America’s Future Doctors: Less Qualified, Less Trained

by Christopher Paslay

Affirmative action policies and doctor shortages are prompting medical schools to accept less qualified students and shorten training.  

When it comes to healthcare, I don’t care what color the doctor is, as long as he or she is qualified and properly trained; Ben Carson, the world-renowned African American neurosurgeon from Detroit and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is a case in point.

I’d be willing to bet most Americans feel the same way.  There are those folks, however, who are obsessed with skin color and believe that everything should be balanced—even a profession as important as medicine.  In other words, racial quotas and percentages should dictate acceptance into America’s medical schools, not just ability or merit.

As Chris Mondie writes on American Thinker:

In examining documents made public by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), it becomes apparent that race plays a disturbingly large role in the medical student application process.  The documents provide data about the applicant pool from years 2009-2011 — namely, the number of applicants within a given GPA and MCAT score range, and how many of those applicants gained acceptance to a school.  These data, it turns out, are organized by race.

A quick scan of the documents reveals that white students applying to medical school with a GPA in the 3.40-3.59 range and with an MCAT score in the 21-23 range (a below-average score on a test with a maximal score of 45) had an 11.5% acceptance rate (total of 1,500 applicants meeting these criteria).  Meanwhile, a review of minority students (black, Latino, and Native American) with the same GPA and MCAT range had a 42.6% acceptance rate (total of 745 applicants meeting these criteria).  Thus, as a minority student with a GPA and MCAT in the aforementioned ranges, you are more than 30% more likely to gain acceptance to a medical school.

In other words, there are some individuals who are less qualified to be doctors yet are walking around with stethoscopes simply because of the color of their skin.  If this doesn’t make you nervous, consider the fact that some of America’s premier medical schools—like New York University—are considering shortening their training programs from four years to three in an effort to help students save money on tuition and better meet the growing shortage of doctors in America.  According to a recent story in the New York Times:

Not only, they say, will those doctors be able to hang out their shingles to practice earlier, but they will save a quarter of the cost of medical school — $49,560 a year in tuition and fees at N.Y.U., and even more when room, board, books, supplies and other expenses are added in. . . .

The deans say that getting students out the door more quickly will accomplish several goals. By speeding up production of physicians, they say, it could eventually dampen a looming doctor shortage, although the number of doctors would not increase unless the schools enrolled more students in the future.

Just what America’s healthcare system needs: cheaper, faster trained doctors who are proportionately representative of every color of the rainbow.  This ethnically diverse brand of doctor who is a graduate of a “fast-track” medical school will nicely complement the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama insists will save Americans hundreds of billions of dollars and increase the quality of healthcare.

Speaking of Obamacare, Americans for Tax Reform reported the following:

In a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, 18 Democrat senators and senators-elect have asked for “a delay in the implementation” of the Obamacare medical device tax.  Like most of the significant tax increases in Obamacare [there are 20 of them], the medical device tax is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013, conveniently after the 2012 presidential election.

Now even Democrats (who voted for it in the first place) are realizing the medical device tax will serve to hamper—not stimulate—America’s struggling economy.

There are, to be sure, infinitely more goodies to come from Obamacare, and the 1,500 new IRS agents that are being hired by the federal government just to figure out the new tax laws.

I hope I don’t get sick anytime soon.

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Come 2013, teachers will be hit with a wave of new taxes

by Christopher Paslay

Last Sunday marked the start of the 100-day countdown to “Taxmageddon”—the date the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect.

On January 1, 2013, the Bush tax cuts are set to expire, prompting many of my fellow teachers to say, Great!  Let the richest Americans finally start paying their fair share!  The only problem is, Bush’s tax cuts weren’t simply for the rich (as many Americans have been led to believe), but for all Americans at every tax bracket. 

According to Americans for Tax Reform:

Personal income tax rates will rise on January 1, 2013.  The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which the majority of small business profits are taxed).  The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent.  All the rates in between will also rise.  Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.  The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

-The 10% bracket rises to a new and expanded 15%

-The 25% bracket rises to 28%

-The 28% bracket rises to 31%

-The 33% bracket rises to 36%

-The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

As a Philadelphia school teacher at the top of the pay scale, this income tax increase means I will be taking home approximate $2,500 less in 2012 than I did in 2013 (to calculate your own income tax increase, multiple your current yearly salary by .03).  As if this weren’t bad enough, tax benefits for education and teaching will be reduced:

The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available.  Tax credits for education will be limited.  Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses.  Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut.  Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed.  The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.

This really stings, being that I spent over $12,000 on graduate school tuition this year (which I will no longer be able to deduct from my income taxes in 2013).  To make matters worse, all the money I spent on classroom materials in 2012—such as paper, posters, ink cartridges, CDs, DVDs, pens, markers, magazines, flash-drives, file folders, pencil sharpeners, in/out baskets, computer speakers, etc.—will no longer be able to be deducted from my tax returns. 

But there’s more.  Higher taxes on marriage and family are coming on January 1, 2013: 

The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of taxable income.  The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child.  The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.

The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” also comes online on January 1, 2013:

Imposes a cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited).  Indexed to inflation after 2013. There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education.  This Obamacare cap harms these families.

Curiously, a woman I teach with this semester is married, has a special needs son, and is in graduate school working on a Master’s in Education.  Between the rise in her income tax rate, the Special Needs Kids Tax, and the fact that she will no longer be able to write-off the tens of thousands of dollars she spends on tuition and classroom materials, her finances will be taking a real beating.

The rich may be paying more this January, but the middle class will be getting hammered as well.  Here are some other new tax hikes that will occur on January 1, 2013:

Middle Class Death Tax returns on January 1, 2013.  The death tax is currently 35% with an exemption of $5 million ($10 million for married couples).  For those dying on or after January 1 2013, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million.  A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.

Higher tax rates on savers and investors on January 1, 2013.  The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 23.8 percent in 2013.  The top dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 43.4 percent in 2013.  This is because of scheduled rate hikes plus Obamacare’s investment surtax.

There are twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare.  Some have already gone into effect (the tanning tax, the medicine cabinet tax, the HSA withdrawal tax, W-2 health insurance reporting, and the “economic substance doctrine”).  Several more will go into effect on January 1, 2013.  They include:

The Obamacare Medical Device Tax begins to be assessed on January 1, 2013.  Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. Exempts items retailing for <$100.

The Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike takes effect on January 1, 2013.  The Medicare payroll tax is currently 2.9 percent on all wages and self-employment profits.  Starting in 2013, wages and profits exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 in the case of married couples) will face a 3.8 percent rate.

The Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deductions goes into force on January 1, 2013.  Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only.

When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2013, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise—the AMT won’t be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired.  These tax increases will be in force for BOTH 2012 and 2013.  The major items include:

The AMT will ensnare over 31 million families, up from 4 million last year.  According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families—rising from 4 million last year to 31 million.  These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level.  The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Full business expensing will disappear.  In 2011, businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment.  Starting on 2013 tax returns, all of it will have to be “depreciated” (slowly deducted over many years).

Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses.  There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place.  The biggest is the loss of the “research and experimentation tax credit,” but there are many, many others.  Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.

Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed.  Under current law, a retired person with an IRA can contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA.  This contribution also counts toward an annual “required minimum distribution.”  This ability will no longer be there.