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McClaughry: A state health insurance purchase mandate?

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first_imgby John McClaughry The House and Senate health care committee chairs in Montpelier are pondering new adventures in health care policy for 2018. High on their list is a Vermont individual insurance mandate. The mandate to purchase government-approved insurance has had a four year run in Washington. It was made a cornerstone of Obamacare because older people are sicker than young people.  If health insurance premiums are set according to an age group’s risk of incurring medical expenses, the premiums for sixty-year olds will be as much as five times the premiums for twenty-year olds. But when the small business and individual insurance pool is community rated (as Vermont’s has been since 1993), all policy holders must be charged the same premium for the same coverage regardless of age. Thus young, healthy people will be made to pay far above their age group’s expected medical expenses. Their (under 65) grandparents will pay far less than their age group’s expenses.Faced with far higher premium costs, many young healthy people simply “go bare” without insurance. Without the young, healthy people in the pool, the increasingly older (and sicker) pool will require ever rising premiums. This leads to the “death spiral”. To prevent this, the government has to use compulsion to keep the young and healthy in and paying. That’s the individual mandate.Starting in 2019, Congress’s repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate will relieve young healthy Vermonters of the threat of a tax of $695, or 2.5% of income, for not buying a Federal government-approved health plan.Senator Claire Ayer and Rep. William Lippert do not want those people to drop their insurance. They are seriously considering shutting off this exit ramp for the young and healthy by creating a Vermont individual mandate to buy state-approved insurance. Then the young and healthy would continue subsidizing the premiums of the older and sicker.This is “Robin Hood in Reverse”. The State requires young people starting off in life, at the bottom rung of their lifetime income ladder, paying off education loans, planning to raise a family and buy a home, to subsidize people forty years older, at the top of their lifetime earnings, their children grown and gone, and their mortgage paid off.Whenever a proposal for a state purchase mandate raises its head, the first question one should ask is, “Or else what?”Will the State levy a tax on you for not buying health insurance, like the now repealed ObamaCare provision? Will it take away an income tax exemption? Will it confiscate your income tax refund? Will it garnish your wages? Will it suspend your professional or business license? Your hunting and fishing license? Your driver’s license?Lippert notes that Massachusetts has had a state insurance mandate since 2007. The enforcement mechanism there is a denial of the personal income tax exemption. However the new Federal tax bill abolishes the personal exemptions used in computing Federal taxable income, which is used for Vermont income tax purposes. To deny those exemptions would require Vermont to create them, which would require major changes in how Vermont taxes income.There is, however, a far better way than invoking state power to mandate that all Vermonters purchase insurance. It is to hold uninsured persons personally responsible for paying the medical bills they incur. We have long done this for “deadbeat dads” who won’t make court-ordered child support payments.Since 1994 the Ethan Allen Institute has advocated “income tax-based recapture for unpaid medical bills run up by persons who choose to spend their resources on things other than adequate health insurance. Mandating that people buy health insurance of the state’s choice is an invasion of their freedom, but on the other hand, there is plenty of justification for dunning people who run up medical costs and expect others to cover them through higher premiums.”Under the personal responsibility alternative, the uninsured patient would be required to pay down an unpaid balance through income-tax payments year after year until it is retired.This says to the person who prefers not to obtain insurance: “Your government will not fine you for failing to buy health insurance. But if you are unlucky enough to run up a big medical bill that you can’t pay from your assets, you will be paying a piece of it off every year at tax time, possibly for the rest of your life. Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer to protect against that by investing in a high-deductible insurance policy with limited mandates, with a cap on out-of-pocket payments, and with your own tax-free Health Savings Account?”A state insurance purchase mandate is a repugnant to individual liberty. Holding people responsible for the medical expenses they incur is not an invasion of liberty. The choice couldn’t be more clear.John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org(link is external)).last_img read more

NFL players, owners hold ‘constructive’ talks on issues

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first_img Published: October 17, 2017 10:25 PM EDT SHARE Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. NFL players, owners hold ‘constructive’ talks on issues NEW YORK (AP) NFL players and owners held an unusual meeting Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session both sides termed positive and productive.What was not discussed at any length was the divisive topic of the national anthem that has caught the attention of President Donald Trump.“We spent today talking about issues that the players are trying to bring attention to,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “That was the entire focus.”Asked if the players committed to standing during the anthem, Goodell responded: “We did not ask for that.”A group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at the league’s headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.“We heard what they had to say and they heard us,” Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. “It’s open talks and that’s a good thing.”The NFL’s policy on the national anthem did not come up. That policy states that the players “should” stand for the anthem, and some have suggested the league would seek to change that to “must” stand. Goodell said in a memo to the teams last week that the NFL prefers for players to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”“Very little of the meeting was about the actual anthem,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “We were really more talking about solutions and how we get the results that we want to get.”Ross called the session “constructive,” and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed it “positive.”Goodell spoke briefly before heading to further league meetings. He emphasized the commitment on the part of the players and the NFL “to work together on issues of social justice.”“Our players are men of great character,” he added, “and they have a deep understanding and tremendous knowledge of the issues going on in all our communities. This is something our owners said we want to support you in.”Butler, who played Monday night in Nashville before attending the meeting hours later, said both sides are headed in the right direction. He said the players delivered “our perspective. Obviously it’s a different perspective. I think that’s the most important thing when it comes to these issues is perspective and respecting everyone’s rights regardless of how they feel.”The players’ union and the league issued a joint statement just before the annual fall owners meetings began. The owners meetings continue Wednesday, when the anthem could be discussed.“Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities,” the statement said. “NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.“As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military. In the best American tradition, we are coming together to find common ground and commit to the hard work required for positive change.”On hand at the meeting were Goodell and the league’s football operations chief, former player Troy Vincent; and owners Michael Bidwill (Arizona), Arthur Blank (Atlanta), Terry Pegula (Buffalo), Robert McNair (Houston), Shad Khan (Jacksonville), Ross, Robert Kraft (New England), John Mara (New York Giants), Art Rooney (Pittsburgh), Jeffrey Lurie (Philadelphia) and Jed York (San Francisco).Representing the players were NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, union president Eric Winston, former player Anquan Boldin, and current players Butler (Indianapolis), Russell Okung (Los Angeles Chargers), Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas and Michael Thomas (Miami), Mark Herzlich (New York Giants), Kelvin Beachum and Demario Davis (New York Jets), Jenkins and Chris Long (Philadelphia), Eric Reid (San Francisco) and Josh Norman (Washington).Jenkins has been one of the leading spokesmen among the players, as well as highly active in the community. He said the discussion was about “everything to do with the state of the NFL now, obviously anthem protests, activism that players have been doing, and how we can move this forward to really amplify players’ voices and amplify these issues and make some long sustainable changes.”“I’m not sure we’re close to a resolution, but conversations are ongoing,” he added. “It went from just phone calls to obviously this is the first time meeting. So I don’t think we could come up with a whole plan and solution in two hours, but we are happy that these things are happening. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to really put a good plan together.”Earlier, outside of the hotel where the owners are meeting, two dozen supporters of Black Lives Matter New York held a rally backing the players for speaking out – particularly former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem last year in protest of racial injustice in America. Demonstrations during the anthem increased when Trump called the players unpatriotic if they knelt during the anthem, with both players and league executives saying the meaning of the protests has been misconstrued by the president and his supporters.At a game earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium after several 49ers knelt during the anthem.Jenkins said after the meeting that Kaepernick had been invited by the players but didn’t attend.Also Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was confronted by two people in the lobby of the Manhattan hotel where the owners are meeting. The protesters shouted at him about the issue of white supremacy while Jones was surrounded by bodyguards. Jones stopped to listen but said nothing, and the protesters were peacefully led away.last_img read more

IMF chief visits Nigeria amid decreased oil prices

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first_imgInternational Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director, Christine Lagarde is in Nigeria on a 4-day visit to advise Africa’s largest oil producer on how to recover from the shock of falling oil prices on the international market.The oil price has slid to $37 a barrel, a tough feat for Nigeria where 70% of revenue is realized through oil sales internationally.Lagarde is meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and newly installed Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun.The Nigerian President recently announced a record budget for 2016. He plans to triple expenditure in a move to help the country adjust to the downturn in oil, which lost almost two-thirds of its value in the last year.Nigeria’s Central Bank has also issued a directive restricting the use of debit and credit cards abroad as a temporary measure to limit the flow of foreign currency out of the country.Nigeria’s currency Naira has also weakened further against the dollar, this on the heels of a forecast that announced a budget deficit of 2.2 trillion naira, about $11-billion.Lagarde will deliver a speech to lawmakers from Nigeria’s National Assembly and will also meet with business leaders during the visit. Also on the agenda for the IMF chief is a meeting with finance ministers from the six member nations of the economic and monetary community of Central Africa – CEMAC – she’ll address hat group on January 8th.last_img read more

Safely Dispose Of Unused Prescription Drugs

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first_imgStory as aired: Saturday, October 28th, is the 14th National Drug Take Back Day.  The National Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for abuse of medications. The drugs are transferred to the Alaska Drug Enforcement Unit in Anchorage for disposal. Last April, Americans turned in 450 tons of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites. In coordination with the event liquids and needles cannot be accepted, only pills or patches.The Soldotna Professional Pharmacy is hosting a drug take back day event, on October 28, from 10-2pm. Items can be dropped off for disposal directly at the pharmacy.center_img Change 4 the Kenai has partnered up with Soldotna Pharmacy for the event this year. Each person that drops off an unused or expired prescription will receive a $5 coffee card. FacebookTwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享National Drug Take Back Day is an Opportunity for Alaskans to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs.  The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.last_img read more