — although not the sole — source of funding for some kind of government-operated insurance program for those who can't or won't get private coverage.
Another likely outcome: pre-existing conditions will no longer disqualify an individual for health coverage. It may push the person to a government-offered health care program, not a very attractive thought for someone with a serious pre-existing condition. But that may be all that will be available. Anyone want to trust the government when you've got a serious health issue?
So where do you stand on health care reform?
If the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) were to stake out a position on behalf of park owners, where would you like to see ARVC in this battle?
Should employers (that's you) be mandated to provide coverage at some level or pay a monthly fee into a fund?
Do you favor a government-operated insurance program that would compete with private insurers and (supposedly) keep the private companies honest?
Should employers pay a fee (tax) based on their payroll, and everyone would have health insurance operated by a government agency?
How do you feel about taxing health care benefits provided by employers to their employees with the taxes collected being used to provide health care for those who cannot get it through their employers or otherwise afford it?
Should the government mandate that insurers cover all pre-existing conditions?
How about sharing your views with me at email@example.com and we'll pass along the responses to ARVC and report on them in a future column — total confidentiality assured?
About a year ago, a group of national recreation advocates created the Outdoor Recreation Resources Group (ORRG), an ad hoc collection of industry and public officials who were assembled to develop a new national strategy for recreation in America. On July 2, the group released their report that was presented on July 6 to Congressional honorary chairmen Sen. Jeff Bingaman, (D-N.M.), Sen. Lamar Alexander, (R-Tenn.), and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Like an earlier President's Commission on Americans Outdoors created by President Ronald Reagan in the mid-1980s, this group's report may be viewed as an agenda for U.S. recreation groups and industries.
Highlights of the group's recommendations:
• "Full funding" for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) of $3.2 billion. The program is currently authorized for $900 million per year. The fund is used primarily to add land to public ownership for conservation and protection and is important to outdoor fishing, hunting and other various land-based recreationists. The LWCF is generally administered on the state level adding to its importance.
• A key recommendation calls on the Interior secretary to consider the creation of a new agency in the department to oversee outdoor recreation at the level of the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. This new agency or bureau could be established by secretarial order in the Department of the Interior to enable the federal government to pursue near-term needs and opportunities in outdoor resources and recreation. This would be a significant coup for the recreation industries.
• In another recommendation the commission suggests that the secretary of the Interior work with state and local governments and private parties to establish a national system of waterways to build momentum for improving water quality, creating close-to-home recreation opportunities, revitalizing communities, protecting wildlife corridors, and employing conservation strategies that link together urban and rural settings. In the late 1990s and the early years of this decade, the American Recreation Coalition led the effort to create a National Recreation Lakes program, an effort that made good headway until finally stopped by western federal legislators concerned about a possible federal role over valuable western water rights.
• For the time being, the ORRG commission proposes to study the establishment of a broad new conservation trust to replace LWCF after the year 2015. To pay for the fund, the commission suggests a new commission examine such things as royalties from conventional and renewable energy development onshore and offshore, new conservation and recreation user taxes, and compensatory payments from commodity developers who use public lands. The current LWCF is funded in part, by excise taxes on fuel used by boats and other recreational activities.
The Outdoor Recreation Resources Group is strikingly similar to the earlier President's Commission on Americans Outdoors that laid the groundwork for many recreation-related federal and private sector programs over the last 30 years. If history is any prediction of future action, we can expect the American Recreation Coalition to take a leading role in the eventual implementation of many of the recommendations of this group. No doubt ARC President Derrick Crandall played a key role in the ORRG and will do so in the future to assure its implementation.
David Gorin, former ARVC CEO, is president of David Gorin & Associates, providing management consulting services to the outdoor hospitality industry. He's also a partner in King & Gorin, specializing in Washington representation for associations and businesses in travel, tourism transportation, recreation and public lands. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (703) 448-6863.