Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Policy Focus: The Opioid Epidemic<p> America has an opioid overdose epidemic. Opioid overdose now claims 91 American lives each day, and more than 1,000 people visit emergency rooms daily due to the misuse of opioid drugs. In August 2017, President Trump declared a National State of Emergency regarding opioid abuse.</p> <p> Opioids are drugs that act on the nervous system to reduce pain, including legal prescription drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine, as well as the illegal drug heroin. While legal opioids are safe when used properly under doctor&rsquo;s orders, they can be harmful if misused. Overdose happens by depressing the body&rsquo;s respiratory system, and breathing stops.</p> <p> Opioid addiction does not discriminate: It can happen to people of all races, all incomes, both male and female. However, addiction can have unique consequences for women, especially expectant mothers whose babies may suffer from withdrawal.</p> <p> Many factors have contributed to the recent surge in opioid addiction: Advocacy groups pressured health providers to be more aggressive in treating pain. Government policies fostered incentives for prescribing pain medications. Insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare, often covered opioids but not other pain-management treatments. And other economic factors&mdash;like joblessness&mdash;led to spikes in drug addiction as well.</p> <p> However, we may be beginning to turn the tide in the fight against opioid abuse. Education&mdash;for policymakers, doctors and patients&mdash;is the first step. Positive policy changes can help empower health providers by relieving the pressure to prescribe drugs in response to pain.&nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="http://pdf.iwf.org/the_opioid_epidemic_PF17.pdf"><img alt="" src="http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb366/IWF11/Policy%20Focus/click-for-pdf_zpspauhaxeu.png" style="width: 550px; height: 91px;" /></a></p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"> <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/361840981/The-Opioid-Epidemic-Policy-Focus#from_embed" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View The Opioid Epidemic | Policy Focus on Scribd">The Opioid Epidemic | Policy Focus</a> by <a href="https://www.scribd.com/user/330323807/Independent-Women-s-Forum#from_embed" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Independent Women's Forum's profile on Scribd">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a></p> <p> <iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_49688" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/361840981/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-11RMjjb1b8gospolndTv&amp;show_recommendations=true" title="The Opioid Epidemic | Policy Focus" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/publications/2804989/Hadley HeathTue, 17 Oct 2017 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump's executive order gives consumers real choice over healthcare • After The Bellhttp://iwf.org/media/2804957/Hadley HeathThu, 12 Oct 2017 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBipartisan agreement on healthcare might finally come, at least on this one issue<p> A bill to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board has passed out of the <a href="https://waysandmeans.house.gov/event/markup-bill-improve-seniors-access-medicare/">House Ways and Means Committee</a> with two votes from Democrats. This represents a real opportunity for bipartisan health reform in the right direction.</p> <p> IPAB is known by <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/congress-quietly-puts-a-crucial-part-of-obamacare-on-the-chopping-block/2017/10/08/5b78d188-aaa7-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html?utm_term=.dffebe899c85">its proponents</a> as a Medicare &quot;cost-cutting board&quot; and by <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/killing-obamacares-rationing-board-1435790411">its opponents</a> as a &quot;rationing board.&quot; In reality, IPAB isn&#39;t anything yet &ndash; it&#39;s never been triggered into action, and no one has been appointed to it. But it remains on the books and therefore poses a threat to patients. It concentrates great power into the hands of a few unelected bureaucrats.</p> <p> IPAB is supposed to consist of 15 appointees that serve six-year terms. The Affordable Care Act empowers IPAB to control per-capita spending in Medicare. IPAB sends its recommended Medicare budget to Congress, who has &quot;oversight,&quot; meaning super majorities in both Houses can vote to stop the IPAB recommendations and replace them with equal or greater reductions &hellip; or else the IPAB budget automatically becomes law. After 2019, even this oversight is gone.</p> <p> If IPAB reduces reimbursements for certain drugs, services, or treatments below the level that providers are willing to accept, there will be shortages. In this way, IPAB can impose a backdoor style of rationing by reducing the availability of critical health services for seniors. This is the epitome of government-run healthcare.</p> <p> How imminent is this threat? IPAB is triggered when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary predicts the program will not hit a specified budget target. The actuaries are currently predicting IPAB will be triggered for the first time in 2021. It&#39;s critical lawmakers act before this happens.</p> <p> Typically, conservatives would cheer the concept of reduced government spending, but IPAB is not the right way to do it. Fortunately, there is a better way &ndash; literally &quot;<a href="https://abetterway.speaker.gov/_assets/pdf/ABetterWay-HealthCare-PolicyPaper.pdf">A Better Way</a>,&quot; the proposal from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Ryan has long championed reforms that would convert Medicare from a defined benefit to a defined contribution program, also known as premium support.</p> <p> This means he would give seniors more control over their health dollars, allowing them to opt out of the traditional Medicare coverage for private coverage. Exposing the program to competition would hold down costs, and it would avoid the heavy hand of one-size-fits-all-style cuts that are inherent to the IPAB model.</p> <p> After a long summer of very ugly health policy debates, let&#39;s hope that lawmakers can put petty partisanship aside and come together behind the right ideas. Of course, it&#39;s important to ensure that Medicare is sustainable and that costs are controlled. But individual seniors deserve a say in this process. It shouldn&#39;t be the role of an unaccountable government board.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2804937/Hadley HeathWed, 11 Oct 2017 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPodcast #97 How the government helped create the opioid crisis<p> IWF&#39;s Hadley Heath Manning sits down with Dr. Randy Tobler, a board-certified and practicing OBGYN and CEO of Scotland County Hospital. Dr. Tobler is also host of the Randy Tobler Show, which airs out of St. Louis Talk 97.1 on Saturday mornings. Hadley and Dr. Tobler discuss the opioid crisis--what it is, why it&#39;s an issue, and what can be done to fix it.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2804929/Hadley HeathWed, 11 Oct 2017 07:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOptions would be healthy for consumers, insurance market<p> <strong>The White House is said to be finalizing a plan to expand healthcare options for consumers, but questions remain.</strong></p> <p> The executive order from President Trump <a href="https://www.onenewsnow.com/ap/politics/white-house-plans-order-to-expand-health-care-options">would reportedly expand health plans</a> offered by associations to allow individuals to pool together and buy insurance outside their states. Plans offering fewer benefits might also be allowed. The idea is to help bring down premiums and deductibles through choice and competition.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning of the </span></span><a href="http://iwf.org/"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> (IWF) sees this as an escape hatch of sorts.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;It would give people who pool in associations more freedom over what type of insurance to buy, and some of those consumers may choose to buy less coverage than what is currently required under the Affordable Care Act,&quot; she says. &quot;That&#39;s a choice that [many of us] believe consumers should have, but of course regulators at the state level and insurance carriers themselves may take issue with this because it gets in their way of their business or what they see as their role in the insurance industry.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <em>The Associated Press</em> reports this may still cause problems for the Affordable Care Act, if healthier people move toward plans with lower premiums and fewer benefits. But Manning contends there&#39;s already a lot of instability because of the difficult position in which the Affordable Care Act puts consumers.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Offering those people a third option, a plan I&#39;m sure many on the left would say is &#39;skimpy,&#39; but I would say it&#39;s more basic, it&#39;s more affordable &ndash; it may look more like catastrophic coverage,&quot; she tells OneNewsNow.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;But that option for those consumers is not only going to be good for them, it&#39;s going to be good for the insurance market overall giving people more options that fit their individual needs and preferences.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> http://iwf.org/media/2804923/Hadley HeathTue, 10 Oct 2017 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump Significantly Expands Religious Exemption For Obamacare Contraception Mandate<p> The Trump administration announced on Friday it will greatly expand the conscience exemption to Obamacare&rsquo;s contraception mandate.</p> <p> The administration&rsquo;s exemption<a href="http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/06/trump-gives-employers-power-back-over-birth-control-mandate/"> includes</a> &ldquo;any non-profit organization that have a religious or moral objection to providing contraception,&rdquo; a senior Health and Human Services official told reporters Friday. For-profit companies <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/oct/6/trump-rolls-back-obama-era-contraception-mandate/">can avoid</a> the mandate as well, based on the same religious or moral grounds.</p> <p> Under the new interim regulation, which goes into effect immediately, &ldquo;employers who assert a good-faith objection to having their insurance plans pay for contraception will be exempt so long as they notify their employees of the change, the Health and Human Services Department said,&rdquo; according to the <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/oct/6/trump-rolls-back-obama-era-contraception-mandate/">Washington Times</a>.</p> <p> &ldquo;The United States has a long history of providing conscience protections in the regulation of health care for entities and individuals with objections based on religious beliefs or moral convictions,&rdquo; the administration<a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/becketnewsite/2017-21851.pdf?utm_content=bufferdf1d0&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_source=facebook.com&amp;utm_campaign=buffer"> wrote</a> in a summary of the new rule.</p> <p> The Obama administration created an &ldquo;accommodation&rdquo; allowing churches, religiously affiliated charities, and closely-held family owned companies to apply for an exemption with HHS which triggered a process that called for third parties (typically the insurance company) to pay for the coverage.</p> <p> The Supreme Court&rsquo;s 2014 ruling in a case involving Hobby Lobby forced the administration&rsquo;s hand in providing a means for an exemption for closely-held companies that had religious objections to the contraception mandate.</p> <p> Hobby Lobby&rsquo;s insurance offered most of the 18 forms of birth control required by the mandate, but objected to providing abortion inducing drugs.</p> <p> Some religious groups including the Little Sisters of the Poor objected to the Obama administration&rsquo;s accommodation.</p> <p> The group argued the insurance plans they purchased were still the means being used to provide contraception and the costs could easily be hidden by the premiums charged.</p> <p> The case made its way to the Supreme Court with a<a href="https://www.westernjournalism.com/supreme-court-gives-win-to-little-sisters-of-poor/"> decision in May 2016 </a>calling on the government and the Little Sisters to reach an agreement whereby contraception could be provided in a way that was agreeable to both parties.</p> <p> An agreement was not reached, but Trump administration&rsquo;s new rule essentially makes the issue moot.</p> <p> The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the public interest law firm representing the Little Sisters, welcomed the administration decision.</p> <p> &ldquo;An awful lot of people who voted for this president did so believing this was going to be something he would solve,&rdquo; <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-administration-could-narrow-affordable-care-acts-contraception-mandate/2017/10/05/16139400-a9f0-11e7-92d1-58c702d2d975_story.html">said</a> Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for Becket. &ldquo;There are other ways to get contraceptives. You don&rsquo;t need to force nuns to give people contraception.&rdquo;</p> <p> The pro-life group the Susan B. Anthony List also hailed the rule change.</p> <p> &ldquo;Today President Trump delivered a huge victory for conscience rights and religious liberty in America,&rdquo; <a href="https://www.sba-list.org/newsroom/press-releases/president-trump-delivers-huge-victory-conscience-rights">said </a>SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. &ldquo;No longer will Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor be forced by the government to provide abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans. Not only that, moral objectors such as the Susan B. Anthony List will also no longer have to pay for life-ending drugs that are antithetical to their mission and for which we have argued there is certainly no &lsquo;compelling state interest.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;The Obama Administration&rsquo;s repeated violations of conscience were deeply contrary to the core of our nation, which was built on the foundation of respect for the individual freedoms of the people and deeply held religious beliefs. We thank President Trump for fulfilling a core promise to voters of faith and conscience who elected him,&rdquo; Dannenfelser added.</p> <p> The National Women&rsquo;s Law Center has promised legal action against the Trump administration over the new rule contending it will lead to large numbers of employers not providing contraception coverage.</p> <p> &ldquo;The Trump administration is treating birth control as if it&rsquo;s not even health care. We see this as part of the larger war they are waging on women&rsquo;s health,&rdquo; <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-administration-could-narrow-affordable-care-acts-contraception-mandate/2017/10/05/16139400-a9f0-11e7-92d1-58c702d2d975_story.html">said</a> Mara Gandal-Powers, senior counsel at the National Women&rsquo;s Law Center. &ldquo;For some (women), it means choosing between preventive care like contraceptives and paying their rent, their mortgage, electric bill.&rdquo;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning, director of policy with the Independent Women&rsquo;s Form, told Western Journalism to keep in mind Obamacare&rsquo;s mandates, including that for contraception, have led to higher out of pocket expenses for many.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Any purported savings for women due to this mandate should also be considered in light of the skyrocketing insurance premiums and other costs so many women have borne under the Affordable Care Act.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> An HHS official <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-administration-could-narrow-affordable-care-acts-contraception-mandate/2017/10/05/16139400-a9f0-11e7-92d1-58c702d2d975_story.html">told</a> reporters &ldquo;99.9 percent of women&rdquo; with access to free birth control through their insurance will not be affected by the new rule</p> http://iwf.org/media/2804900/Hadley HeathFri, 6 Oct 2017 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump Administration Expands Exemptions for HHS Birth Control Mandate<p> Today the Trump Administration announced a new policy (effective immediately) that will expand the exemptions available to employers who have moral objections to the ObamaCare birth control mandate. The mandate, also known as the &quot;HHS contraception mandate&quot; or sometimes &quot;HHS rule,&quot; has already sparked more than <a href="http://www.becketlaw.org/research-central/hhs-info-central/">100 legal challenges</a>. The most famous (<a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/sebelius-v-hobby-lobby-stores-inc/">Burwell v. Hobby Lobby</a> and <a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/zubik-v-burwell/">Zubik v. Burwell</a>) both led to the Supreme Court.&nbsp;</p> <p> The conflict, of course, is that the rule forces religious employers who may find birth control -- or just certain forms of it -- morally objectionnable to pay for insurance coverage for it. In this way, they are being forced, even indirectly, to pay for treatments and services that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. The Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby, and after that case closely-held corporations could opt out of the mandate. The government also tried to offer an &quot;accommodation&quot; to non-profit employers, like Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who sued the Obama Administration, but the accommodation would have still forced the Sisters to sign off on the objectionnable coverage. In this sense, it didn&#39;t accommodate them at all. So in their case (consolidated into Zubik v. Burwell) the Supreme Court offered a Per Curiam decision that said that lower courts had to mediate a solution that truly accommodated the Sisters.&nbsp;</p> <p> After all of this, however, many employers (especially those without the capacity to sue the government) still faced a conflict in the HHS contraception mandate. Should they follow the law, or follow their faith? No American should ever face such a conflict.&nbsp;</p> <p> That&#39;s why it&#39;s good news that today the Trump Administration in broadening the exemptions available for employers who object to the HHS rule. Charlotte has <a href="http://iwf.org/blog/2804901/A-Win-for-Religious-Liberty:-HHS-Narrows-Obama-Contraception-Mandate">more here.</a></p> <p> We can expect volume-eleven gnashing of teeth from left-wing women&#39;s organizations who will claim that this change guts the HHS rule and threatens women&#39;s access to birth control. This is alarmism. The HHS contraception mandate is a terribly misguided birth control policy. It assumes that all women want or need contraception (some don&#39;t), and it uses no-copay insurance coverage to pay for the drugs and devices, making it impossible for women to know the prices of various types of contraception. Some on the left will <a href="https://www.westernjournalism.com/trump-significantly-expands-religious-exemption-for-obamacare-contraception-mandate/">use the talking point</a>&nbsp;that the mandate has saved women money, but they disregard the costs that women have borne, in higher insurance premiums and other out-of-pocket costs, under the many rules of the so-called Affordable Care Act. Women still pay for birth control under the HHS mandate; we simply do so through higher insurance costs.</p> <p> Women would be much better off if more birth control options were available directly at the pharmacy, <a href="http://iwf.org/news/2803514/It's-Time-To-Make-Birth-Control-Available-Over-The-Counter">over the counter</a>, at competitive, transparent prices. This would truly put women in charge of this very personal part of health care. It would remove the conflict over religious liberty because it would remove employers from the process entirely. Ironically, those who defend the misguided HHS rule argue that a woman&#39;s birth control should not be her boss&#39;s decision. But it is exactly because of the mandate that birth control coverage is in employers&#39; hands. Scaling back this mandate is the better policy, not just for religious employers, but for the many women who choose to use birth control and deserve to be in charge of their own choices.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2804902/Hadley HeathFri, 6 Oct 2017 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSelling insurance across state lines easier said than done<p> <strong>President Trump may sign an executive order this week that allows people to purchase insurance across state lines, but consumers are being advised not to get too excited about it.</strong></p> <p> For years, critics of ObamaCare and health insurance overall have talked up the need for people to be able to purchase health insurance from any state, the idea being that it would create competition and drive-down prices. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) supports the idea and <a href="https://www.paul.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/ObamacareReplacementActSections.pdf">included it in his bill this year</a> to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Following a string of healthcare failures on Capitol Hill, President Trump <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-preparing-executive-order-to-let-americans-purchase-health-insurance-across-state-lines/article/2635808">plans to issue an order this week</a> allowing people to buy insurance across state lines.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I want to caution people to not get too excited about President Trump&#39;s executive order,&quot; warns Hadley Heath Manning, director of policy at the </span></span><a href="http://www.iwf.org/"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> (IWF). &quot;While the Affordable Care Act continues to be law, and while the federal regulations related to the Affordable Care Act continue to be law in all 50 states, there&#39;s really not a lot of room for variability in what insurance products carriers can offer.&quot;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> Yevgeniy Feyman, adjunct fellow at the <a href="https://www.manhattan-institute.org/">Manhattan Institute</a>, feels the same.</p> <p> &quot;Let&#39;s say you got rid of every possible barrier to selling insurance across state lines, you told states [they were] no longer going to regulate healthcare [but that] the federal government will and we&#39;re going to set this single, universal standard &ndash; most likely insurers wouldn&#39;t really want to do that,&quot; says Feyman.</p> <p> &quot;Insurers in New York don&#39;t really know how to build networks in Pittsburgh or in the middle of Iowa,&quot; he continues. &quot;They&#39;re not going to risk coming out there, and that&#39;s fundamentally what we&#39;ve seen under ObamaCare.&quot;</p> <p> According to Feyman, there&#39;s a way for states to sell insurance across state lines through what&#39;s known as &quot;multi-state plans,&quot; but he says those are pretty heavily regulated and not many insurers have taken that option because it&#39;s too risky.</p> <p> &quot;There&#39;s not enough people who are interested, and the potential gains aren&#39;t worth it for them,&quot; he adds.</p> <p> Meanwhile, health economist Devon Herrick wonders why this idea from Senator Paul, et al. wasn&#39;t included in recent legislation that failed to get support in the Senate. &quot;For what it&#39;s worth, [insurance across state lines] is a good idea, but it really would have been better if it had actually been tacked on and passed as part of the Graham-Cassidy proposal,&quot; he tells OneNewsNow.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2804861/Hadley HeathTue, 3 Oct 2017 07:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon’t let politics ruin ‘Saturday Night Live’<p> &ldquo;Saturday Night Live,&rdquo; now in its 43rd season, is an American pastime. The show has produced incredible talent like Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell, as well as classic sketches like those mocking &ldquo;Celebrity Jeopardy&rdquo; and the Coneheads. In modern times, the show is probably best known for its political impersonations, with actors portraying Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and, of course, President Trump.</p> <p> But the show so many Americans once loved may have surrendered its influence, and its humor, to its one-sided political obsession. This only adds to Americans&rsquo; frustration that even our weekends, whether on football fields or late-night comedy shows, are becoming increasingly politically divisive. Americans desperately need to laugh and play together, not in separate silos divided by race and politics.</p> <p> &nbsp;&ldquo;SNL&rdquo; has featured an impersonation of President Trump (or a Trump administration associate like Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer or even Steve Bannon) on nearly every episode of the 42nd season. But surely, Trump supporters and opponents alike tire of him eventually. Is there no other material out there?</p> <p> This is not to say that politics has no place in comedy. To the contrary, humor, as we also see in political cartoons, is sometimes the best way to make a point and open people&rsquo;s minds to even their own inconsistencies. Censorship or silence is not the answer. Indeed, many comedians, including Jerry Seinfield, have expressed concern at American audiences&rsquo; inability to listen to and laugh at politically incorrect jokes. That&rsquo;s a bad trend.</p> <p> And of course, the current administration invites attention. The president&rsquo;s constant tweets and comments often go beyond what&rsquo;s politically correct or appropriate. It would be absurd for &ldquo;SNL&rdquo; or any other outlet for cultural commentary to ignore the president, especially one with such a &hellip; dynamic personality. But isn&rsquo;t the cycle of Trump attacking the media and the media attacking back getting a little old? The feud has become predictable, and thus often un-funny.</p> <p> &ldquo;Saturday Night Live&rdquo; should recognize this and avoid the mistake that other late-night comedy shows have made in allowing an obsession with Trump to remake them. For example, Steven Colbert&rsquo;s anti-Trump turn might increase ratings and revenues, but it&rsquo;s not funny and also not good for the country. He&rsquo;s purged his audience of right-leaning viewers, now appealing only to the #Resistance. And now there&rsquo;s no hour of the day, no place or activity, where Americans are not divided.</p> <p> &ldquo;SNL&rdquo; is at its best when it mocks both sides of the aisle. Indeed, &ldquo;SNL&rdquo; occasionally pokes fun at liberals, as they did last season in their sketch mocking incredulous Millennials as they watched the results from Election 2016, and in their hilarious &ldquo;Slackivism&rdquo; video with Louis C.K. Let&rsquo;s hope for better balance in the 43rd season ahead.</p> <p> Some of the best sketches of the last season were light on politics altogether. And it&rsquo;s worth noting that the best episode of the season &mdash; starring Tom Hanks &mdash; was funny and effective precisely because the political commentary focused on bringing Americans together, not deriding the other side. In &ldquo;Black Jeopardy,&rdquo; Hanks played a Trump supporter who, we find out, has much more in common with his fellow contestants (all black) than anyone first thought. We could use more of that, too.</p> <p> &ldquo;SNL&rdquo; has a big stage, and a big platform. Like NFL players, many in the cast likely feel a social responsibility to use that platform for their political causes. That&rsquo;s admirable and good. But they will be more effective &mdash; and more entertaining &mdash; if they can connect with people who disagree with them.</p> <p> Americans of all political stripes need to be able to listen to and even occasionally tell a joke at our own expense. If we can&rsquo;t laugh at ourselves, we&rsquo;re boring. If we can&rsquo;t laugh together, we&rsquo;re lost. In its coming season, let&rsquo;s hope the cast of &ldquo;SNL&rdquo; will be fair and funny, by focusing on giving all Americans a much-needed laugh.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2804854/Hadley HeathFri, 29 Sep 2017 07:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLove Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Hate Cancer? Then Say No to "Universal Health Care"<p> I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She has always been hilarious, and a trailblazer. Like many women, I watched Seinfeld and admired Elaine&#39;s spunk. She kept up with funny men Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander, and made the show the classic that it is. Now Louis-Dreyfus stars in her own show, Veep.&nbsp;</p> <p> Today Louis-Dreyfus announced very sad news: She has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her announcement reads &quot;One in eight women get breast cancer. Today I&#39;m the one. The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let&#39;s fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality.&quot;</p> <p> My heart goes out to Louis-Dreyfus and her family. Cancer is non-partisan and ruthlessly attacks people on both sides of the aisle, rich or poor, in Hollywood or on Main Street. I wish it weren&#39;t so.&nbsp;</p> <p> But there&#39;s a disconnect in Louis-Dreyfus&#39;s conclusion that &quot;universal health care&quot; would improve the lot of U.S. cancer patients. The data clearly show that average breast cancer patients (and indeed, <a href="http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba596">patients with various types of cancer</a>) have long fared better in the United States than just about anywhere else in the world. This is true when we look at <a href="http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/23/3/89.full">survival </a>rates or <a href="http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2015/03/20/mortality-versus-survival-in-international-comparisons-of-cancer-care/">life expectancy after diagnosis</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;And it continues to be true today.</p> <p> I know Louis-Dreyfus means well, and it is very generous of her to use a moment of personal pain to think of the well-being of others. But the best way to ensure all American women have access to better cancer care is to reform our health policies in the opposite direction from socialized medicine.</p> <p> <span style="font-size: 12px;">Advocates of universal health care will often make the case, as it sounds like Louis-Dreyfus is doing, that only *some* American women have access to our top-notch care. They may have a point: It&#39;s not often talked about, but major U.S. cancer facilities like MD Anderson, Sloan-Kettering, and the Mayo Clinic don&#39;t accept ObamaCare plans. Like other forms of socialized medicine, Medicaid and ObamaCare offer a false promise: coverage, but no care. If we want to improve the lot of American women who aren&#39;t as fortunate as Louis-Dreyfus, let&#39;s start by reforming those programs.&nbsp;</span></p> http://iwf.org/blog/2804839/Hadley HeathThu, 28 Sep 2017 13:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBoth Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Cassidy have erred in their ongoing debate<p> Like many Americans, I&#39;m frustrated that late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel is currently having such an outsized influence on the national health policy debate. His moving story about his son Billy&#39;s health problems and his large platform have made him one of Obamacare&#39;s most important defenders, even though Kimmel is obviously no expert on health insurance markets or federal healthcare policy.</p> <p> But I can&#39;t be mad at Kimmel. He&#39;s only doing what anyone in his position might do. If you were convinced that a particular law was responsible for saving your infant child&#39;s life, or the lives of similarly situated children, you&#39;d defend it.</p> <p> Unfortunately, Kimmel is unintentionally presenting only one side of the facts when it comes to the current debate. Americans deserve to hear all sides of an issue, and all possible solutions, before making a choice about where they stand.</p> <p> Kimmel believes Obamacare has guaranteed a new right for people like his son, someone born with an expensive medical condition. <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/dont-use-jimmy-kimmels-viral-newborn-story-to-defend-obamacare/article/2621910">But in reality</a>, babies born to insured parents before Obamacare were added to their family&#39;s insurance plan at standard rates (if added within 30 days of birth).</p> <p> Of course, there are children born to parents without insurance or parents who waited beyond 30 days to add their newborn, and now that Obamacare requires that insurance companies also sell policies to those children at standard rates as well.</p> <p> While this policy certainly may be helpful to this group, we have to look at the whole picture. Any rule that requires insurers sell policies to people with expensive medical conditions at the same premiums as healthy people will destroy the incentive to buy insurance before the fact. It will create an incentive to wait until one is facing high medical bills to enroll in insurance.</p> <p> In response, healthy people will drop insurance coverage, and premiums will become more expensive on those who remain insured. More people will drop out, premiums will increase more. Ironically, this ultimately harms sick people the most, because they are most in need of insurance plans to pay their medical bills. They cannot simply drop their costly coverage.</p> <p> This is exactly what is happening under Obamacare. Kimmel and his supporters would do well to learn about how the crushing financial burden of Obamacare premiums is <a href="https://twitter.com/polishprincessh/status/910966084102246400">doing serious harm</a> to many middle-income Americans. Many have responded by dropping coverage altogether.</p> <p> The right, for better or worse, doesn&#39;t have celebrity spokespeople like the left does. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., deserves a lot of credit for joining Kimmel&#39;s show earlier in the summer to discuss healthcare. It takes guts to attempt a serious policy discussion in such an arena, and the discussion was gracious on both sides.</p> <p> But the senator made a misstep in over-promising to Kimmel that any health plan earning his support would have to provide &quot;the child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life &hellip; even if they go over a certain amount.&quot;</p> <p> This so-called &quot;Jimmy Kimmel&quot; test is impossible under any health law, whether it&#39;s <a href="https://www.vox.com/health-care/2017/5/9/15591764/jimmy-kimmel-test-ahca">Obamacare</a>, the Graham-Cassidy plan, or a single-payer system (as <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/farewell-charlie-gard-1500939295">Charlie Gard&#39;s case</a> recently showed).</p> <p> The government simply cannot guarantee that every child in every case will get every treatment that he or she needs. This is a utopian idea, not a policy platform.</p> <p> That said, we should try. We should do our very best to pass healthcare laws that provide the maximum number of families access to the very best care at the lowest costs. But we should do so in a way that considers the reality of incentives and other market forces in insurance. Obamacare failed to do this, and many have suffered in its wake.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2804794/Hadley HeathFri, 22 Sep 2017 11:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNorth Korean sanctions exhausted so what's next? • After The Bellhttp://iwf.org/media/2804756/Hadley HeathFri, 15 Sep 2017 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDoes Google Have a Wage Gap?<p> The answer to the question &quot;Does Google have a wage gap?&quot; is likely yes.</p> <p> Almost every company, government office, or nonprofit (except IWF of course!) has a wage gap between male and female employees. This is because, on average, men work longer hours and take more senior positions (likely because men less often take time out of the workforce to care for children). Even the Obama White House paid women less, and then-Press Secretary Jay Carney <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article24766093.html">defended their pay scale</a> by criticizing the data used to measure it. He said the studies &quot;looked at the aggregate of everyone on staff, and that includes from the most junior levels to the most senior.&quot;</p> <p> This is also the trouble with the latest headline about alleged pay discrimination at Google: incomplete data. Employees put together a spreadsheet with pay information, and the spreadsheet suggests that women are paid less. The spreadsheet actually *does* attempt to correct for different levels of seniority, and a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/technology/google-salaries-gender-disparity.html?mcubz=1&amp;_r=0">New York Times analysis</a> of the data shows women are paid less at five of six levels. But seniority isn&#39;t the only factor to consider: There&#39;s location, performace, role, tenure, and other factors that could influence how women and men are paid at Google (just as these factors influence how people are paid everywhere).&nbsp;</p> <p> Take a look at IWF&#39;s wage gap video for a refresher course on how to interpret aggregate wage gaps:</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FgOS7NeS1aw" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> We should not jump to conclusions because a wage gap appears. Google, like any employer, should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.</p> <p> Of course, this is not to say that gender-based wage discrimination never takes place. Sadly, it does. And it&#39;s illegal. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 both outlaw sex-based wage discrimination, and those who violate these laws should be prosecuted to the fullest extent.</p> <p> The Google employees&#39; spreadsheet deserves further scrutiny, but at first glance, it&#39;s not a complete picture of pay at Google. &nbsp;</p> <p> This incident actually supports a recent move by the Trump Administration to <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/451156/eeoc-rule-new-york-times-opinion-writer-slams-ivanka">rescind a pending rule from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission</a> that would have gathered data on groups of workers based on race and sex. This data might be interesting, but without context, it&#39;s not evidence of discrimination. However, we know from experience that there are those who seek to mislead women by jumping on every perceived inequality without pausing to ask important questions.</p> <p> In other words: Does Google have a wage gap? Likely yes. Does Google discriminate against women? That&#39;s a different question. But a raw wage gap alone certainly isn&#39;t enough evidence to say yes.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2804746/Hadley HeathFri, 15 Sep 2017 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSanders’s single-payer plan overpromises on health care — again<p> Americans are familiar with political promises on health care: lower costs, universal coverage, more fairness, more choice and so forth. Sadly, we are also used to these promises being broken, time and time again. But that doesn&rsquo;t stop politicians from making ever-greater promises to create an utopian healthcare system where all Americans get all the care they need without any significant costs or downsides.</p> <p> The latest such proposal is Sen. <a href="http://thehill.com/people/bernie-sanders">Bernie Sanders</a>&rsquo;s <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/350400-bernie-sanders-now-is-the-time-to-extend-medicare-to-everyone">&ldquo;Medicare for all&rdquo; plan</a>. It would create a single-payer health system where the federal government pays all health bills for all citizens, and it would be funded by trillions of dollars of tax increases. The <a href="https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/2000785-The-Sanders-Single-Payer-Health-Care-Plan.pdf">projected 10-year cost</a> of his plan is $32 trillion. (That&rsquo;s $32,000,000,000,000.)</p> <p> Although Congress just comprehensively reformed our national health policy in 2010 with the Affordable Care Act, the issue is once again ripe for discussion. America has arguably the best quality of health-care services available in the world, but many Americans across the political spectrum are rightly frustrated with our convoluted health-care payment structure today.</p> <p> Most Americans do not choose their own insurance plan but accept the one their employer offers, thereby also accepting the provider network associated with the insurance plan. This means we have very little consumer choice. Even then, we don&rsquo;t know what to expect to pay when we consume health services, because in addition to unaffordable (and ever-increasing) insurance premiums, we face additional out-of-pocket costs and unclear, confusing prices.</p> <p> But single payer is not the answer. History shows us that projections often underestimate the costs and overestimate the benefits of government healthcare programs.</p> <p> Take Medicare as an example: Medicare, which began in 1965, was initially expected to cost <a href="http://www.investors.com/medicare-medicaid-anniversary-reminds-us-of-programs-failures/?mc_cid=99d0060fea&amp;mc_eid=22cfe9edbc">$9 billion</a> annually by 1990. This initial cost projection was woefully inaccurate. The actual annual cost of the program in 1990 was $67 billion, and last year (2016), the U.S. spent <a href="http://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/the-facts-on-medicare-spending-and-financing/">$588 billion</a> on Medicare alone.</p> <p> Sen. Sanders wisely bases his single-payer plan on Medicare because the program has <a href="http://www.benefitspro.com/2015/03/31/high-satisfaction-with-medicare?slreturn=1505275289">high satisfaction ratings</a> and has traditionally been able to sweep its budgetary problems under the rug. But a peek under the rug reveals a hole threatening to suck the entire federal budget into it. The program is expected to be <a href="https://www.americanactionforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2017-07-13-Trustees-Report-Medicare-.pdf">bankrupt by 2029</a>.</p> <p> Medicare&rsquo;s ballooning budget is a concern, and not just for fiscal conservatives on the right. Democrats tacitly admitted Medicare needed budget controls when they passed the Affordable Care Act, which included the Independent Payment Advisory Board or IPAB.</p> <p> This unelected board will be tasked with reducing per-capita Medicare spending, which will inevitably mean lower reimbursements to health providers for certain services they provide to Medicare-insured seniors. &nbsp;This will result in backdoor rationing of health services as prices dip below what many providers will accept. The IPAB process has not yet been triggered, but Medicare&rsquo;s actuaries estimate that this will happen in 2021.</p> <p> The Affordable Care Act has also failed to live up to expectations: This summer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services updated their per-capita cost projections for the Medicaid expansion to be <a href="https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/charles-blahous/surpassing-expectations-projected-medicaid-expansion-costs-just-rose">50 percent higher</a> than previous projections. And as private insurance premiums continue to rise at <a href="https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/health-plan-choice-and-premiums-2017-health-insurance-marketplace">double-digit rates each year</a>, so do the costs of the ACA premium-assistance tax credits and subsidies for income-eligible consumers in the exchanges.</p> <p> The coverage projections for the ACA were also off. The Congressional Budget Office projected that 24 million Americans would enroll in the law&rsquo;s exchanges in 2017. How many people actually did? Only half of that: <a href="http://freebeacon.com/issues/12-2-million-signed-obamacare-2017-half-cbo-projected/">12.2 million</a>. The overall coverage figures only appear larger when Medicaid&rsquo;s exploding enrollment is considered.</p> <p> Of course, there are problems in the way we pay for health insurance, and those lawmakers and advocates who suggest change are doing so with good intentions. We need more choices and lower costs (which will only come as a result of market competition). Single payer would only take us in the opposite direction, eliminating market competition and choice, and driving up costs until the inevitable result &mdash; restricted access through rationing. This is the case in other nations with single-payer, and it may soon be the case with Medicare if the IPAB process is triggered.</p> <p> Given the problems in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, Americans should hesitate before falling for yet another expansion of government in the business of paying for health-care services.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2804726/Hadley HeathWed, 13 Sep 2017 14:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSingle Payer Would Mean Higher Costs, Lower Quality<p> This week Sen. Bernie Sanders is unveiling his &quot;Medicare for all&quot; healthcare bill, which would, as the name implies, allow all Americans to enroll in Medicare. Given the challenges facing ObamaCare, many on both the left and right are looking for better ways to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care.</p> <p> There&#39;s only one problem: Medicare-for-all wouldn&#39;t do that. Medicare for all is the latest euphemism for single-payer health care (which is the language the left has used since &quot;socialized medicine&quot; went out of vogue). This latest rebranding is misleading, but it&#39;s intentional: Majorities of seniors report being satsified with Medicare, and Medicare provides a higher level of healthcare access than its cousin for the poor, Medicaid. But advocates of &quot;Medicare for all&quot; -- including Sen. Sanders -- paint a false utopian picture instead of what would ultimately look more like &quot;Medicaid for all&quot; at best, or DMV-style health care at worst.&nbsp;</p> <p> Single-payer health systems all have a few factors in common: <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/single-payer-health-care-would-have-an-astonishingly-high-price-tag/2017/06/18/9c70dae6-52d2-11e7-be25-3a519335381c_story.html?utm_term=.487d434c57b1">high taxation</a> for funding, <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446689/canada-single-payer-health-care-system-failures-cautionary-tale">government rationing</a> of health services through <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/charlie-gards-case-highlights-balancing-act-facing-u-k-courts-1500975002">cost-benefit data</a>, long <a href="http://www.pacificresearch.org/wait-times-and-single-payer-health-care/">wait times</a> and <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/health-40886598">low quality</a> of services. While some advocates of single payer emphasize that private options could continue to operate alongside a government payer (despite the name &quot;single payer&quot;), that&#39;s not likely to help large swaths of Americans who won&#39;t be able to afford anything other than the public option. Yes, in some countries with single payer, a two-tiered system has emerged where privileged, wealthy people can escape the public system for better care.&nbsp;</p> <p> For more information, watch this video from The Steamboat Institute:</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="301" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JYZ8d2Zio1s" width="536"></iframe></p> <p> These realities don&#39;t stop some on the Left from intentionally misleading on the subject. In today&#39;s New York Times, columnist David Leonhardt <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/opinion/5-questions-about-single-payer-health-care.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion-columnists">applauds single payer</a>&nbsp;(in commentary disguised as Q and A). In answering the question &quot;Does single payer work well in other countries?&quot; Leonhardt says:</p> <blockquote> Generally, yes, it works very well. Costs are lower across Europe, Canada and Australia, where government plays a bigger role in medical care than here, and citizens in many of those places live longer than Americans. This is the single best argument for single-payer.</blockquote> <p> Well, I&#39;m so glad this is the best argument for single payer because it&#39;s also a very easy one to debunk. In fact, this argument has been <a href="https://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA547ComparativeHealth.html">debunked</a> <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2011/11/23/the-myth-of-americans-poor-life-expectancy/#4367fe312b98">many</a> <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448099/americas-lagging-life-expectancy-dont-blame-health-care">times</a>.</p> <p> Life expectancy is not a good metric for the quality of health care available. Even within the U.S., life expectancies <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/08/health/life-expectancy-by-county-study/index.html">vary greatly</a> between counties. And sadly for liberals (and for everyone), life expectancy has actually gone down in the U.S. on average since ObamaCare became law. But can we think of <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/healthcare-system-not-to-blame-for-dip-in-life-expectancy/article/2609211">a few reasons</a> people in other countries might live longer than the average American? Violence? Car fatalities? Drug addiction? Lifestyle choices? There&#39;s little that American health providers can do to make more Americans drive safely or exercise more. This is outside of their scope. Sure, doctors can tell you to eat healthy (they do!) but they can&#39;t enforce it. And God forbid the government ever have that kind of power. Broccoli mandate, anyone?</p> <p> Cubans have <a href="http://ais.paho.org/chi/brochures/2012/BI_2012_ENG.pdf">longer</a> life expectancies than Americans. But check out&nbsp;<a href="http://www.therealcuba.com/?page_id=77">these photos</a> from real-life Cuban healthcare facilities. Which would you choose -- to go to the doctor there, or in the U.S.?</p> <p> Better metrics exist for measuring the quality of care available to Americans. For example, we might compare life expectancies <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2011/11/23/the-myth-of-americans-poor-life-expectancy/#4367fe312b98">after the diagnosis of cancer,</a> or another major illness, or life expectancy for <a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199511023331824#t=article">older people</a>, and what do you know? We find that the U.S. wins every time. It&#39;s only due to the absence of a one-size-fits-none government-run health system that the U.S. can continue to treat each patient as a valuable individual. Don&#39;t be fooled by calls for Medicare for all, or single payer. Our health insurance markets desperately need more competition, not less.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2804706/Hadley HeathMon, 11 Sep 2017 16:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum