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February 27, 2007

America Outdoors E-News

Forest Service Forum on Outdoor Recreation in Colorado This Week President Bush's Health Care Tax Hurts Family-Run, Small Business

Forest Service Forum on Outdoor
Recreation in Colorado This Week

  Young adults representing outdoor clubs and youth groups from the West will be helping to facilitate a daylong regional forum on outdoor recreation at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado on Thursday, March 1, 2007. This is the first of six recreation forums being convened across the country by the National Forest Foundation and the American Recreation Coalition, in cooperation with more than two dozen organizations and agencies. Organizers are expecting 350 people to attend.

The forum theme, "Turning Inside Out: New Doors to the Outdoors," focuses specifically on the West's changing demographics and the benefits young people gain from outdoor recreation. Recreation groups, tourism interests, sportsmen's organizations and many others will be talking about ideas for getting youth involved in the outdoors. Land management agencies will be on hand to listen so that they can incorporate these ideas into their programs. The other forums will be held in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Portland. Invited participants will present proceedings from the regional forums at a national forum in Washington D.C.

The Forest Service's 12-mule pack string will be on hand to show how they help many youth groups accomplish volunteer trail construction and resource improvement projects across the West (weather permitting).

What: "Turning Inside Out: New Doors to the Outdoors," Regional Recreation Forum
When: Thursday, March 1, 2007; 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th Street, Golden, Colorado.
RSVP: Mary Ann Chambers of the USFS at 303-275-5356. There will be a media room for interviews with speakers, participating youth, and the meeting's conveners. Contact Mary Ann Chambers to set appointments for interviews.
President Bush's Health Care Tax
Hurts Family-Run, Small Business
  President Bush's plan to tax health care benefits discriminates against older, self-employed Americans in family-run businesses, because they are likely to find their benefits taxed. The plan also discourages coverage for families. Small businesses usually constitute very small health care groups consisting of a handful of employees. The group's premiums are governed, in part, by the age of the employees, the size of the group and not solely by the lavishness of their coverage. Even with $1,000 deductibles and co-pays of 20%, a small business with two family members in their late fifties or early sixties or with family coverage will likely exceed the premium threshold of $15,000 and be forced to reduce coverage or pay more taxes in addition to co-pays and deductibles. The average premium for family coverage was $14,500 in 2006.

While there are some benefits for some groups, the Bush plan is estimated to hit small employers the hardest, reducing the number covered by 25% in firms with fewer than 10 workers, according to the Lewin Group (Lewin.com). The Plan would increase the budget deficit by $61.8 billion in the first year while increasing the number of insured by 9 million, according the Lewin Group analysis.

This plan is probably designed to help large corporations lower their health care costs under the guise of providing benefits to an incrementally small portion of the population. GM spent an estimated $5.6 billion on health care in 2005 and large U.S. corporations are losing their competitive edge in the global market place in part because of the cost of labor.

Allowing associations to establish large nationwide groups would be one solution for small businesses. But this legislation is opposed by many state regulators who want to retain their state by state regulation of health care insurance. There is no question that the health care system in America, while one of the best in the world, is pricing itself out of the market. However, taxing health care benefits and discouraging family coverage as proposed by President Bush, is not the answer.

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