Obama's Health Care Fix Problematic
According to the Obama Administration, 106,185 people have signed up for health insurance on federal or state exchanges. This number is just 1.5 percent of the administration’s goal of enrolling 7 million people by the end of 2013. The low enrollment is due in part to the problems that have plagued the healthcare.gov Web site.
Along with the Web site issues and lack of enrollees, millions of people have had their insurance plans canceled due to the federal health care law. Avik Roy, a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, points out on his Forbes.com blog The Apothecary: “In the market for individually-purchased health insurance, more than 4.8 million Americans have received notices that their preexisting plans are soon to be illegal, and will be cancelled. Many more cancellation notices are imminent.”
As a result, President Obama on Thursday proposed administrative changes that would force insurers to un-cancel millions of health care plans that were forced out of the marketplace by the Affordable Care Act. America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP) President and CEO Karen Ignagni warned, “Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers. Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption of when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace. If due to these changes fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase in the marketplace and there will be fewer choices for consumers. Additional steps must be taken to stabilize the marketplace and mitigate the adverse impact on consumers.”
Some experts already have said Obama’s proposed “fix” may not be legal and may require Congressional action. These problems should worry state officials as they continue to debate health care policies such as Medicaid expansion and reform in their own states.
This week’s edition of The Leaflet features research and commentary addressing health policy post Obamacare, e-cigarettes in Oregon, FCC policy thinking, young vs. old borrowing responsibility, expanded school lunch, and solar forcing of climate.
Director – Government Relations
The Heartland Institute
Heartland Daily Podcast: Health Policy Post Obamacare
On Heartland’s Daily podcast, Senior Fellow Benjamin Domenech was interviewed about health policy post Obamacare. Ten Senators are endorsing a mandate to further delay the implementation of the federal Obamcare exchange because it is not ready. Obamacare will not work, Domenech says.
Where do the proposed solutions fall along the political spectrum? Domenech asserts three separate factions are forming: the Democrats who believe Obamacare had not been implemented to its fullest extent, Republicans who want to repeal it completely and the middle, who would like to reform Obamacare. The 2014 election will highlight candidates’ platforms on this issue. In order for Republicans to win over voters they need to describe a reform, not simply demand a repeal of Obamacare.
Although the general consensus believes the Republicans do not have a unifying platform that refutes Obamacare, Domenech believes the consensus is wrong. Conservatives generally agree on a broad platform: end the tax bias in favor of individuals with employer-sponsored health insurance, reform medical malpractice, further subsidize high-risk pools (which would still cost less than Obamcare), allow competition among insurers, and reform the Food and Drug Administration. The task for Republicans is to popularize their short, sweet, free-market reform in order to win over the middle.
Research & Commentary: Oregon Electronic Cigarette Tax
Budget & Tax
The Oregon Legislature is considering a bill to place an excise tax on electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes.” Currently, Minnesota is the only state with an excise tax on e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes have become one of the most popular nicotine replacement products, with the total market expected to reach $1.7 billion this year. Proponents of the proposed tax in Oregon argue the nicotine in the vapor is a drug that requires regulation and taxation.
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans examines electronic cigarettes and efforts to regulate their sale. In the commentary Glans argues Minnesota’s new tax places an excessive burden on e-cigarettes, disrupting an increasingly popular and successful method of helping Americans reduce or quit smoking. Oregon should avoid making the same mistake, he says. “Until the FDA decides how it will regulate these products, Oregon should resist preemptively imposing taxes and regulations and instead focus on logical measures such as expanding existing age restrictions to e-cigarettes.”
Real vs. Contrived "Modern" FCC Policy Thinking
In this Heartlander piece originally published on the Precursor Blog, Scott Cleland critiques a new paper from former FCC chairman Reed Hundt and Greg Rosst, “Articulating a Modern Approach to FCC Competition Policy.” The paper attempts to provide possible policy changes that would modernize existing communications law and the Federal Communications Commission.
Cleland argues the paper makes a key mistake: It tries to use the archaic laws of the current FCC as the basis for modern communications law. Cleland argues the current system is based on outmoded technology and failed policies that should be tossed out, not used as the basis for future laws and regulations.
“Just like the wisdom that one cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear; one cannot make ‘modern’ FCC policy from obsolete communications law,” writes Cleland.
Report: Young Borrowers More Responsible than Older Borrowers
Finance, Insurance and Real Estate
Natalie Rutledge of LowCards.com, writes in the Heartlander about the common perception that young adults are financially irresponsible. A new study finds this may not be true. Rutledge examines the study, from Arizona State University, which suggests college-aged credit card users are more responsible borrowers than their middle-aged counterparts.
The ASU study found cardholders between the ages of 18 and 25 were not only the least likely to default on their credit cards, they were also more likely to develop strong credit profiles in the future.
The study flipped conventional wisdom on its head, finding, “young borrowers are the least experienced financially and, conventionally, thought to be most prone to financial mistakes. Our results challenge the notion that young borrowers are bad borrowers.”
Column: School Lunch Expansion: Another Wasteful, Unaffordable Entitlement
Soon, all public schools will be allowed to enroll all students, regardless of need, into a new federal entitlement: “free” school lunches. This is the second year of a three-year rollout for the program, embedded in Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
Outside the obvious insanity of creating a new entitlement program – even for people who can afford it on their own – right after the government shutdown because it couldn’t afford existing entitlement programs, Research Fellow Joy Pullmann highlights several more inefficiencies and unintended consequences of this program.
Research & Commentary: Solar Forcing of Climate
In its series of assessment reports reviewing the latest climate science, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded solar forcings (the changes in the average amount of solar energy absorbed per square meter of Earth’s area) are too small to explain twentieth century warming. They infer carbon dioxide must be responsible for the remainder.
However, the IPCC has failed to consider the importance of the demonstrated empirical relationship among solar activity, the ingress of galactic cosmic rays, and the formation of low clouds. The IPCC also ignores x-ray, ultraviolet, and magnetic flux variation, the latter having particularly important implications for the modulation of galactic cosmic ray influx and low cloud formation.
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