Asking A Really Good Question

On Thursday, The Federalist posted an article about a really good question Wyoming Senator John Barrasso asked Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The article reports:

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra refused to explain Thursday why “hardworking Americans should pay” for foreign lawbreakers’ healthcare when grilled by Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso.

Barrasso detailed how cities are being overwhelmed by illegal immigrants draining their resources and putting a massive strain on health funds and infrastructure, noting Denver Health saw more than 20,000 illegally present foreigners seeking medical care in 2023. Denver Health is “at a critical, critical point” as costs pile up, CEO Donna Lynne said, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

“Can you please explain why it is the responsibility of hard-working American taxpayers to foot the bill for all of this care for people, nine million now, from all across the world who have flooded their way into the United States?”

“What I could tell you is that we have extended the resources and authorities that we have at HHS to try to be there to help any healthcare facility when there is a way that we can go in to be supportive. I don’t know of a particular case that you might want to mention, but I know that we are prepared to be supportive of any facility where the authorities that you have given us allow us to go in and support,” Becerra responded.

“The federal government doesn’t pay for the health care of every legal U.S. citizen,” Barrasso shot back. “It seems like it’s in the position now of having to do it all for these illegal immigrants. Why should the American citizen be forced to pay for illegal migrants to receive this same care for free? Because that’s what’s happening.”

At some point our government needs to realize that money does not grow on trees. Our first responsibility should be to Americans. Unless we can afford to give all Americans free health care, we should not be giving it to people who broke the law to get here.

In What Universe Does This Make Sense?

On Tuesday, The Daily Caller reported that the Medi-Cal program in California will now cover healthcare for illegal aliens. It is not a surprise that California has one of the highest tax rates in the country and one of the highest cost of living.

The article reports:

The state of California’s program providing taxpayer-funded health care to illegal immigrants covers sex change surgeries and hormones, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of the program.

The program, which is known as Medi-Cal, covers hormone therapy and surgical procedures “that bring primary and secondary gender characteristics into conformity with the individual’s identified gender, including ancillary services, such as hair removal, incident to those services,” according to a state memo from May 2022. Roughly 700,000 illegal immigrants in the state between the age of 26 and 49 qualify for full coverage as of Jan. 1, California State Sen. María Elena Durazo said in May of the state’s latest move to expand the program.

I have no problem providing necessary medical care to anyone who needs it. However, the cost of sex change surgery and the drugs necessary to keep up the pretense should not be paid by the taxpayers–particularly when the people requesting the surgery are not here legally.

The article concludes:

In recent years, there’s been a massive surge in illegal immigration at the southern border, where federal authorities recorded more than 2 million encounters of migrants crossing the southern border illegally in fiscal year 2023 and more than 2.2 million in fiscal year 2022, according to federal data.

“In California, we believe everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care coverage – regardless of income or immigration status,” Newsom’s office told ABC News of the latest expansion. “Through this expansion, we’re making sure families and communities across California are healthier, stronger, and able to get the care they need when they need it.”

At some point, Americans need to realize that the cost of illegal aliens and the disrespect many of these illegal aliens are showing to our laws will destroy the country as we know it.

Crippling The Free Enterprise That Made America Great

I am currently involved in a book study of a book called The 5000 Year Leap. The book is about the founding of American and the role that free enterprise played in the success of America. Just for the record, what we have now resembles crony capitalism more than it does free enterprise. Both Jamestown and Plymouth we started as socialistic societies which almost failed before they switched to a free market system. As flawed as America’s healthcare system is, when it is allowed to be a free market, it flourishes. Now the Biden administration is working to change that.

On Friday, The Epoch Times reported the following:

The Biden administration has proposed a new rule that would allow federal authorities to seize the patents of costly drugs that were developed using taxpayer dollars and to let third parties use those patents to make the drugs available more cheaply.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, on Dec. 7 published a set of draft guidelines for government agencies to evaluate when it might be appropriate to invoke what are known as “march-in” rights under the legal framework of the Bayh-Dole Act.

The Bayh-Dole Act, which is shorthand for the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act of 1980, grants the government the authority to suspend the patents of products of inventions that were developed with federal funding if those products or inventions are not made available to the public.

I agree that Americans pay too much for drugs, but this rule would have a serious impact on research and development and would eventually cause a downward spiral of healthcare in America.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. I realize that the pharmaceutical industry has not behaved well in recent years, but we need to clean up the industry–not destroy it.

How Safe Is The Covid Vaccine?

On \Wednesday, The American Thinker posted an article about the Covid vaccine and the incidence of heart disease among the people who have taken it.

The article reports:

On August 24, 2021, the secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, issued a memorandum, directing the secretaries of the military departments to “immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under Department of Defense.”

This mandate was pushed even though Doe v. Rumsfeld (2003) clearly prohibits the DOD from mandating an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) vaccine.

The Military Department leads, instead of doing their due diligence and looking out for their troops, blindly followed and carried out what was arguably an unconstitutional and unlawful order.

The Florida state surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, issued a statement on October 23, 2023 recommending against the COVID-19 booster, based heavily on the risk of subclinical and clinical myocarditis and other cardiovascular conditions.

French study using nationwide hospital discharge and vaccine data has shown “strong evidence of an increased risk of myocarditis and of pericarditis in the week following vaccination against Covid-19 with mRNA vaccines in both males and females.”

The article notes:

This leads me to the 248th Marine Corps Birthday Ball on November 10, 2023.  This year at the Ball for the Marine Corps Reserve and Marine Corps Forces, South, the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Eric Smith, was scheduled to be the guest of honor.  However, due to cardiac arrest on October 29, 2023, and a scheduled surgery, his presence had to be canceled.  General Smith is 58, in terrific shape.  He eats well and doesn’t drink.  He is one of the least likely people to ever suffer from cardiac arrest.

…The narrative being pushed is that the commandant has a congenital issue.

We saw the same controlled narrative when actor Jamie Foxx collapsed and was hospitalized.  Damar Hamlin collapsed and was hospitalized.  Bronny James, the 18-year-old son of basketball icon LeBron James, collapsed due to cardiac arrest.  Coincidentally, it was blamed on congenital issues.

It is worth noting that before the COVID 19 “vaccines,” in the European Sports Leagues, there were 29 cardiac arrests a year.  Since the introduction of the “vaccine,” there have been 1,500 cardiac arrests a year, and two-thirds of them have been fatal.  

As I write this, fewer Americans are getting the vaccine or the boosters. Hopefully this trend will continue as there are some valid questions as to the safety of the Covid vaccines. Meanwhile, it would be nice if the healthcare community would be honest about the risks involved.

Veterans Take Note!

If you are a veteran, the Biden administration is not your friend. At least the Trump administration made some attempt to clean up the problems in the Veterans’ Administration (VA) health system. The Biden administration is working hard to make it worse.

On Friday, Fox News reported:

A long-standing arrangement between the Department of Veterans Affairs and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to process claims for migrant medical care is drawing scrutiny from veterans’ advocates — who are concerned that it could affect the agency’s mission of caring for veterans — amid an ongoing border crisis and existing complaints about the care delivered to veterans.

“I’d like to understand why the VA is involved,” Russ Duerstine, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America and a veteran of the United States Air Force, told Fox News Digital.

When an illegal immigrant under ICE detention requires healthcare, they are typically treated on-site by medical professionals. However, if specialist or emergency care is required, they may be transported to an independent private provider.

In such cases, ICE contracts with the VA’s Financial Service Center (VA-FSC) to process reimbursements to those providers. According to a report from July, ICE has hundreds of letters of understanding in which ICE’s Health Service Corps (IHSC) will reimburse providers at Medicare rates. That uses the VA-FSC’s Healthcare Claims Processing System — a portal that allows providers to submit and view claims and access other resources.

The article notes that although the VA plays a role, it does not provide or fund any health care services to individuals detained in [ICE] custody. At no time are any VA health care professionals or VA funds used for this purpose. So why then is the VA even involved?

The article also notes:

Darin Selnick, who served as veterans’ affairs adviser on the Domestic Policy Council during the Trump administration and also as a senior adviser to the VA secretary, said the arrangement was also a surprise to him and others he knew who served during the administration. He believes it would have been stopped if it was more widely known among officials.

“In my position, we would have stopped this, because if the VA had the extra ability to do this, then they should have been doing it for the veterans and not for another agency,” he said.

Duerstine, of Concerned Veterans for America, said he would like to see Veterans’ Affairs committees in Congress take a deeper look into the VA’s role.

 

 

 

Things That Would Unite America

Americans have a lot of political disagreements right now. We have some pretty wide divisions. However, there are some things that the majority of us agree on. Policies based on issues of agreement would unite us. On Friday, The Daily Signal posted an list of twelve principles that unite us as Americans. See if you agree with the list.

Here is the list:

1. Protect Our Vote.

2. Secure Our Border.

3. No More Debt.

4. Stand Up to China.

5. Don’t Raise Taxes.

6. Stop the Woke.

7. Cut Red Tape.

8. Sleep Safe at Night.

9. Stop Big Tech.

10. Deliver School Choice.

11. Empower Patients, Not Government.

12. Make Our Streets Safe.

Protecting our vote means making it easy to vote legitimately and hard to cheat. Securing our border means finishing the fence and enforcing present laws. No more debt, standing up to China, and not raising taxes are things that would obviously unite us. Stopping the woke means reminding Americans that we are all Americans regardless of race, color, ancestry, etc. We need to end any vestiges of racism in America–that does not mean simply supporting racism on the part of a different group. Cutting red tape allows the economy to grow more quickly and reduces the cost of living for everyone. Regulations are expensive to consumers. Sleep safe at night refers to keeping the level of America’s defensive forces high enough to defend us.

The last four items on the list are obvious. We have wandered into a world where we are spied on and manipulated by our government and by big tech. This needs to stop. We need school choice to insure that the upcoming generations will have the critical thinking skills to protect the freedom that we in America enjoy. Getting the government out of healthcare will decrease the cost for everyone and will provide a path for everyone to receive the healthcare they need. Making our streets safe includes not only making sure we have enough law enforcement, but teaching our children (and grownups) to respect the police and follow any instructions given by the police. Police shootings generally don’t happen unless someone is resisting arrest or shooting at the police. We need to remember that.

This list is very obvious, but it illustrates the fact that we have not done our job as informed voters. In the future we need to elect people who will work toward unifying principles–not ideas that tear the country apart.

President Trump And Health Care

Yesterday Dr. Ben Carson posted an opinion piece at Fox News about President Trump’s policies regarding healthcare.

Dr. Carson notes:

The Trump administration has an impressive story to tell on health care. For nearly four years, President Trump has championed policies that brought desperately needed reforms to American health care.

Despite the media’s refusal to attribute proper credit, the president has delivered tangible health care results on behalf of the American people – resulting in better care, more choice, and lower costs.

The historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act removed the widely unpopular individual mandate tax penalty in ObamaCare. The ObamaCare mandate forced Americans into buying health insurance.

Unfortunately, this mandate disproportionately harmed middle-class and lower-income Americans for years, coercing those individuals into purchasing care that they did not want.

As a result of President Trump’s substantial reforms to ObamaCare, premiums declined over the last two years for the first time since the flawed law was enacted.

A staple of President Trump’s approach to health care reform is rooted in returning the choice to individuals as opposed to government bureaucrats.

One of the prime examples of this is President Trump expanding health care options for terminal patients. Every year more than 1 million Americans die from a terminal illness.

In 2018, President Trump signed “Right to Try” legislation, allowing certain experimental drugs to be administered to the terminally ill who exhausted all other options. President Trump moved the government out of the way and gave Americans who had seemingly no hope a chance to survive.

Over the summer, President Trump worked to solve a problem that had sadly proved too difficult for his predecessors – lowering prescription drug prices. The president signed an executive order ensuring the United States pays the lowest price available in economically advanced countries for Medicare Part B drugs.

This order is finally reducing the inflated prices that so many Americans pay for Part B medications. Even before that specific action, prescription drugs saw their largest price decrease in over a half century in 2018 thanks to President Trump’s commonsense approach – his executive order will only bolster that progress. Where previous administrations ran into the same old obstacles, President Trump cleared them out of the way and delivered for the American people.

Obamacare did not work. If you liked our doctor or our insurance plan, you couldn’t keep them, despite what President Obama promised. Heath insurance premiums skyrocketed. The penalty for not having health insurance hurt people financially. The worse part of ObamaCare was requiring people to pay for healthcare options they neither needed nor would use–young men in their twenties were paying for pediatric dental care and women in their sixties were paying for pre-natal care. The only people who profited were the insurance companies  who helped write the bill (their numbers would go up because everyone would be required to have insurance). Obamacare was a failure, and President Trump is beginning to repair some of the damage it caused. Look for Joe Biden to praise Obamacare at the debate tonight.

This Is Really Not Surprising

The Gateway Pundit posted an article today about Bernie Sanders’ plan for healthcare for everyone.

The article reports:

Bernie Sanders is proposing a new wealth tax on billionaires called the ‘Make Billionaires Pay’ act.

He wants to tax wealth they have generated during the Coronavirus pandemic, to fund healthcare for all Americans for one year.

Only for one year?

The article includes some information from CNBC:

Sen. Sanders proposes one-time tax that would cost Bezos $42.8 billion, Musk $27.5 billion

Top tech leaders and other billionaires would be forced to hand over billions of dollars in wealth they’ve gained during the coronavirus pandemic under a new bill introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

The “Make Billionaires Pay Act” would impose a one-time 60% tax on wealth gains made by billionaires between March 18, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021. The funds would be used to pay for out-of-pocket health-care expenses for all Americans for a year. As of Aug. 5, the bill would tax $731 billion in wealth accumulated by 467 billionaires since March 18, according to a press release. If passed, the bill would tax billionaires on wealth accumulated through the end of the year, however.

Under the bill, tech and other business titans who have seen their wealth shoot up during the pandemic would take huge charges. Amazon and Walmart, for example, have both seen their stocks grow as Americans increasingly relied on their services during stay-at-home orders during the pandemic.

Does anyone remember that Bernie Sanders wanted to tax all millionaires until he became one? The thing to remember here is that billionaires have tax accountants who know how to move money around so that it is not taxable. What happens next is that the program that the tax on billionaires is supposed to fund goes into effect and does not have the money to fund it. At that point, the ‘little people’ like us have to pick up the slack in taxes to pay for the program because we don’t have tax accountants that know how to move money around to avoid taxes. Eventually the middle class pays for all tax increases aimed at the rich. Bernie Sanders and his friends need to study the Laffer Curve. The Bernie Sanders plan is a surefire way to get corporations and their executives to move money overseas (just after President Trump has managed to bring a lot of that money back into America).

 

 

When Red Tape Meets Medical Care

On Monday The Washington Examiner posted an article illustrating how the handling of the coronavirus in New York provides a look into the potential problems with government healthcare.

The article reports:

I have a lot of fears in life: sharks, heights, wrinkles, government controlling my healthcare.

Recently, the New York Times provided plenty of fodder supporting the latter anxiety, revealing the results of a study it conducted that examined the disparities between public and private healthcare at the height of the pandemic in New York City. The disparities included staffing levels, differences in the age and type of equipment available, and access to drugs and experimental treatments. As one might guess, patients at the city’s community facilities fared far worse than those in private facilities, with their mortality rate 3 times higher in some cases.

All hospitals saw higher staff-to-patient ratios than best practices would recommend. In a typical emergency room, that figure should look like 1 nurse for every 4 patients. But during COVID-19, private facilities experienced ratios closer to 1 nurse for every 6 to 7 patients. At the government hospitals, that number was 1 nurse for every 10 to 15, and at times even 20 patients.

Less time per patient meant fewer tests, less information, and less monitoring. Several patients woke up from medically induced comas and, in confusion, removed their oxygen masks, leading to death. This occurred at the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, where staff referred to the patients as “bathroom codes” as their bodies were typically discovered near the bathroom 30 to 45 minutes later. One doctor told the New York Times that for every 10 deaths he saw, two to three patients could have been saved with the proper care.

The article goes on to explain that despite the makeshift hospitals put up to serve patients during the epidemic, those hospitals were barely used.

The article notes:

The paper (The New York Times) looked at the hospital set up at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to study why this occurred. Though the center was equipped with 470 beds and hundreds of employees (many of them out-of-state healthcare providers being paid handsomely), it ultimately saw only 79 patients and closed its doors after one month. It was a catastrophic failure, the kind only government can pull off.

Patients were not admitted due to red tape, delays due to the need to train workers on computers and other problems. Meanwhile, many patients died. Please follow the link above to read the entire article. The problems in New York were due to red tape, cronyism, extensive bureaucracy, and the general inability of the government to respond quickly to a crisis.

At some point Americans need to learn that there are charitable organizations out there that do a better job of responding to an emergency than the government. The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Blessing, and the Red Cross are a few of these organizations. I live in a city that was hit hard by hurricane Florence. It was encouraging to know that as the storm was bearing down on the city, Operation Blessing was parked nearby out of harm’s way ready to come in and provide meals and supplies to the people who were impacted by the storm. The recovery efforts in my city were largely undertaken by religious and charitable groups and ordinary citizens. A friend who is a teacher and realized that he wouldn’t have classes for a while gathered a group of friends and a few chainsaws and went around helping people move trees off their houses and clear streets. It’s time to get back to individual responsibility–even in healthcare.

 

The Other Side Of The Mask Requirement

Yesterday PJMedia posted an article with the following headline, “Neurosurgeon Says Face Masks Pose Serious Risk to Healthy People.” This is not the first time I have read  that.

The article notes:

As for the scientific support for the use of face mask, a recent careful examination of the literature, in which 17 of the best studies were analyzed, concluded that, “ None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection.”1   Keep in mind, no studies have been done to demonstrate that either a cloth mask or the N95 mask has any effect on transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Any recommendations, therefore, have to be based on studies of influenza virus transmission. And, as you have seen, there is no conclusive evidence of their efficiency in controlling flu virus transmission.

It is also instructive to know that until recently, the CDC did not recommend wearing a face mask or covering of any kind, unless a person was known to be infected, that is, until recently. Non-infected people need not wear a mask. When a person has TB we have them wear a mask, not the entire community of non-infected. The recommendations by the CDC and the WHO are not based on any studies of this virus and have never been used to contain any other virus pandemic or epidemic in history.

The article continues:

In one such study, researchers surveyed 212 healthcare workers (47 males and 165 females) asking about presence of headaches with N95 mask use, duration of the headaches, type of headaches and if the person had preexisting headaches.2

They found that about a third of the workers developed headaches with use of the mask, most had preexisting headaches that were worsened by the mask wearing, and 60% required pain medications for relief. As to the cause of the headaches, while straps and pressure from the mask could be causative, the bulk of the evidence points toward hypoxia and/or hypercapnia as the cause. That is, a reduction in blood oxygenation (hypoxia) or an elevation in blood C02 (hypercapnia). It is known that the N95 mask, if worn for hours, can reduce blood oxygenation as much as 20%, which can lead to a loss of consciousness, as happened to the hapless fellow driving around alone in his car wearing an N95 mask, causing him to pass out, and to crash his car and sustain injuries. I am sure that we have several cases of elderly individuals or any person with poor lung function passing out, hitting their head. This, of course, can lead to death.

A more recent study involving 159 healthcare workers aged 21 to 35 years of age found that 81% developed headaches from wearing a face mask.3   Some had pre-existing headaches that were precipitated by the masks. All felt like the headaches affected their work performance.

Blaylock (Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon) says studies have also shown that face masks impair oxygen intake dramatically leading to serious problems.

Wear a mask if you choose, but please do not criticize those of us who choose not to.

An Alternative View From A Doctor

Dr.

The article states:

The tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be entering the containment phase. Tens of thousands of Americans have died, and Americans are now desperate for sensible policymakers who have the courage to ignore the panic and rely on facts. Leaders must examine accumulated data to see what has actually happened, rather than keep emphasizing hypothetical projections; combine that empirical evidence with fundamental principles of biology established for decades; and then thoughtfully restore the country to function.

Dr. Atlas lists five key facts that he feels are being ignored as the lockdown continues:

(the above summation of Dr. Atlas’ statement was posted in The Daily Caller on Friday).

The article at The Hill concludes:

The appropriate policy, based on fundamental biology and the evidence already in hand, is to institute a more focused strategy like some outlined in the first place: Strictly protect the known vulnerable, self-isolate the mildly sick and open most workplaces and small businesses with some prudent large-group precautions. This would allow the essential socializing to generate immunity among those with minimal risk of serious consequence, while saving lives, preventing overcrowding of hospitals and limiting the enormous harms compounded by continued total isolation. Let’s stop underemphasizing empirical evidence while instead doubling down on hypothetical models. Facts matter.

It’s time for common sense to make a comeback.

 

 

The Question Of The Day

Theoretically the purpose of the nationwide lock-down was to insure that the healthcare infrastructure was not overwhelmed by the demand for hospital beds and respirators. Okay. That makes sense. As the coronavirus has continued to work its way through the nation, we have seen American ingenuity come to the forefront with additional hospital beds and respirators discovered or invented to meet the need. We have also seen that  the actual case load is only a fraction of what the ‘experts’ warned us about. Some of that is due to staying home, but some of that is due to estimates that were totally inaccurate. Now it is time to assess the damage the lock-down has done to America’s economy and search for a balance between the health and economic well-being of Americans.

The American Thinker posted an article today titled, “When Should Trump Restart the Economy?” That is definitely the question of the day.

The article reports:

As the world shudders into Easter and the death toll on the China virus continues to rise, the question is: should we quarantine or should we restart the economy before the shutdown kills us?

Or, more exactly, when should President Trump brave the sneers of the White House press corpse and proclaim that America is Back?

The answer, I think, is pretty clear. It will be midway between the point where only crazed libertarians propose a return to work and the point where Nancy Pelosi would announce that she is appointing a House Select Committee to investigate Trump’s criminal delay in restarting the economy.

In other words, effective political leadership is tricky.

The article notes how the media will treat any decision the President makes:

My prediction is that President Trump will issue a back-to-work order about two weeks before the geniuses in the media and left-wing hate groups catch up to reality. There will be two weeks where all the usual suspects are telling us that the walls are closing in on Trump. A couple of Inspectors General will change the rules on whistleblowers and leak to their favorite House committees which will start super-secret investigations in the House basement.

Then it will become evident to all that Trump made the right decision. However, he did it the wrong way.

Whatever the President does, he will be criticized in the press. He might as well do what he thinks is right and take the heat (as he has done all along). Frankly I am very grateful to have a businessman in the White House right now instead of a politician. Businessmen solve problems–politicians extend problems so that they can be re-elected.

Please follow the link above and read the entire article. It makes a lot of sense.

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.

The Human Cost Of Socialized Medicine

On Thursday, The Daily Signal posted an article which illustrates how thankful Americans should be for the health care we receive. The article tells the story of James Schmitz, a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Mr. Schmitz suffers from West syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.

The article reports:

After graduating college, I had an opportunity to work for a think tank in London. There, I’d be just hours away from the wonders of mainland Europe.

Britain is a historian’s paradise, so naturally as a history major, I was soaking it up. The idea of also going to Pompeii or Rome was spectacular.

The only thing standing in my way was a doctor to treat me abroad.

As an epileptic, I needed a steady supply of anti-seizure drugs and visits to the doctor about every three months to make sure everything was working as it should. I also needed a doctor to be available within a week’s time if necessary.

I didn’t know how hard it would be to find a doctor in Britain. I remember having a very difficult conversation with a general practitioner. It was the moment my dream of staying abroad was crushed.

It was a Friday. After work, I walked into an urgent care clinic to set up an appointment with a neurologist.

I knew how easy it is in the United States to see a doctor, so I thought this would be no different. I would go in, get a recommendation, and walk out with a name and number to call on Monday for an appointment possibly in two weeks’ time.

Sadly, that was not the case. The doctor said, verbatim: “I can recommend a neurologist for you. I will say, she’s pretty booked so you won’t see her for at least nine months.”

I was shocked. I felt as if I’d been blindsided. She wasn’t even guessing. She worked at a nearby National Health Service hospital right down the street on the weekends, so she knew.

I asked if there was anything I could do to expedite the waiting process. In response, all I got was: “I’ll call my colleague and see if she could maybe squeeze you in maybe three to four months from now.”

Disheartened by the news, I knew staying in the U.K. was out of the question. I had to return to the U.S. in order to keep accessing the routine medical care that had saved my life so many years before.

A month later, I packed my bags and left for Heathrow Airport having spent less than three months in the country. It’s a shame, because Britain is an amazing country and I would have loved to stay longer. Health care should not be a reason to have to leave a modern, First World country.

And that is how things work under socialized medicine. There may be no cost, but there is also no availability. Healthcare isn’t worth much if you can’t get it.

A Nightmare For Healthcare In America

Issues & Insights posted an article today about Elizabeth Warren’s healthcare plan for America.

These are some highlights from the article:

So Warren simply waves her magic wand and makes $14 trillion in costs disappear. And how does she cut Medicare for All’s price tag by 41%?

By proposing:

    • impossibly deep cuts in drug prices,
    • devastating cuts in payments to hospitals and doctors,
    • and entirely unrealistic claims about overhead costs.

Even with Warren’s phony price tag of $20.5 trillion, the taxes required are truly astronomical. Warren says businesses would have to contribute $8.8 trillion in taxes to help finance Medicare for All. She says they should be grateful because under the current system they’ll spend $9 trillion on employee health benefits.  

But she doesn’t actually know that businesses will spend $9 trillion on health care over the next decade. It’s just a guess. And not a very good one, since businesses are finding new and better ways every day to keep their health costs under control.

Her plan is to pay for healthcare by doing the following:

Even the supposed business savings are phony since Warren would massively raise corporate income taxes. In her plan, she announces that she would:

    • repeal the Trump corporate tax cuts, reinstating the 35% tax rate that made U.S companies uncompetitive among industrialized nations,
    • enforce a “country by country” minimum tax of 35%,
    • and lengthen depreciation rules.

Combined, these and other new levies would raise corporate taxes by $2.9 trillion.And this doesn’t count the following:

    • the $800 billion tax on financial transactions she’d impose
    • the $100 billion fee on “big banks”
    • a 6% wealth tax
    • much higher capital gains tax rates
    • and a requirement that taxes be paid on cap gains every year, whether or not the stocks are sold

Guess who will be paying all those costs?

People need to remember that corporations do not actually pay higher taxes–they pass those tax hikes on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Consumers pay higher corporate taxes and higher corporate taxes drive businesses out of the country.

The article concludes:

Meanwhile, drug companies would be entirely at the mercy of whatever price caps Warren decides to impose (namely, 70% cuts for brand name drugs and 30% cuts for generics), since they’d have no other buyers.

Pharmaceutical companies that don’t play ball, she says, would risk losing their patent protection (through compulsory licensing) while the government takes over drug manufacturing. Say goodbye to the pharmaceutical industry.

In sum, Warren is peddling a health plan that, if it were actually enacted, would devastate the economy, wreck the nation’s health care, and put the government in control of just about every business decision. And she has a good chance of claiming the Democratic party’s nomination. That’s frightening.

And right now, she is one of the leading candidates for President.

Where Some Of The Money Would Come From

Gregg Jarrett posted an article today which explains how Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders would pay for healthcare for people who are in America illegally.

The article reports:

Senator Warren and Senator Sanders have both publicly supported the dismantling of the United States healthcare system and want to rebuild it as a socialized government-run system. In this new system, illegal aliens would also be entitled to taxpayer-funded healthcare. Senator Sanders has admitted that to accomplish this, taxes on the middle class would need to increase. Senator Warren has refused to say how she plans to pay for such an expensive and expansive healthcare system.

The Washington Post interviewed a few “external economic policy advisers” to see what ideas they might be pitching to Senator Warren’s campaign. One advisor by the name of Robert Pollin suggested taking away money from the Department of Veterans Affairs and diverting it to a single-payer system.

“Robert Pollin, a left-leaning economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who has worked with the Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) teams, said he believes two-thirds of the single-payer fund can be raised by redirecting existing public health-care spending from Medicare, Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Pollin refused to discuss any details related to his conversations with Warren’s campaign.” – The Washington Post

So money will be taken away from the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay for healthcare for people who are in America illegally.

The article concludes:

Not only is Mr. Pollin suggesting that funds intended for the healthcare of America’s bravest be diverted to this new system, but also Medicaid and Medicare funds. This means that the government entities that are meant for the underprivileged, handicap, and elderly will lose funding. Even with redirecting all of these funds Mr. Pollin admits that they would need to raise an additional 600 billion dollars.

“Pollin suggests that the remaining third be raised by a $600 billion annual ‘gross-receipts’ tax on businesses.”

This means that in effect, taxes will go up on all citizens. If stealing money from the health plans of American veterans is their best solution, the American people will reject their radical ideas and reelect President Trump.

I hope so.

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.

Helping Solve The Healthcare Problem

It is becoming obvious that the Democrats in Congress are not really interested in solving problems. They have been absent on the border crisis and they have been absent on healthcare and health insurance. Meanwhile, President Trump is making gains in both of those areas.

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line Blog posted an article about a recent change in health insurance regulations announced by the Department of Health and Human Services. The change will allow businesses to fund employees who buy health insurance on the individual market–something that until now has been illegal.

The article includes the announcement:

Today, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury issued a new policy that will provide hundreds of thousands of employers, including small businesses, a better way to provide health insurance coverage, and millions of American workers more options for health insurance coverage. The Departments issued a final regulation that will expand the use of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). When employers have fully adjusted to the rule, it is estimated this expansion of HRAs will benefit approximately 800,000 employers, including small businesses, and more than 11 million employees and family members, including an estimated 800,000 Americans who were previously uninsured.
***
Under the rule, starting in January 2020, employers will be able to use what are referred to as individual coverage HRAs to provide their workers with tax-preferred funds to pay for the cost of health insurance coverage that workers purchase in the individual market, subject to certain conditions. … Individual coverage HRAs are designed to give working Americans and their families greater control over their healthcare by providing an additional way for employers to finance health insurance.
***
The HRA rule also increases workers’ choice of coverage, increases the portability of coverage, and will generally improve worker economic well-being. This rule will also allow workers to shop for plans in the individual market and select coverage that best meets their needs. … [T]he final rule should spur a more competitive individual market that drives health insurers to deliver better coverage options to consumers.

Moving healthcare and health insurance back to free market principles will be better for everyone–it will increase competition and eventually drive costs down. This is a step in the right direction.

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. 

The World Is Upside Down

Yesterday Newsweek posted an article about Alabama’s new pro-life law.

The article includes a tweet from Amnesty International:

Abortionfacts.com states:

As early as eight to ten weeks after conception, and definitely by thirteen-and-a-half weeks, the unborn experiences organic pain…. First, the unborn child’s mouth, at eight weeks, then her hands at ten weeks, then her face, arms, and legs at eleven weeks become sensitive to touch. By thirteen-and-a-half weeks, she responds to pain at all levels of her nervous system in an integrated response which cannot be termed a mere reflex. She can now experience pain.

Doesn’t abortion violate the baby’s human rights? Killing babies in not healthcare–it is just the opposite. I don’t necessarily agree with all of Alabama’s law, but I believe that we have taken too lightly the murder of approximately 61 million babies since 1973. It is time to end the billion dollar abortion industry that so callously sells aborted baby body parts. The defense of the practice of killing babies and selling their body parts is simply inexcusable.

 

This Should Never Have Been Legal

Yesterday The Daily Caller reported that President Trump made a change to a 2014 Medicaid regulation. Some states had been skimming money from Medicaid payments and funneling it into union coffers.

The article reports:

The Obama administration issued a regulation that protected a state practice that had, by that time, been practiced for decades. Since the 1990s, states have accepted Medicaid money from the federal government meant for home health service providers, often the family or friends of the Medicaid-assistance recipient, according to the conservative think tank Freedom Foundation.

In distributing checks to the health providers, some states had begun skimming money and diverting it to unions and other interest groups in the form of dues, even though home health providers may not be members. The Center for Medicaid Services will begin cracking down on the process in July.

…The new regulation will prevent states from skimming up to $150 million per year from Medicaid payments and diverting it to other causes. The Freedom Foundation found that in 2018 eight states – California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Washington – were skimming money off Medicaid payments to caretakers.

As expected, the unions opposed this new regulation:

Unions slammed the Trump administration over the new rule. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the largest public-sector unions in the U.S., said the new policy was “anti-worker.”

The final rule attacks “roughly 800,000 home care workers’ ability to use common paycheck deductions for health insurance contributions, union dues, and other expenses,” the SEIU said in a statement. “The rule wrongly targets independent provider home care workers who, without a union, are faced with a physically and emotionally demanding job with a median wage of just $10.49 an hour, no healthcare, no paid sick time and no benefits.”

How about letting home care workers decide for themselves whether or not they want to join a union or pay union dues? The Obama regulation was simply another way to put money in union coffers that they could donate to Democrats during election cycles.

Good Deeds Rarely Go Unpunished

In late February, H.R. 184 was introduced into the North Carolina House of Representatives. In early April, H.R. 184 made it to the North Carolina Senate where it was referred to the Committee On Rules and Operations of the Senate. There it sits. It’s a bad bill, catering to special interests, and need to die there.

So exactly what is H.R. 184? On April 4, 2019, Raynor James wrote an article describing the debate in the North Carolina House of Representatives over H.R. 184. In her article Raynor explained that H.R. 184 would tie the hands of State Treasurer Dale Folwell in dealing with the rapidly growing problems with the State Health Plan.

An article in The Daily Haymaker on March 26 explains some of what is going on:

Former state representative Dale Folwell (R) worked wonders in cleaning up the highly FUBAR-ed unemployment insurance system. You would think it would be a no-brainer to put him on fixing that money-bleeding nightmare known as the state health plan. (The plan made it to its current sorry state in no small part to the micro-managing mischief by legislators in both parties who saw it as their own personal piggy-bank and slush fund.)

So, along comes Dale Folwell trying to do exactly what the legislature empowered the state treasurer’s office to do years ago:  competently manage the state health plan.  Folwell decided taxpayers needed to understand exactly what  health care providers were billing the health plan FOR.

This did not sit well with the folks at the hospitals and clinics sending in those fat, vague, non-specific bills.  Armies of lobbyists were dispatched to spend dark money on ads smearing Folwell and his pricing transparency plan.  A lot of politician pockets were lined.  A bill got drafted (with a lot of lobbyist, um. “help”)  that tied Folwell’s hands on exactly what he could to in regard to the state health plan.

The bill, H184, got its first hearing in the House Health Committee today.  Conveniently, there was NO roll call vote on this expensive legislation — with a total cost over 3 years of $400 to 600 MILLION. 

The bill did get amended.  The time frame for the “study” on  changing the health plan was shortened. The state employees — who stand to be affected the most by this bill — got their representation on the “study committee” expanded from ONE to TWO.  (Isn’t that nice?)    And the whole package is still going to cost the taxpayers an additional $241 MILLION.

The article then explains the problem:

There was no real good reason to do this. It went against one of the alleged core principles of the majority party. The prime beneficiaries of the state health plan — the state employees — appear to be solidly behind what Folwell is doing. Taxpayers — seeking to avoid a $400-600 MILLION hit from doing NOTHING and “studying” the idea of reform — appear to be all for it.

But the deep-pocketed lobbyists who are so kind and compassionate to campaign accounts all over Jones Street were not happy and HAD to be mollified.

Some Republicans are fighting back. There was a Resolution at the North Carolina Third District Republican Convention today that backed Dale Folwell and his efforts to clean up the State Health Plan. The Resolution passed easily.

The Resolution included the following:

In 2008, expenses for the North Carolina State Health Plan were roughly $2.2 billion; today they are roughly $3.4 billion. Medical and pharmaceutical costs are increasing five to nine percent annually and current spending projections estimate that the plan will be insolvent by 2023 unless action is taken. The campaign to fix the state healthcare plan is opposed mainly by special interests–hospitals and those who profit by the inefficiency and inflated costs of medical care under the current system.

I was told that the bill would probably die in committee. I hope that happens. However, the fact that saving taxpayer money was opposed by special interest groups should not come as a shock to any of us. That fact underlines the need for citizens to stay aware of what our legislature is doing. North Carolina is in a strong position economically–it is a place where businesses relocate. If our State Health Plan is not brought under control, our taxes will increases to cover the cost of the program and we will be much less attractive to businesses looking for a place to be.

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.

What Does This Say About Our Values?

I am strongly pro-life. I believe that the only time an abortion should be performed is when the pregnancy presents a physical threat to the mother. Those instances are rare and could easily be dealt with in a hospital. Those instances would also not result in a multi-million-dollar abortion industry.

Yesterday The Washington Examiner reported that the Democrats had blocked a vote on a bill called the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S.311). Because of Senate rules, a bill needs 60 votes in order to be brought to the floor to be voted on (that is based on the idea of a filibuster except people no longer stand up and talk for hours). Republican Ben Sasse wanted a vote on S.311, but there were only 53 Senators in favor of voting for the measure (translated loosely that means that there were only 53 Senators willing to go on the record on treating infants who survive abortions). The bill was not perfect. There were some things I would have been very uncomfortable with–I don’t like the idea of doctors being sued or arrested for actions taken in the operating room. However, it seems strange to me that people would be more likely to help a puppy found on the side of the road than a baby who survived and abortion attempt. Most Republicans voted for a vote on the bill. A few Democrats voted for a vote.

In view of recent statements by the Governor of Virginia and the Governor of New York on abortion, some form of this bill is probably necessary. I hope we will see some form of the bill pass in the future. However, it is a sad commentary on our society that a stranded puppy would be more likely to receive care than an aborted baby.