In a radio interview with LaVern Vivio on WDBL radio in Springfield on Tuesday, State Rep. Sabi ‘Doc’ Kumar, R-Springfield, said he wants to expand Medicaid and make forced savings payroll deductions mandatory.
During the interview, Kumar said he wants to introduce a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly that would require payroll deductions for savings. This, he said, because too many Americans don’t seem to want to to do it on their own initiative.
“Two-thirds of the American families have less than $1,000 in savings. So needing a set of new tires for the car becomes a problem. It becomes a threat to a family. The other part of that equation is that two-thirds of our teenagers have iPhones — while two-thirds of the families have less than $1,000 in savings. So we are spending money. We are not saving money. We are not saving for emergencies,” Kumar said.
“One concept that has happened in a few of the states is make it automatic that 3 percent of the salary is taken from working people and deposited in a Roth IRA for them so that they have automatic built-in savings. Now, this is a free country and that must mean freedom. So, any person can sign a piece of paper and opt out of it if they do not want to do it or if they have savings through another plan that they are using. But, the point is, we are all so lazy so a lot of them will allow those savings to pile up and it will be good for them.”
Kumar said the people managing these accounts will charge “negligible to minimum” costs.
“But it is a matter of encouraging a savings habit they do not do. This will be tax free. There is no taxation on it. It has to be organized. I’ve been talking to the treasurer for the state of Tennessee, talking to the Tennessee Bankers Association, talking to insurers,” he said.
“It will be a Roth IRA tax free that will generate automatic savings that belong to the people themselves. Yes, a person always has the option to opt out. But I hope people are too lazy to opt out so their savings can build.”
Kumar, however, said if his colleagues in the state legislature help enact his proposal into law then people may still access their savings accounts at any time without penalties or interests.
Kumar also discussed TennCare block grants, in which the federal government pays two-thirds of the cost of the Medicaid or TennCare program.
“It’s a very critical program, and, actually, we have about 1.2 million Tennesseans who depend on that, children especially and single parents. One situation there is that you can have a family, and if a mother gets married and there are two incomes. Their income levels put them slightly beyond the level at which they can have TennCare. So, in a way, it’s better for them to stay single,” Kumar said.
“It discourages marriage, and marriage and family are institutions we as a community as a state as a society should be supporting. That is injustice because people who are getting married are getting penalized. We should be encouraging marriage and togetherness rather than penalizing it by giving the TennCare away.”
Kumar went on to say this is “a temporary thing.”
“We are going to allow maybe six months to 12 months that would allow you to find a private sector situation so you have coverage so it’s not going to be a lifelong thing at all, and it should not be,” Kumar said.
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