Chief Political Correspondent September 2, 2009
In short, health care reform, as currently envisioned by Democratic leaders, would be built on the foundation of an expanded and more intrusive IRS.
Under the various proposals now on the table, the IRS would become the main agency for determining who has an "acceptable" health insurance plan; for finding and punishing those who don't have such a plan; for subsidizing individual health insurance costs through the issuance of a tax credits; and for enforcing the rules on those who attempt to opt out, abuse, or game the system.
A substantial portion of H.R. 3200, the House health care bill, is devoted to amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in order to give the IRS the authority to perform these new duties.
The Democrats' plan would require all Americans to have "acceptable" insurance coverage (the legislation includes long and complex definitions of "acceptable") and would designate the IRS as the agency charged with enforcing that requirement.
On your yearly 1040 tax return, you would be required to attest that you have "acceptable" coverage. Of course, you might be lying, or simply confused about whether or not you are covered, so the IRS would need a way to check your claim for accuracy. Under current plans, insurers would be required to submit to the IRS something like the 1099 form in which taxpayers report outside income. The IRS would then check the information it receives from the insurers against what you have submitted on your tax form.