Email Letters: June 30, 2017

Religious organizations should pay taxes

We believe that religious organizations should pay taxes. Though the government will refrain from requiring this tax, we urge other non-profits to voluntarily pay taxes.

The civil duty to pay tax is clear. The 16th Amendment grants the P=people, by and through their Congress, the right to collect income taxes. The 1st, 8th and 9th grant similar rights to the people to permit taxation of real and personal property, as well as by taxation of such capital and labor, and the profit gained by those – even to compel military service. Such taxes provide for the common defense and general welfare, and to achieve the other purposes of our democracy.

As we would not have another evade their duty to our defense and welfare, so should we not dodge our duty to our fellow citizens: this is the very expression of American democracy, the principle of equality. We shouldn’t begrudge this duty; it’s morally sound.

If such principles of democracy are morally sound, there is a responsibility of religious leaders to demonstrate this same good citizenship – that their congregants may learn by emulation the subtle lesson.

Some religious organizations don’t pay taxes because it supports programs they do not believe in. But would they require non-believers to then subsidize their own activities (some of which are no doubt morally objectionable to other faiths)? Would they thrust the burden of their unpaid taxes upon those least able to afford it? This is un-American.

Few will deny that religious organizations provide vital services to their communities. This is their work. And it’s reasonable to expect religious organizations will succeed at this work, and prosper by it. And profit by it, to amass property – and capital. And it’s equally reasonable to ask they pay taxes on such labor and capital.

AARON BRACHFELD

Loka Hatha Yoga
Grand Junction

Health care should not be a partisan issue

It takes something quite nasty for our notoriously brazen, Twitter-happy president to call something mean, but that is exactly how he referred to the House health care bill. Yet, the Senate chose to propose something nearly as cruel, although it did spare an additional one million people’s coverage, according to the CBO report.

I concede that the current system has major issues that need to be addressed. Premiums are going up too fast in too many places and people are losing options for coverage. This problem has been exacerbated by a president who says the system is collapsing and who has threatened subsidies that help pay for coverage, thus causing additional and unnecessary instability in the health insurance market.

One issue that may be lost in this debate is the impact on children and education. Approximately 40 percent of children are covered by Medicaid. Under the expansion of this program, mothers have received improved prenatal care, many children have had expanded medical coverage, and children have maintained coverage for a longer period of time since they are allowed to stay on their parent’s coverage for an expanded period of time. Children who come to school healthy obviously will have a higher rate of success.

In addition, schools rely heavily on the Medicaid program for funding to provide services to students with disabilities. The bill proposes ending the expansion of this program and providing block grants to states. Rationing these funds would lead states to have to make difficult budget choices when it comes to supporting these students and ultimately all students because choices would have to be made for programs to cut in order to provide sufficient health care funding which ultimately would impact the dollars available for the education budget.

This should not be a partisan issue. It is time to let Sen. Gardner know that this bill is unacceptable and encourage Sen. Bennet to continue his vocal fight against this legislation.

TRENT WUSTER

Fruita

Sen. Gardner, do not support the Senate health care bill

An open letter to Sen. Cory Gardner regarding the Senate health care bill

As a psychiatrist practicing on the Western Slope at Mind Springs Health, a mental health organization dedicated to the needs of the working poor, the disabled and everyone else (with a paucity of resources), I cannot imagine you supporting the current health bill up for approval.

It has been known for years that untreated mental illness contributes to increased health care costs, both medical and psychiatric. Everyone knows that outpatient treatment is cheaper than inpatient care. As we have such limited inpatient facilities here on the Western Slope, our patients and their families will often be cared for by the criminal justice system and hospitals if this bill passes.

As a physician who works in the jails, I can tell you it is not the optimal place to treat most mental illnesses, let alone acute psychosis and drug withdrawal. Child Protective Services are not as effective (and are more costly) than treating parents’ mental illnesses so they can care for their own children.

My patients will flood the medical system as uninsured emergency patients, victims of medical illnesses stemming from damage from untreated depression and psychosis, and those desperately seeking the treatment they know will reduce their symptoms.

Don’t forget, these people vote too. People want to be well enough to work and take care of their families. They will not be happy with those who take away the medical treatments they so need.

JANET FEIGELSON, MD
Grand Junction


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