Transparency Is Always A Good Idea

Yesterday The Epoch Times reported that Judge Carl Nichols with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Trump administration can compel hospitals and insurers to publish negotiated costs for health care services that are normally kept secret from patients. This is wonderful news for patients in hospitals although I suspect that the medical community is not happy with the decision.

The article reports:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced a rule in November 2019 that defined “standard charges,” laid out the publication requirements for hospitals and insurers, and the department’s enforcement plans.

At the time, hospital and insurer organizations and advocacy groups objected to the agency’s proposals, disputing that the Trump administration has the authority to require the disclosures, which they believe are trade secrets. The hospitals also disputed that the policy would benefit consumers and lead to lower costs, countering that compliance would instead be too burdensome and “get in the way” of providing services for patients.

The finalization of the rule, which goes into effect January 2021, prompted the American Hospital Association (AHA) to sue, arguing that the White House didn’t have the authority to make the directive, had violated the First Amendment in its creation, and had acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.

The article concludes:

Trump’s executive order on improving transparency on health care prices and quality required the HHS secretary to propose a regulation to publicly post standard charge information “in an easy-to-understand, consumer-friendly, and machine-readable format using consensus-based data standards that will meaningfully inform patients’ decision making and allow patients to compare prices across hospitals.”

It also requires hospitals to regularly update the posted information.

David Mitchell, the founder of advocacy group Patients For Affordable Drugs, said in a statement to The Epoch Times in response to the ruling that he thinks “we have to get rid of our system in which prices are secret and hidden from those who must pay them.”

This is good news for the people who pay for hospital care.

Why You Seem To Be Earning More And Having Less To Spend

There are a number of articles on the internet today about inflation in America.

The first, at Bloomberg.com describes the impact of inflation on the average Fourth of July celebration:

The CHART OF THE DAY shows an index tracking U.S. retail prices for seven foods commonly consumed while grilling climbed 5.1 percent in May from a year earlier to the highest ever for the month, the latest data from Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

Independence Day is the most popular time of the year for Americans to cook outdoors, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. The holiday falls on a Friday this year, increasing chances that revelers will keep celebrating into the weekend. Prices for ground beef are 16 percent higher than a year earlier, while ice cream climbed 1.7 percent and tomatoes soared 12 percent, government data show.

A chart at the Wall Street Journal shows what is happening to gasoline prices:

And finally, a chart at businessweek shows what happens when prices go up:

The American economy is not in recovery. The only reason the Stock Market is rising is because the government is subsidizing it. The Middle Class in America is being squeezed by a shrinking labor force and stagnant wages. We need to put more business men and less lawyers in Congress. Please remember that in November.

 

 

Rhetoric Vs. Facts

We’re hearing a lot lately about solving our nation’s fiscal problems by ‘taxing the rich.’ It sounds good, but the facts just don’t agree with the talking points.

Breitbart.com posted an article yesterday that crunched some of the numbers involved.

Breitbart.com reported:

“The president’s plan to increase taxes on the upper two percent covers the spending by this federal government not for eight years, not for eight months, not for eight weeks but for eight days. Eight days only,” said Mr. Price (Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)). “It’s not a real solution. So, again, I’m puzzled by an administration that seems to be more interested in raising tax rates than in gaining economic vitality.”

So what is going on?

The article cites a comment by Warren Buffett that may explain things:

Indeed, even Mr. Buffett seems to concede that he and the president’s “soak the rich” proposals are more an act of political theater designed to generate an emotional response than serious solutions: Mr. Buffett told Matt Lauer he believes his proposal would boost the “morale of the middle class.” 

This is not about fiscal responsibility. This is called class warfare, and unfortunately, a lot of Americans have bought into the idea that punishing success is better than formulating policies that will help more people achieve success.

There is one important thing to remember as we approach the fiscal cliff. The Republicans control only one-half of one branch of government. Whatever happens, if it is not successful, the media will blame the Republicans. The Republicans might as well stick to their guns about not raising taxes and at least get blamed for something they did right. The idea of raising taxes now and dealing with spending cuts later is laughable. The Democrats have made that promise before, and the spending cuts never happened.

The problem is on both sides of the aisle–bigger government means more power concentrated in Washington. Congressmen like power. Until we elect people who put the welfare of the country before their own personal ambitions, nothing will change.

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