This Is Where The Candidates Stand

Yesterday The Epoch Times posted a summary of the stands taken by President Trump and former Vice-President Biden on various issues. Please follow the link to the article to read it in its entirety, but here are a few examples:

Economy

Trump

    • Grant tax credits to companies that move manufacturing back to United States, tariffs on those that don’t.
    • Continue improving trade deals after USMCA, China Phase 1, South Korea, and Japan deals.
    • Continue to cut regulations for businesses.
    • Fund on-the-job training, apprenticeships.
    • Make major investment in infrastructure.
    • Launched “opportunity zones” program in 8,766 distressed areas, which, so far, have attracted $75 billion in private capital.
    • Build on becoming a net energy exporter.

Biden

    • Increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
    • Strengthen worker organizing, collective bargaining, and unions.
    • Make major investment in infrastructure focused on reducing carbon emissions.
    • Make racial equity part of the mandate of the Federal Reserve.
    • Will insist on strong and enforceable standards for labor, human rights, and the environment in any future trade agreements
    • Will ban anonymous shell companies, expand anti-money-laundering requirements, disclosure of beneficial ownership, and greater oversight of cross-border transactions.

Taxes

Trump

    • Signed tax cut legislation.
    • Cut capital gains tax to 15 percent.
    • Increased the estate tax basic exemption amount from $5 million to $10 million.
    • Proposes a cut to payroll tax.

Biden

    • Greatly increase capital gains tax to same rate as income tax.
    • Increase taxes by $4 trillion over 10 years, including raising taxes on people making over $400,000 a year.

Governance

Trump

    • Restore balance and vertical separation of powers between the federal and state governments.
    • Promote voter ID, urging all states to join program to keep voter rolls accurate.
    • Supports apportionment and redistricting based on Census count of all citizens, and not including illegal immigrants.
    • Appoint more federal judges.
    • Make Puerto Rico the 51st state; keep the District of Columbia as a district.
    • Pass congressional term limits.
    • Directed federal agencies to move out of D.C. to opportunity zones.

Biden

    • Make the District of Columbia the 51st state.
    • Supports removing the Confederate flag and statues of Confederate leaders from public properties.
    • Establish a national commission to examine slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and racially discriminatory federal policies on income, wealth, educational, health, and employment outcomes, and to study reparations.
    • Opposes Voter ID laws and supports automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, early voting, and universal vote-from-home and vote-by-mail options.
    • Supports apportionment and redistricting based on Census count of everyone, including illegal immigrants.
    • Supports requirement for all federal office candidates to disclose at least 10 years of tax returns.

Health Care

Trump

    • Rescinded the individual mandate in Affordable Care Act and supports repealing the entire act.
    • Protect those with pre-existing conditions.
    • Supports health care price transparency.
    • Stop “surprise billing” by banning out-of-network charges when the patient doesn’t have control over provider choice.
    • Drive down prescription drug prices. Allow purchases from abroad; cut out the middlemen who negotiate drug rebates; introduce “favored nation status” where Medicare pays the lowest drug price available globally.
    • Accelerated generic drug approval.
    • Signed the Right to Try bill.
    • Anti-abortion—curbed federal spending that even indirectly supported abortion.
    • Permanently expand telehealth through Medicare payments and preserve more rural hospitals through Medicare incentives.
    • Enabled short-term insurance up to a year and is expanding the use of health savings accounts.
    • Allowed employers to pay premiums for employees in individual market.
    • Allowed small businesses to band together to access insurance plans available to large employers.
    • Declared opioid crisis a national public health emergency and focused resources on supply, demand, and treatment.

Biden

    • Introduce “public option” health insurance plans run by the federal government.
    • Protect and expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    • Increase tax credits toward health coverage. Give the tax credits to higher-income people who currently aren’t eligible
    • Provide free health care to illegal aliens.
    • Expand Medicaid in states that rejected expansion offered by ACA.
    • Stop “surprise billing”—ban out-of-network charges when the patient doesn’t have control over provider choice.
    • Lower drug prices. Repeal law barring Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug corporations; government-set prices for new drugs with no competition; allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries.
    • Treat abortion as a constitutional right and restore federal funding to Planned Parenthood.
    • Double the federal funding to community health centers.
    • Target health care companies for antitrust violations.
    • Exclude drug ads from tax deductible costs for pharma companies.
    • Expand national and global vaccine programs.

These positions should be the basis of your decision on how you vote in November.

What A Great Idea!

Yesterday One America News posted an article about the use of robots to sanitize places and things to stop the spread of the virus.

The article reports:

A company from Argentina is using robots in the fight against the coronavirus. UVD Robotics has been testing a new product that can sanitize both spaces and objects with ultraviolet light.

On Friday, developers tested the robot on a bus, where it was able to clean seats, walls and floor using just UV light.

According to the World Health Organization, cleaning products with chemicals such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide traditionally are only 60 percent effective against germs. UV light reportedly eliminates bacteria 99 percent of the time.

“Ultraviolet light is a light that the sun emits naturally,” explained CEO Martin Gonzalez. “In this case, we use type ‘C,’ which is very high energy and works by destroying the DNA of bacteria, the RNA in the case of viruses, thus avoiding propagation or spread.”

He added the robot can also be used to protect health care workers, who are being exposed to bacteria in hospital rooms.

What a great idea! You don’t have to clean up chemicals, you don’t have to worry about inhaling fumes, and almost all of the germs are killed.

A Guest Post From Mark Jones, Chairman, Surry County Republican Party

America Needs to Go Back to Work

We have to put America back to work, and we have to do it sooner rather than later! President Trump’s instincts on this issue were right when he suggested a gradual, careful, and measured shift in parts of the Country. Most areas are mildly impacted with little strain on hospitals (which was the stated reason for the lockdowns in the first place). Putting America back to work is critical for so much more than our economy as it impacts our LIBERTIES, FREEDOMS, and our VERY WAY OF LIFE. THE CURE OF A TOO LONG LOCKDOWN WILL BE WORSE THAN THE DISEASE.

I have written multiple e-mails trying to put COVID-19 into perspective. I agree we MUST DO EVERYTHING we can to fight the disease and protect the elderly and vulnerable. Any loss of life is tragic, but I have used unequivocal data and research from several respected Universities to demonstrate that the death rate from the disease is being over-stated by the mainstream Media. Articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and additional articles by Stanford University Doctors support this and have been e-mailed and posted on the Surry GOP Facebook site. I’ll make them available to anyone who missed them.

The Media has scared the American people into believing we must destroy our American way of life, our freedoms, and our economy to save humanity from COVID-19. This is a lie. The Democrats, with help from the Media, are exploiting this crisis in an attempt to fill every socialist wish list on the planet including free “stuff” for everyone, on-line voting (to help them cheat), and TIGHT GOVERNMENT CONTROL OF EVERY ASPECT OF OUR LIVES (a socialist’s dream). The Democrats also want to hurt Trump who is set to face a very weak Democrat candidate (whether Biden, Cuomo, or someone else) this Fall. While the President is doing a good job under impossible circumstances against a hostile Media, Democrats continually try to exploit this disease to advance their Agenda rather than help America recover and go back to work. The longer panic-driven lockdowns occur, the more it plays into the Democrats’ hands, and the more Americans become used to their totalitarian philosophies.

To be fair, Republicans seem to have been scared and forgotten any concept of smart spending or concern about National deficits and debt. Many objective analyses of the so-called “Historic” and “Bipartisan” $2.2 Trillion Bill show that MUCH LESS than half of the Bill actually helps businesses or impacts COVID-19. The Senate, supposedly a “deliberative body”, sent it over to the House in a panic-driven rush. We were assured “it had to be done immediately”. Leaders in the U.S. House were in such a rush to pass the Bill they refused to debate or even record votes for and against. Wasteful and non-COVID spending in the Bill includes money for tens of millions of people still working along with funding for the Kennedy Center, Planned Parenthood, Unions, and National Public Radio. NO SENATOR OR HOUSE MEMBER SHOULD BE PROUD OF THAT BILL. Americans deserve better from our leaders. Our children already face monumental debt and will face inflation worsened by the Bill. Economics 101 tells us bad things happen when you borrow and print money and infuse it into a system where people cannot make products. Congress talks about passing another and more massive Bill as if it must happen. Over the long-term, our very way of life and economic survival is at stake. Will leaders encourage spending sanity?

If you dare to speak out against the crackdown on freedoms and the massive spending, the Media trots out statistics from the misrepresented death toll of this disease. They will be quick to tell you about the latest tragic death as if to suggest that anyone who suggests we are on the wrong track just doesn’t care. If hyped death tolls don’t suffice, they film Italian Hospitals and present the video as coming from New York (CBS did this and publicly admitted it as reported in the New York Post). When lies are exposed, they bury the retraction. They fail to provide perspective. The first two deaths in North Carolina occurred on a day when five people died of the flu. Did the Media tell you? Do they talk about the 99% with mild reactions to the disease?

A commonly used and 65-year old anti-malarial drug (Hydroxychloroquine) shows promise for severe cases and as protection for Health Care workers, but the Media only criticizes the President for giving false hope and calls the drug “unsafe”. Multiple Doctors have reported that thousands of people have been successfully treated for COVID-19 with the drug. Millions of people have safely taken this drug for Malaria and Lupus for decades, yet the Media seems almost afraid that it might work and be safe for COVID-19. Ask yourself why the Media almost gleefully reports the worst news possible and why they refuse to focus on the fact that WELL OVER 99% (remember tens of thousands of people have gone untested) OF INFECTED PEOPLE HAVE MILD COMPLICATIONS from this illness. Multiple scientific papers support this, were provided in prior messages, and are available upon request.

The same people telling us we need to lock down for months and not worry about our economy are the same people who criticized the President for closing travel from China. They are the same people who complained when the President closed travel from Europe and the same people who encouraged large gatherings for Chinese New Year in New York and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. They are the same people who favor open borders to allow illegal immigrants to become undocumented voters.

The United Nations is now calling for a 10% tax on every Country in the World to “fight COVID-19”. Henry Kissinger called for a “New World Order” in the Wall Street Journal. Many nations, and some American Democrats, have called for GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER of everything from businesses to banks in order “to fight COVID-19”. This is a dream-come-true for Socialists determined to advance their Agenda and SHOULD SCARE ALL MAINSTREAM AMERICANS more than the latest misrepresented death tolls from the Media. Never let a crisis go to waste! Fear will compel people to comply!

What the experts are not telling you is that their own models show severe lockdowns only DELAY THE EFFECTS of the disease until round two comes next winter. Multiple scientific papers show it and have been provided. Do we shut down America for months or even years? Do Doctors decide? That seems to be what the Media and Democrats favor – especially if they can force shut down through the Elections and force electronic or mail-in voting. Every time the President talks of finding creative ways to go back to work, the Media becomes frantic. HOW MUCH OF OUR FREEDOM AND OUR WAY OF LIFE WILL WE SACRIFICE FOR A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY? In addition to public health, we must also consider economic health and American Constitutional Liberties.

America must be smart enough to refuse to allow fear to rule our lives. Our Constitutional Rights and Liberties are what set us apart from the rest of the World. When President Trump suggested putting segments of our economy back to work, he was quickly attacked and told we could not do that. If “Essential Services” like grocery stores, gas stations, and hardware stores can remain open, can’t we figure out ways to open many other segments of our economy? How far will we allow the Media and fear to push us? As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”.

If you have had enough of the fear and panic driven by the mainstream Media, I encourage you to speak up. Write and call elected officials including Republicans in our State and National Legislature. Write and call to support President Trump and Vice President Pence. They are doing a great job against impossible opposition from many Democrats and many Media outlets. Refuse to let fear deprive you of what made America special in the first place. Think for yourself. Ask yourself if this is the Country our forefathers fought to defend. It is time the American people let our leaders know we don’t want to see our American liberties and our economy destroyed out of fear and panic. How many of our rights and liberties will we sacrifice? When do we put segments of American Society back to work? When do sensible and courageous political leaders step up?

 

How Certificate Of Need Laws Endanger Americans

The Federalist posted an article today about Certificate of Need (CON) laws and how they are hindering America’s response to the coronavirus.

The article reports:

During a Tuesday press conference, Cuomo lashed out at the federal government for not sending enough ventilators as the Wuhan coronavirus continues to rattle the state. “Four hundred ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators,” Cuomo said. “You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” The state is projecting it will need approximately 140,000 beds in 14 to 21 days, which is higher than its previous estimation of 110,000 beds by early to mid-May.

However, New York, along with 35 other states and the District of Columbia, have in place what are known as certificate-of-need (CON) laws. According to Reason, “Their stated purpose is to keep hospitals from overspending, and thus from having to charge higher prices to make up for unnecessary outlays of capital costs. But in practice, they mean hospitals must get a state agency’s permission before offering new services or installing a new medical technology. Depending on the state, everything from the number of hospital beds to the installation of a new MRI machine could be subject to CON review.”

The article notes the impact of CON laws on patient mortality rates:

In addition to causing a lack of proper equipment, these rules harm patients. According to a study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, states with CON laws have a 2.5 to 5 percent higher mortality rate than those without. Wait times have also been affected, with the average delay in New York City emergency rooms ranging from seven to 10 hours before the virus outbreak added strain to an already poorly operating medical system.

The article concludes:

Luckily, efforts to eradicate this onerous red tape have already begun, as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order suspending CON law enforcement in the state. Governors like Cuomo would be wise to follow suit and slash these burdensome regulations to allow for the expansion of new medical facilities and COVID-19 treatments.

More government control of our health-care industry is the exact opposite of what should be happening in Washington, D.C, and states around the country. Instead, lawmakers across the nation should be focusing on getting rid of these big-government barriers that make it more difficult for doctors and medical experts to treat patients. Letting the market solve its own problems is the answer to many of our problems in health care. The government needs to know when to step out of the way.

On March 23, I posted an article about how CON laws are impacting New Hampshire’s response to the coronavirus. Hopefully the problems caused by these laws during this health crisis will cause states to revisit them. Unfortunately, hospitals like the monopolies the laws give them and are willing to put forth massive lobbying efforts. Lawmakers need to rise above the politics and lobbyists and do what is best for the people they are supposed to represent.

When Regulations Interfere With Solutions

Yesterday The Union Leader, a New Hampshire newspaper, posted an article about the possible shortages of medical supplies and hospital beds during the coronavirus epidemic.

The article notes:

ACROSS the country, state leaders have raised the alarm over the lack of enough beds should the COVID-19 pandemic create a surge in serious and critical cases. They are concerned that they simply won’t have enough hospital beds to care for ill patients and are taking drastic steps to “flatten the curve” – spreading out the timeline of the disease so that the health care system can manage the influx of new cases.

This is just as true in New Hampshire as across the country. However, the prime reason we don’t have more hospital beds is not a lack of demand, but government regulation.

According to U.S. Census data, New Hampshire’s population has grown by 48% since the 1980 census. However, the last new hospital to open in the Granite State did so in 1983.

The reason why our state hasn’t built more hospitals since then isn’t lack of demand. With a growing and aging population, our health care needs have gone up, not down.

The answer why we haven’t seen more hospitals and, thus, more hospital beds is because of government regulations that were intentionally designed to limit competition and choice. Sadly, these regulations have been effective in achieving those goals.

For many years, the prime culprit from new hospital development was the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) board. For someone to get a license to build a new hospital, they would have to go before this board and hope to get a government permission slip to have the opportunity to begin. Unsurprisingly, the CON board became a protection racket for the state’s existing hospitals to stop new development.

Thanks to the work of Americans for Prosperity activists and critical policy champions like Senator John Reagan and former Representative Marilinda Garcia, New Hampshire was able to put an end to the CON board in 2016.

The article cites some other regulations that limit the number of hospital beds:

One regulation forces anyone who wants to open a hospital to have a 24 hour per day, seven day per week emergency department. Given that emergency departments are the most expensive and toughest to staff part of any hospital, this is a huge barrier to opening a new facility.

And, like most cronyism, existing hospitals made sure this requirement doesn’t apply to any hospital that had its license before the law was passed.

Another regulation forces any new hospital to take reimbursement from all payers, regardless of whether doing so makes sense for that hospital’s business model. Across the country, cash-only facilities are thriving, providing lower cost alternatives to patients. But, under state law, they can’t operate in the Granite State.

Finally, one state regulation provides for a 15-mile radius monopoly zone around smaller hospitals in more rural areas. This guarantees that anyone outside of the southeastern part of New Hampshire will never see another hospital being built in their community, or anywhere near them.

While changing these laws won’t help us fight the COVID-19 virus, it’s high time the state legislature begins to remove these barriers to help us deal with the next pandemic. Our public health infrastructure has been unnecessarily hobbled, not by disease, but by special interests.

North Carolina is one of the states with Certificate of Need (CON) laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 35 states and Washington, D.C. operate a CON program with wide variation state-to-state. I suspect that number is high–they may be including laws that are not technically CON laws. At any rate, North Carolina has been trying to repeal its CON law for a number of years. CON laws interfere with the free market and artificially inflate medical costs by creating monopolies. One way to lower medical costs without sacrificing quality of care would be to remove CON laws. However, hospitals like their monopolies.

The Silver Lining?

I’m not ready to say that there is a silver lining to the coronavirus, but I will admit that there are lessons we can learn from it. The American Thinker posted an article today listing some of the lessons that can be learned from our experience with the coronavirus.

The article notes:

Businesses now see that their precious supply chains and just-in-time inventory models are laden with risk.  Also, the American public and even our brain-dead political class are now aware of the folly of being dependent on China for so much of our essential goods, especially prescription medicines and health care products.  Both these factors will accelerate the relocation of U.S. businesses out of communist China….

In January, President Trump restricted people coming in from China.  He was called this and that for that action, but now it can be seen that the president was both prudent and foresighted.  That is what leadership looks like.  Europe currently has a greater problem with the Wuhan Virus because it did not act in a similar fashion.  The Democrats and media will never give Trump credit for this, but the average person sees it, thus discrediting both the media and Democrats even more.  Plus it drives home the point once again that borders are vital to a nation’s security and well-being.

And speaking of the Europeans, they are in high dudgeon because on Thursday night, President Trump announced that the United States will suspend travel from 26 European countries into the U.S. for the next 30 days starting Friday, March 13.  Europe is complaining that it wasn’t consulted on the travel ban ahead of time.  But to consult with the Europeans would be to give them an opportunity to delay the ban when time is of the essence — or, even worse, to undermine it.  

I guess some lessons have to be learned the hard way.

A Balanced Approach To The Coronavirus

On Friday, Townhall posted an article by Guy Benson about the coronavirus.

The article includes a number of tweets by Scott Gottlieb, MD, that provide some perspective on the coronavirus.

This is the content of the tweets:

1. Your risk of contracting in the U.S. is still low. While it may be spreading, there are likely still a small number of cases. This could change, but it is likely the case right now.

2. We have capacity to contain small outbreaks, and, where we can’t, mitigate impact of spread. We have best public health system in the world, best infection control procedures, a vast healthcare system with substantial capacity, well equipped hospitals, and skilled providers.

3. The development of vaccines and therapeutics is actively underway and, in time, we could have a treatment or preventative medicine that could substantially lessen the impact of this virus.

4. This could be a long fight that will require shared sacrifice. There may not be a start and finish to the spread of this virus. It may become something that we need to manage for a period of time until we can develop a therapeutic backstop.

5. The best thing Americans can do is be vigilant, take responsible precautions, and follow the advice of our great public health professionals at CDC and local health authorities.

The doctor concludes:

We have faced many infectious threats in our history. This one is sinister, but we have never been better equipped to mitigate its impact. We will preserve life, and prevail.

We don’t know what the future holds in terms of this illness. We do know that steps are being taken to prevent an epidemic. We know that we have extremely good health care in America. It is time to take seriously the advice to wash our hands and cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze. In the end, God is in control, and He will see us through this.

The Obvious Is Sometimes Overlooked

On Friday, Frank Gaffney, Jr., posted an article at the Center for Security Policy about America’s dependence on China for the manufacturing of drugs.

The article reports:

Communist China has been waging “unrestricted warfare” against this country for decades. One of its most devastating lines of attack in that war has been the hollowing out of America’s industrial base. 

A stupefying case in point is the Chinese Communist Party’s success in destroying our nation’s capacity to manufacture prescription drugs – to the point where we are virtually completely dependent on China for our medicines. 

A recent poll of likely voters found that 83% were concerned about such a dependency. 76% worried that China may cut off the supply, devastating our health care system and people.

Rosemary Gibson, the co-author of China Rx, has warned about such a scenario for years. Now, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, it is upon us. We need immediately to heed Ms. Gibson’s call urgently to reconstitute an America First drug manufacturing capability.

We have achieved energy independence which has increased our influence around the world. Now it is time to achieve drug independence.

 

This Shouldn’t Happen In A Civilized Society

On Friday, The Federalist posted an article about The Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act.

The article reports:

The Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act is not about restricting abortions but about giving newborns a chance to survive no matter where they are born, said Sen. Ben Sasse, the bill’s lead co-sponsor, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.

During the hearing, called “The Infant Patient: Ensuring Appropriate Medical Care for Children Born Alive,” Republican senators questioned why a baby born in a hospital should be treated differently than a baby born in an abortion facility. Democrats, lacking an answer, changed the subject.

Thirteen committee senators heard from five female witnesses, three who shared powerful testimony and two who expressed concerns about the bill.

The article includes the testimony of some of witnesses. Three of the witnesses who were involved in the medical profession related some of the incidents where babies were tossed aside after being born alive during an abortion.

The article also includes the testimony of those who opposed the bill.

The article reports:

Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of National Women’s Law Center, argued instead that, “Access to reproductive health care, including abortion, is a key part to an individual’s liberty, equality, and economic security.” Since 2010, state lawmakers have passed more than 450 abortion restrictions designed to block access to abortion, she said.

Sasse tried to clarify numerous times that this legislation was not about abortion but about what happens after an abortion. Neither Graves nor the Democratic senators in the room agreed. Graves said she believes the bill is on a continuum of restrictive abortion measures. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, agreed, saying that women’s health is under attack every day, especially under Trump, and that this bill is the latest in a decades-long threat against abortion.

Instead of arguing for or against protecting infants born alive, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., argued U.S. health care is biased against African-American women. Instead of fighting for legislation that protects infants born alive, Harris argued we should make taxpayers provide better housing and food for pregnant women.

While Harris might be right that pregnant women need more support, this is not the question at hand. Right now, if a doctor neglected to provide a pregnant woman needed care, he would be prosecuted. This is not true for the child in her womb. Instead of addressing this disparity, Harris simply changed the subject.

Abortion is a million-dollar business. It is also an industry that makes large donations through Political Action Committees (PAC’s) to Democrat campaigns. We are not likely to see Democrats vote against abortion and risk those campaign donations.

Respecting The Tenth Amendment

The Tenth Amendment states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

To say that we have wandered from this principle is the equivalent of saying that there is some sand in the Sahara Desert. President Trump is slowly trying to put in place policies that will allow the states to reclaim at least part of the authority they were originally given under the constitution. Yesterday One America News posted an article about plans being looked at to change the way Medicaid is funded.

The article reports:

According to a Wall Street Journal report, President Trump is expected to release guidance that would make it easier for states to apply for block grants in the coming weeks.

The way these block grants work is that each state that applies for the program would receive a capped chunk of federal money to spend on Medicaid, however they choose. If a state spends less than what is given, they are able to keep that money for themselves.

Thus, the measure motivates state governments to make cuts on Medicaid as well as relinquish the federal government’s requirement to match what states spend on the issue. Many local lawmakers have reportedly praised the new tactic as financially responsible.

“We don’t need to put welfare in the Constitution to meet the needs of the most vulnerable,” said Jonathan Small, member of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. “It will cost $374 million in state taxpayer dollars, to cover 628,000 able bodied adults.”

Conservatives argue another perk is that Medicaid block grants are more efficient at the end of the day.

“Officials say it could improve the way Medicaid is administered since states can tailor their health care program to their citizens needs,” stated Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. “Ultimately what that means is that the cost of healthcare will be lowered if states line up to be more efficient because they’ll be rewarded for such, then it will lower the cost of healthcare which is why it will be a win for the country.”

Hopefully bringing Medicaid back to state control would also cut down on the fraud that is so rampant in the program. Needless to say, Democrats oppose the move.

A Small Step Forward For Americans Filling Prescriptions

Ed Morrissey posted an article at Hot Air today about the new initiative rolled out by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

The article reports:

Democrats ate the GOP’s lunch on health-care messaging in 2018’s midterms. The Trump administration might be preparing better for the 2020 election. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar rolled out a new initiative today that would allow for prescription purchases from Canada, addressing a key Democratic talking point on the cost of health care:

“President Trump has been clear: for too long American patients have been paying exorbitantly high prices for prescription drugs that are made available to other countries at lower prices. When we released the President’s drug pricing blueprint – PDF for putting American patients first, we said we are open to all potential solutions to combat high drug prices that protect patient safety, are effective at delivering lower prices, and respect choice, innovation and access,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “Today’s announcement outlines the pathways the Administration intends to explore to allow safe importation of certain prescription drugs to lower prices and reduce out of pocket costs for American patients. This is the next important step in the Administration’s work to end foreign freeloading and put American patients first.”

The article lists some of the details of the plan. Please follow the link above for more information.

The article also lists some of the problems with the plan:

The question of pharmaceutical importation has its complexities, and it might not be a great idea in terms of long-term policy outcomes. For one thing, drug prices in Canada are artificially low thanks to intervention by the Canadian government, which will be tougher to maintain if demand increases exponentially via re-importation into the US. (Canadians in particular might not be very happy about what happens to their drug prices.) It doesn’t solve the major problems in pharmaceutical production costs, which are consolidation in the industry, copyright issues, and bureaucratic delays in FDA approvals, among others. It’s a Band-Aid over a gaping wound.

However, it’s going to be a very popular Band-Aid in the short run. The new HHS effort also lends itself to a slow rollout, which will play right into Trump’s need to pre-empt Democrats on health care in this cycle…

The article takes a rather cynical view regarding the motive for this action, but at least temporarily many Americans will appreciate the savings. On a personal note, one of the maintenance drugs my husband takes for heart problems sells for $600 a month. With the help of our health insurance, we have managed to get that price down to $70 a month, but the idea of having to pay $600 a month out-of-pocket for a drug is more than a little frightening.

This is a small step in the right direction. I understand that high drug prices are the result of the procedures for the invention, development, and selling of a new drug, but Americans shouldn’t have to pay for all of the research while other people reap the rewards of that research without paying for it.

Trying To Get It Right

Dale Folwell is the State Treasurer of North Carolina. He was responsible for getting the state out of debt to the federal government unemployment benefits program (over the objections of many Democrats) and is now working to bring transparency to health benefits for state workers (again over the objections of Democrats and some Republicans).

The Carolina Journal reported on June 17th that Mr. Folwell is actually  making some progress.

The article reports:

With a deadline just 13 days away, Community Care Physician Network, North Carolina’s largest network of independent physician clinics, announced Monday, June 17, it signed on to the State Health Plan’s cost-cutting Clear Pricing Project.

Community Care Physician Network is associated with 2,500 primary care clinicians, pediatricians, family medicine physicians, obstetricians/gynecologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. The group has more than 880 practices statewide. The network treats more than 2.5 million North Carolinians, including 700,000 Medicaid beneficiaries.

“Their physicians are leaders in our state in developing the highly regarded medical home model. They’re known nationwide for high quality care, patient satisfaction and by using their innovative, collaborative approach to drive down costs,” Folwell said in a news release announcing the move.

Folwell says health care costs must be reduced immediately. The State Health Plan is only 3% funded, has $35 billion in unfunded liabilities, and will become insolvent in 2023. The Treasurer’s Office projects taxpayers could save $258 million and plan members $57 million annually under the Clear Pricing Project. The changes take place in 2020. Providers have until June 30 to join the project.

“It made good sense to us,” Conrad Flick, Community Care Physician Network co-president, said of linking with the reconstructed plan. “We’re dedicated to our communities and our patients, and focused on providing them with better and more cost-effective health care.”

The article concludes:

The N.C. Healthcare Association, the lobbying arm of hospitals and large health systems, continues to oppose Folwell’s plan. The group pushed for passage of House Bill 184 to halt the reforms and launch a two-year study instead. The House passed the measure, but it has gotten no traction in the Senate.

Hospitals say the cost-cutting features of Folwell’s plan jeopardize the survival of rural hospitals. Folwell said most rural hospitals will be better off financially under the plan, and nine of 10 primary care physicians will get more money.

Montana is among a handful of states that use the reference-based pricing model for their state health plans. Officials there told Carolina Journalthe results are positive.

Dale Folwell is attempting to bring the same sort of fiscal sanity to healthcare in North Carolina that he brought to unemployment benefits. Let’s hope that he is successful.

We Need To Get Healthcare Right

Yesterday Issues and Insights posted an article about ObamaCare 10 years out.

The article reports:

Based on polling data, Obamacare has been a miserable failure, and Obama will be far from the last president to grapple with this issue.

The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that health care is at the top of the nation’s priority list, with 24 percent of respondents listing it as their top priority for the federal government. Next on the list is immigration, at 18 percent, and after that, economic growth at 14 percent. 

The poll also found that 42 percent list health care as either their first or second choice on the priority list.

Back in June 2008, when Obama was running for president, only 8 percent rated health care as a top priority, just 20 percent as their first or second priority. Of course, the economy was in a recession and the country at war with Iraq, both of which weighed heavily on the public’s mind at the time.

But even in earlier years when the economy was doing well, health care ranked far lower on the list of priorities than it does today. In June 2006, only 14 percent ranked it as No. 1 on their list. A year later, 15 percent said it was their top priority.

The public has not been impressed with ObamaCare:

An ongoing Gallup survey finds that the public was actually more satisfied with their own coverage and quality of health care in 2007 than they were in 2018. Other surveys find cost remains a major complaint.

The article lists a few problems with ObamaCare:

It has done nothing to slow, much less reverse, the rising cost of health care. In fact, Obamacare itself caused premiums in the individual market to more than double in its first four years.

…National health spending, which was 16.3 percent of GDP in 2008, is now 17.9 percent and is slated to hit 19.4 percent by 2027. Per-capita spending on healthcare jumped from $7,898 to $10,739 over those years.

Far from driving the deficit down, Obamacare is pushing federal red ink up. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that repealing Obamacare would cut the deficit by some $473 billion in the first 10 years

Rather than admit failure, the Democrats simply want to throw more money at it.

The article concludes:

Naturally, because of these failures, the Democrats’ answer is to dump even more taxpayer money into government-run health care programs, with most now favoring a $32 trillion plan developed by socialist Bernie Sanders to have the government nationalize the entire health insurance industry.

Only in government, and only among fans of big government, are massive failures like Obamacare rewarded with still more government. 

Bad Day at Black Rock

Below is a guest post by Raynor James, an eastern North Carolina resident who has followed the debate on North Carolina House Bill 184 very closely:

Tuesday, April 3rd was a sad day in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Let me tell you about it. Dale Folwell is North Carolina’s Treasurer. He’s a very popular fellow for all the right reasons. He did a good job when he served in the North Carolina General Assembly. He got North Carolina’s unemployment insurance out of debt to the Federal Government when he served in Governor McCrory’s administration, an accomplishment that continues to save North Carolina’s employers significant sums annually. He’s known as a problem solver.

North Carolina’s State Health Plan (which pays for medical expenses of current and retired state employees) is seriously underfunded and is projected to be bankrupt by the year 2023.When Dale Folwell was elected Treasurer, many who voted for him expected him to solve the Plan’s problems as its administration was in the Treasurer’s portfolio.

Enter HB-184 which if implemented will tie the Treasurer’s hands and not allow corrective action to be taken while a committee studies the situation.

HB-184 was debated on the floor of the House April 3rd. Let’s look in on how some conservative House members tried to kill the bill.

First, Representative Michael Speciale offered two amendments to the bill. Representative Speciale’s first amendment would give the Treasurer a vote on the study committee and would make it impossible to expand the size of the committee (something that is sometimes done when the “powers that be”don’t like the direction a committee seems to be taking).

That amendment passed by a vote of 106 to 5.

Representative Speciale’s second amendment would remove Section 2 from the bill. Section 2 requires that Blue Cross-Blue Shield continue to be used during the study period.

It also prevents the Treasurer from switching the Plan to using referenced based pricing for medical services to the Plan during the study period.That amendment failed by a vote of 88 to 23.

During debate on HB-184 itself, Representative Larry Pittman cited a memo from the Plan’s Board of Trustees that projects that the plan will be out of money in 2023, and said that we can’t wait on a two year study. He talked about how hospital groups were groaning about how burdensome the Treasurer’s planed payment changes would be on them [tie pricing of medical services to 172% of the average Medicare pays for the same service], and pointed out how well funded many hospitals are. In support of his assertion, Representative Pittman mentioned that the hospital at East Carolina has given $10 million dollars to fund a stadium.

Representative Pittman asked that members not pass the bill and added that when Treasurer Folwell had requested info from the hospital groups, they had sent him the schedules he asked for with page after page blacked out. “They might as well have slapped him in the face and spit on him,” Representative Pittman said.

He continued by saying passage of the bill would hurt both members of the Plan and taxpayers who pay the freight and pointed out that members of the Plan are also taxpayers, so they get hit two ways.

He stated that Dale Folwell is “competent” and “honest” and renewed his request by saying, “Defeat this bill.” Representative Michael Speciale said, “We’re told that if we don’t pass this bill, the sky will fall; we’ll lose our rural hospitals.” He went on to say that they’d heard the same thing when he was trying to get rid of the CON [Certificate of Need] laws [which did not pass] and shortly thereafter they closed one of the hospitals in my district.”

“I hear fake news ads” [on the topic of rural hospitals closing if HB-184 doesn’t pass] when I drive in my district.”

Representative Speciale went on to say that Dale Folwell got the people together who are opposing him [mainly large hospital groups] and asked how much waste, fraud, and abuse there is in the system. The answers they give him ran from 12% to 25%, so he took a middle number and asked them to figure out how they could reduce costs by 15% and said that they needed to get together again as soon as that was done.

After that meeting, Treasurer Folwell tried to set follow up meetings, and time after time he was stonewalled.

Representative Speciale continued, “Now we’re faced with $33 to $36 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities. If we don’t allow him to cut costs, how are we going to cut costs because it’ll be on us!”

“Dale Folwell has increased what would be going into rural hospitals. He’s compromised, but they won’t budge an inch.If we do not pass this bill, then the hospital lobby will sit down and talk to him. Let the state Treasurer do what he was elected to do. Throw the politics aside and vote NO!

Representative Keith Kidwell said, “For the last 10 years, health care costs have gone up and up. We asked Treasurer Folwell to handle it. Let’s not bobble him,or we’ll be faced with taking $235 million to $509 million [dollars] from the general fund to deal with the problem AND $1.1 billion will be added to the unfunded liability.”

“HB-184 will cost us a ton of money!” “Cut through partisanship and look at the numbers! We HAVE to block this bill!’

In spite of those eloquent pleas and others, too, HB-184 passed 75 to 36, and it will now be sent to the North Carolina Senate where it is hoped that wiser voices will prevail.

If you’d like to hear the whole debate, you can go to the NC General Assembly website at which NC House sessions are archived.

Thank you, Raynor. This is a picture of what is going on in the North Carolina state legislature. President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. What we see here is the result of intense lobbying by the healthcare-industrial complex. We need to stop this bill.

Good News On Healthcare

The Daily Signal posted an article today about President Trump’s plan to reform healthcare (which obviously starts with the removal of ObamaCare).

The article reports:

A look at his fiscal year 2020 budget shows that the president has a plan to reduce costs and increase health care choices. His plan would achieve this by redirecting federal premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion money into grants to states. States would be required to use the money to establish consumer-centered programs that make health insurance affordable regardless of income or medical condition.

The president’s proposal is buttressed by a growing body of evidence that relaxing federal regulations and freeing the states to innovate makes health care more affordable for families and small businesses.

Ed Haislmaier and I last year published an analysis of waivers that have so far enabled seven states to significantly reduce individual health insurance premiums. These states fund “invisible high risk pools” and reinsurance arrangements largely by repurposing federal money that would otherwise have been spent on Obamacare premium subsidies, directing them instead to those in greatest medical need.

By financing care for those with the biggest medical bills, these states have substantially reduced premiums for individual policies. Before Maryland obtained its waiver, insurers in the state filed requests for 2019 premium hikes averaging 30 percent. After the federal government approved the waiver, final 2019 premiums averaged 13 percent lower than in 2018—a 43 percent swing.

The article explains that the President’s plan is similar to another proposed plan:

It closely parallels the Health Care Choices Proposal, the product of ongoing work by national and state think tanks, grassroots organizations, policy analysts, and others in the conservative community. A study by the Center for Health and the Economy, commissioned by The Heritage Foundation, found that the proposal would reduce premiums for individual health insurance by up to 32 percent and cover virtually the same number of people as under Obamacare.

It also would give consumers more freedom to choose the coverage they think best for themselves and their families. Unlike current law, states could include direct primary care; health-sharing ministries; short-term, limited-duration plans; and other arrangements among the options available through their programs.

Those expanded choices would extend to low-income people. The proposal would require states to let those receiving assistance through the block grants, Medicaid, and other public assistance programs apply the value of their subsidy to the plan of their choice, instead of being herded into government-contracted health maintenance organizations.

We can do better at healthcare. Either one of these proposals would be a great start.

The Real Numbers

On Friday The Daily Signal posted an article about the consequences of winding down ObamaCare. It seems that the press and the Congressional Budget Office lied to Americans about the consequences of repealing ObamaCare.

The article reports:

According to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office wildly overestimated the number of people who would lose their health insurance with the repeal of the individual mandate penalty.

Initial estimates from the Congressional Budget Office said 14 million would drop off their health insurance coverage due to the elimination of the individual mandate. Then, during the height of the 2017 debate over repeal, progressives touted a leaked number from the Congressional Budget Office claiming that 22 million people would “lose” their insurance if Congress repealed the law.

However, as health care analyst Avik Roy pointed out, what made this number so high was the inflated number of people expected to lose their insurance due to repeal of the mandate—about 73 percent to be exact. So, it wouldn’t be 22 million Americans losing their insurance. Most of those in the projection would simply be choosing to opt out of insurance.

And it turns out even that wasn’t true. A far smaller number of Americans appear to be opting out of insurance since the individual mandate’s repeal. Only 2.5 million more people are expected to go without insurance in 2019 due to its repeal, according to the latest report, and that number is expected to decline in the years ahead.

Putting the government in charge of healthcare is always a bad idea. Economist Milton Friedman once stated, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.” The government is not responsible for providing healthcare to anyone. Charitable hospitals and charitable organizations are welcome to take on that responsibility, but government healthcare is nowhere to be found in the U.S. Constitution.

The article further states:

Doug Badger, a visiting fellow in domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that Congressional Budget Office analysis has been a chronic problem.

“When it comes to the individual mandate, CBO has never let the facts affect their wildly inaccurate estimates. CBO continued to forecast that millions of insured Americans would suddenly become uninsured if the mandate were repealed,” Badger wrote in an email to The Daily Signal. “CBO’s faulty estimates misled the public into believing that repealing Obamacare would lead to a vast increase in the number of uninsured. Bad estimates produced bad policy.”

Many conservatives are fed up with the deference shown to the agency, given it’s poor track record and track of transparency. Reps. Mark Walker, R-N.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, suggested in 2017 that it’s time to stop “blindly” following the agency’s predictions.

“The value of having outside experts review legislation cannot be understated,” they wrote for the Washington Examiner. “But continuing to hinge congressional actions on the projections of an agency that has proven to be so consistently wrong does a disservice to not only members trying to represent their constituents, it primarily does a disservice to the public.”

I wrote in 2017 that perhaps we should be more skeptical toward the findings of independent agencies like the Congressional Budget Office. It seems those doubts were valid.

People based their votes on the information they were given. It is a shame that a government agency provided inaccurate information.

Have We Passed The Point Of Being Able To Have A Serious Discussion Of Issues?

On Friday, The Daily Signal posted an article that provides some background information on Stacey Abrams.

These are some basic facts about Ms. Abrams listed in the article:

1. She ‘Wouldn’t Oppose’ Noncitizen Voting  –  she did support the idea of non-citizens voting to local elections, but the fact remains that people who are here illegally are breaking the law and should not have voting rights.

2. She Wants to Turn Georgia Blue – that’s not all that unusual, but her approach in somewhat interesting.

3. She Wants to Promote ‘Race and Gender’ Issues – has anyone else noticed that promoting race and gender issues divides us rather than unites us?

4. She Was Endorsed by Planned Parenthood – just for the record, Planned Parenthood receives on average approximately $500 million a year in taxpayer funds. How much of that money is essentially laundered and spent on campaign contributions?

5. She Is ‘Sick and Tired’ of Free Market Role in Health Care – actually health care worked very well until the government got involved – people were taken care of and the cost was not prohibitive.

6. She Says ‘Liberal’ Is a Good Word – that is her privilege.

7. She Says the AR-15 Doesn’t Belong in Civilian Hands – Don’t look for her to support the Second Amendment.

And finally:

8. She Is a ‘Romance’ Novelist – she writes sexually explicit romance novels under the name of Selena Montgomery.

The comments in bold type are from the article. Other comments are mine.

This is the person the Democrats have chosen to respond to the State of the Union address.

This Really Shouldn’t Be A Surprise

A few years ago, I moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina. There was some culture shock. One part of that shock was the gun culture of some of the South. I grew up in a house where no one hunted, so the whole gun thing was very foreign to me. One of the first things I did was to take a gun safety course to education myself. I learned a lot and began to understand why the Second Amendment is so important to our freedom. Unfortunately the leaders in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have not yet gotten that message.

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted the following headline, “Boston Mayor’s Office to Force Doctors to Identify and Document Patients Who Own Guns.” Wow. What is the Mayor’s office doing collecting information from doctors?

The article reports:

Here are three of the top goals for health care legislation outlined by his office:

Involving doctors in gun safety: This act would require medical professionals to ask patients about guns in the home, and bring up the topics of gun safety. The goal, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said, is to identify those at risk for domestic violence, suicide or child access to guns in order to guide people to mental health counseling, resources or other help. “We’re just asking them to help identify ways to save lives,” Gross said.

The fact that a patient owns guns would not be put in their medical record, and is not intended to have physicians help solve crimes.

Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez said that while the program is already common practice at many of the city’s community health centers, legislation would broaden the program statewide.

Does anyone actually believe that gun ownership would not be made part of a patient’s medical record? If the measure is supposed to save lives, what action are the doctors supposed to take after they have determined that a person has guns in the house?

I may be paranoid, but this seems like a back door approach to finding out who has guns so that the guns might be taken away later.

My, How Times Change

Remember when the Democrats told us that ObamaCare was not a step in the direction of government-controlled single-payer healthcare? Well, that statement is now inoperative.

The Washington Examiner reported the following yesterday:

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., has asked the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the effects of shifting all healthcare costs onto the federal government, a first step toward the “Medicare for all” legislation sought by progressives.

…Yarmuth said in a statement that his request for the score is aimed to inform House hearings on “single payer,” proposals. Such hearings would be the first step in the process toward passing legislation enacting single payer systems, a top goal pursued by progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

The article concludes:

The study concluded that overall spending, not just government spending, would be $2 trillion less compared to where spending is projected under the current healthcare system, but that would come mostly through cutting payments that hospitals and other providers were getting from private insurance by about 40 percent. Higher taxes may be under consideration to have Medicare payments align more closely with those of private insurers.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., had asked CBO to score the Medicare for All Act introduced by Sanders. In taking up various requests, CBO analysts tend to focus on bills that are closer to passage.

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you have seen this quote before, but here it is again:

Milton Friedman, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

Britain has single-payer health care. In March 2017, The Daily Wire posted an article about the problems with the British health care system.

These are some of the highlights from the article:

“Pressure on all services is rising and care is increasingly being rationed. Waiting lists should not be rising, and yet they are,” said Mark Porter, council chair of the British Medical Association (BMA).

“Doctors always want to deliver the best possible care for our patients, but we can’t continuously plug gaps by penny pinching and poaching from elsewhere in an overstretched NHS.”

…A study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concluded that around 750 patients a month – one in 28 – pass away due to subpar quality of care, which includes “inattentive monitoring of the patient’s condition, doctors making the wrong diagnosis, or patients being prescribed the wrong medicine.” In other words, patients needlessly die as a result of the incompetence of the NHS.

For example, in January an elderly woman died from cardiac arrest after waiting 35 hours on a trolley because there was a shortage in hospital beds. A 73-year-old man also died from an aneurysm in the same hospital as he languished in the waiting room.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. Note that single-payer health care is government-controlled. Do you really want the government controlling your health care?

Six Major Challenges In 2019

On December 28th, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial listing what their editors considered would be the top six issues of 2019. The title of the editorial is, “Will 2019 Be Happy? It Depends On How Washington Handles These 6 Challenges.” I suspect that is true.

The editorial lists the six items:

1. The Federal Reserve

2. Trade

3. Immigration

4. The Coming Budget Battle

5. Slaying The Regulatory Dragon

6. Fixing Health Care ‘Reform’

Here are some of the observations from the editorial on each item:

The Fed has raised its benchmark funds rate eight times over two years in pursuit of a “neutral” rate. Its most recent rate hike, coming about a week before Christmas, was followed by a steep decline in stocks and growing concerns that the economy might fall into recession next year if the central bank follows through on its plan to raise rates at least twice more.

It’s of more than academic interest that all 11 of the U.S. recessions since World War II were preceded by a sharp run up in Fed rates. Every one of them. It’s not a record of which to be proud.

…Despite bitter criticisms, President Trump successfully concluded a “new Nafta” deal with both Canada and Mexico covering $1.3 trillion in trade. The deal closes a number of holes in the old Nafta, increasing U.S. access to Canadian dairy markets, for instance, while also making cars tariff-free if 75% of their parts are made in the U.S., Canada or Mexico. All three countries signed off on the deal. The only question is, will it ever go into effect?

With Democrats controlling Congress and just six months for the trade deal to go into effect, some worry that major changes will be requested. President Trump has asked that either the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement be approved outright, or revert to the pre-Nafta trading rules. Congressional Democrats may even challenge Trump’s right to make a deal, putting the so-called USMCA in limbo. Stay tuned.

…With Americans eager to control immigration, as polls repeatedly show, Democrats may decide that negotiation rather than confrontation is a better tactic. That could mean a deal for a pathway to citizenship for the millennial illegal immigrant “dreamers,” many of whom have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives despite not having citizenship. With an estimated 22 million illegals in the U.S., many states are eager to gain some stability in our immigration policy.

…This year’s budget battle over funding the wall will likely pale in comparison to next year’s. The continued growth in entitlements, compounded by the sharp rise in interest payments, thanks to the Fed’s rate hikes, will balloon the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office’s last official projection pegged the deficit for 2019 at $981 billion. It will likely end up topping $1 trillion.

…But as we’ve pointed out many times, the problem isn’t tax cuts, it’s the unwillingness of anyone in Washington — including Trump — to deal with entitlement programs that have swamped the federal budget. Trump and the GOP will have to stand firm on taxes next year, while grappling with a rising tide of debt that will soon surpass $21 trillion.

…ObamaCare limped along for another year, with premiums for 2019 falling, overall, after years of massive double-digit increases. Trump took several steps to improve ObamaCare. The most important fix was to breathe life back into the short-term insurance market that President Obama tried to snuff out to protect the ObamaCare exchanges. Unfortunately, since Republicans blew their chance at repeal, the best we can hope for is that Trump will continue to tweak the law where he can. But he shouldn’t shy away from fighting for more free-market reforms. Should Democrats resist, or start pushing for socialized “Medicare for all,” it will create an opportunity for Trump to paint Democrats as big-government extremists.

The article concludes:

The coming year will be eventful, with many of Trump’s main initiatives set for action by Congress — a Congress, as we noted, that won’t be as friendly to Trump as the last one. Whether Trump and the Democrats can, as the bumper sticker says, coexist, or whether the Trump agenda founders on a never-ending stream of congressional investigations and hearings on the White House, remains to be seen. We guarantee it won’t be boring.

Get out the popcorn.

Misleading Voters In The Hope Of Winning Elections

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial on Friday about misleading claims about ObamaCare by Democrats running for office.

The editorial reports:

Democrats want health care to be a major deciding issue in the midterm elections and are spending a fortune running campaign ads. Too bad most of the ads make the false claim that Republicans would take away protections for pre-existing conditions.

From January to July, Democrats spent some $17 million for 56,000 health care ads on behalf of Senate candidates, according to USA Today.

The Wesleyan Media Project reported that 44% of all the ads for congressional Democrats focused on health care. In Senate races, half of the ads were on health care, and another 16% on prescription drug costs.

One of the claims in the ads is that Republicans want to deny insurance to those with pre-existing conditions. This is a scare tactic.

The editorial explains the Republican plan for dealing with those who have pre-existing conditions (The article notes that the individual market comprises just 7% of the total insurance market. And of those, only a much smaller fraction had ever been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions before ObamaCare.):

One GOP idea was to create subsidized high-risk pools for those whose health needs would truly make them ineligible for coverage. Another was to provide protections for those who maintain continuous coverage. That would prevent people from gaming the system by waiting until they’re sick to buy insurance. (In contrast to ObamaCare, which encourages people to game the system.) Still another was to expand access to group coverage by removing needless government restrictions on “association health plans.”

Whatever anyone thinks of the Republican alternatives, it’s clear that ObamaCare’s approach is failing. Its rules and mandates led to double-digit price increases year after year, which have priced millions of families out of the insurance market altogether. (So much for guaranteed coverage.) Those who can afford ObamaCare coverage have no choice but to enroll in HMO-style plans with extremely high deductibles. (So much for making insurance “affordable.”)

The GOP proposals aren’t perfect, a point we made in this space many times. But ObamaCare as it exists today is a disaster. It promises affordable coverage, but makes it impossible for millions to get it. And it requires massive taxpayer subsidies to bring individual insurance within reach of anyone.

Unfortunately voters who are not well informed may believe the lies being told. Hopefully enough people have been negatively impacted by ObamaCare to see through this ploy.

Those Nasty Unintended Consequences

On Monday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial detailing the impact of ObamaCare on doctors.

The editorial reports:

A year before ObamaCare became law, an IBD/TIPP Poll warned that it would lead to doctor shortages because many would quit or retire early. New evidence shows that our warnings were dead on.

A recent report from the Association of Medical Colleges projects doctor shortages of up to 121,300 within the next 12 years. That’s a 16% increase from their forecast just last year.

Not only are medical schools having trouble attracting doctors (New York University plans to offer free tuition to its med students), but current physicians are cutting back on patient visits, retiring early or switching careers.

An article in a recent issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings says that nearly one in five doctors plan to switch to part-time clinical hours, 27% plan to leave their current practice, and 9% plan to get an administrative job or switch careers entirely.

The editorial cites one possible reason for the declining number of doctors:

One of the big drivers of doctor exits, by the way, is the Obama administration’s “electronic health records” mandate, which was supposed to vastly improve the quality and efficiency of care.

It’s had the opposite effect. A Mayo Clinic survey found that the EHR mandate is reducing efficiency, increasing costs and paperwork hassles, and pushing more doctors to quit or retire early.

A Harris Poll found that 59% of doctors say the current EHR system foisted on them by the Obama administration needs “a complete overhaul,” and 40% say it imposes more challenges than benefits.

ObamaCare continued what had been a long and sorry trend in health care. Government-imposed rules designed to fix some problem in the system instead generated mountains of new administrative work.

The result has been that while the number of physicians in the country has climbed modestly over the past three decades, the number of health care administrators exploded.

This is an illustration of the consequences of government interference in the free market. The free market isn’t perfect, but it is the best way to keep prices down, innovation up, and industries (and professions) moving forward.

The Next Step After Failure To Repeal ObamaCare

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today about the consequences of the Republicans’ failure to repeal ObamaCare.

The article states:

Many Democrats and their ideological allies are using the congressional recess to crow about the GOP‘s defeat — and dream about replacing Obamacare with a bonafide single-payer system.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has promised to introduce a single-payer bill next month. “I have no illusions that . . . suddenly we’re going to see a Medicare-for-all, single-payer passed,” he said last week. “Why is the United States the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people?”

Several folks within the senator’s sizeable political following have hinted that support for single-payer will be a “litmus test” that will determine whether they will get behind Democratic candidates — or primary them.

So what does single-payer healthcare mean? The Medicare for All plan that Senator Sanders introduced during his presidential run would cost $2.5 trillion — nearly double what the Sanders campaign claimed. Another study by the Urban Institute found that the plan would increase spending by $32 trillion over the next decade.

The article further reports:

Last November, Colorado voters rejected Amendment 69, a ballot initiative that would have created a single-payer system in the state, by an 80-20 margin. An independent analysis revealed that the plan would have run a deficit of $253 million in its first year — and $7.8 billion by 2028.

Bernie Sanders’s own state of Vermont experienced similar sticker shock. The plan under consideration in the Green Mountain State would have cost $4.3 billion — nearly 90% of the entire state budget.

To cover that tab, payroll taxes would have surged 11.5%; income taxes would have increased 9%. Consequently, in 2014, Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin shelved the plan, deeming it “unwise and untenable.”

The article reminds us that the way to make single-payer more economical is to ration care. That is not an improvement to the healthcare Americans received before President Obama ruined it for the majority of Americans.

The article concludes:

The median Canadian, for example, waits nearly five months to get treatment from a specialist after receiving a referral from his general practitioner. That is more than twice the wait of 25 years ago.

The United Kingdom’s single-payer system offers more of the same. At the end of June, 4 million people were waiting for care. That is the highest figure in a decade.

Is this really the path the United States wants to go down? According to a June Pew survey, only 33% of Americans think single-payer health insurance is a good idea. But that number is up 12 percentage points since 2014.

It should come back down, once Americans realize that single-payer means paying a lot more for a lot less health care.

It is long past time for the Republicans to repeal ObamaCare.

 

Losing Health Insurance Because You Want To

Yesterday National Review posted an article about the claims the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is making regarding the number of people who would lose their health insurance if ObamaCare were repealed.

The article states:

Do you want to repeal every word of Obamacare and replace it with nothing? CBO says 22 million fewer people would have health insurance. Do you prefer replacing Obamacare with a system of flat tax credits, in which you get the same amount of assistance regardless of your financial need? CBO says 23 million fewer people would have health insurance. Do you prefer replacing Obamacare with means-tested tax credits, like the Senate bill does, in which the majority of the assistance is directed to those near or below the poverty line? CBO says 22 million fewer people would have health insurance.

22 million, 23 million, 22 million—these numbers are remarkably similar even though the three policies I describe above are significantly different. Why is that?

Thanks to information that was leaked to me by a congressional staffer, we now have the answer.

Nearly three-fourths of the difference in coverage between Obamacare and the various GOP plans derives from a single feature of the Republican bills: their repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate. But the CBO has never published a year-by-year breakout of the impact of the individual mandate on its coverage estimates.

So actually, a large percentage of the people who would lose insurance coverage if ObamaCare is repealed would choose to lose coverage because they would no longer be penalized for not having insurance. Basically, the CBO report is spin! There is also the matter of ObamaCare requiring people to pay for coverage they don’t need. Generally speaking senior citizens do not need maternity coverage or pediatric dental coverage. They should not be asked to pay for it!

“Don’t Throw Me Into The Briar Patch”

Joel Chandler Harris was an American author who wrote the Uncle Remus stories. Some of these stories later became an animated film by Walt Disney called “Song of the South.” One of the characters in these stories was Br’er (“brother”) Rabbit, who when captured by Bre’r Fox pleads, “Don’t throw me into the briar patch.” Of course, Br’er Rabbit has grown up in the briar patch, is quite at home there, and sees the briar patch as an escape route. So why in the world is a political blog talking about Br’er Rabbit and the briar patch? Because I believe the story of Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox totally explains the current healthcare debate.

Let’s look at the healthcare debacle strictly through a political lens. The best outcome for the Republicans (with a Republican President) is the complete failure of ObamaCare–rising costs, escalating premiums, denial of healthcare to senior citizens and young people, etc. Theoretically, President Trump has tried to avoid this. Had this failure occurred under a Democratic President, the solution would have been single-payer socialistic medicine. Under a Republican President, a free-market solution may be possible, but only after the total failure of ObamaCare. As premiums rise and health insurance and healthcare become more difficult to obtain, voters may get angry enough to remove from office those who had blocked the repeal of ObamaCare. I suspect that much of the Tea Party is already there. Because the Republicans could not repeal ObamaCare, it is still the Democrat’s policy. That may be exactly where the Republicans wanted it.

So where are we now in the healthcare debate?

The Gateway Pundit is reporting today that there is no possibility of repealing and replacing ObamaCare and there is no possibility of repealing ObamaCare over the next two years.

The article reports news from two sources:

From Bloomberg News:

GOP Senators Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday they’ll oppose a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. McConnell said late Monday the Senate would vote on a repeal with a two-year delay to give Congress time to agree on a replacement, but he could afford to lose no more than two Republican votes to advance the measure.

Repealing the law now and then hoping for a replacement “would create great anxiety for individuals who rely on the ACA,” Collins of Maine told reporters in Washington. “I believe it would cause the insurance markets to go into turmoil.” She said she would oppose bringing a repeal bill up for debate.

Capito of West Virginia said she would refuse to take up a repeal plan without an adequate replacement. “I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” she said in a statement.

Murkowski of Alaska also said she wouldn’t vote to take up a repeal-alone measure.

From the Washington Examiner:

House Republicans on Tuesday were seething with anger over the Senate GOP’s late Monday decision to pull the plug on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Lawmakers leaving the House GOP’s weekly conference meeting said feelings of exasperation and anger have set in, now that the Senate has dropped plans to vote on an Obamacare replacement bill this month.

“There is a lot of frustration, borderline anger I guess, at what really has to be described as some level of incompetence to be able to get together and get something done,” Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., who heads the conservative Republican Study Committee, told the Washington Examiner.

I am not sure the Democrats are celebrating the fact that the Republicans could not repeal ObamaCare–now the Democrats are stuck with a healthcare plan that is rapidly crashing.