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 RSS System Not To Blame For Dip In Life Expectancy<p> The federal government has just released a report showing that for the first time in decades, U.S. life expectancy rates have dipped, <a href="">from 78.9 to 78.8 years</a>. But it would be unfair to blame Obamacare or the U.S. healthcare system for this sad news.</p> <p> Many lies were told before the passage of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. One lie was that the U.S. healthcare system was somehow inferior. This argument was mostly built on illegitimate international comparisons in infant mortality and life expectancy.</p> <p> The problem with the infant mortality comparison is that countries use wildly different measurement methods. The problem with the life expectancy comparison is that life expectancy depends on a host of variables and isn&#39;t a true reflection of the quality of a nation&#39;s healthcare system. That was true then, and it&#39;s true now.</p> <p> The American healthcare system may be superior to other nations in some ways: We have some of the <a href="">world&#39;s best cancer survival rates</a>, which means our doctors are good at helping people survive even the most aggressive of attacks on the body.</p> <p> But there are cultural factors that limit doctors&#39; ability to help Americans live longer. Our obesity rates <a href="">far outpace other nations</a>. This contributes to heart disease, strokes, diabetes and other illnesses that cut lives short. Also, more Americans, sadly, are dying from unintentional injuries <a href="">and suicide</a>. This could be related to <a href="">drug abuse</a>, or even economic factors such as joblessness or financial strain.</p> <p> It would be politically convenient for conservatives to use this latest news to say that Obamacare has cut American lives short. But it would not be fair. There are plenty of ways that the misguided 2010 law has caused Americans pain: Higher premiums, smaller doctor networks, canceled insurance plans and so forth.</p> <p> Indeed, it&#39;s possible &mdash; even probable &mdash; that the law has indirectly resulted in poorer health outcomes and lower quality of care due to its rearrangement of insurance coverage and its interference in the medical world. But Obamacare critics should use other metrics to make this case and leave life expectancy out of it.</p> <p> The real takeaway from today&#39;s news about longevity is that Americans, on the whole, should look after ourselves better. Drive safely, avoid drug abuse, eat better, exercise more and rest when needed. As always, these are individual responsibilities, not responsibilities of some faceless &quot;system&quot; or government.</p> HeathFri, 9 Dec 2016 08:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDakota Pipeline Dispute: Is It Being Overpoliticized? • Coast To Coast HeathWed, 7 Dec 2016 13:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWould Trump Appoint A Businessman As Secretary Of State? • After The Bell HeathTue, 6 Dec 2016 13:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumStudents Now Want "Sanctuary" From Debt • After The Bell HeathTue, 6 Dec 2016 13:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCampaigns Continue To Clash Over Election Results--Time To Move On? • Risk & Reward HeathFri, 2 Dec 2016 10:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShould Electoral College Vote Their Conscience? • Your World HeathFri, 25 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCutting Corporate & Individual Taxes Will Help Businesses of All Sizes • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 19 Nov 2016 10:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLong-Term, Pro-Growth Policies Will Benefit Americans More Than Short-Term Fixes • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 19 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWe Cannot Let Political Correctness Get In The Way Of National Security • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 19 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRepealing The ACA Would End The Medicaid Expansion -- And That's A Good Thing<p> Repealing the Affordable Care Act is a top priority for President-elect Trump. The Left is already sounding alarms, with many pointing to the millions of newly insured Americans who benefit from the law.</p> <p> It&#39;s right to be concerned about the fate of those who&#39;ve enrolled in the Affordable Care Act. But it&#39;s also important to understand what the Affordable Care Act&#39;s insurance expansion actually was: For the most part, it was a large-scale expansion of Medicaid, the federal government&#39;s health insurance program for the poor.</p> <p> While enrollment for the law&#39;s exchanges has been disappointing, a new analysis of state projections shows Medicaid expansion resulted in enrollment levels <a href="">110 percent higher</a> than expected.</p> <p> Indeed, nationwide Medicaid enrollment has <a href="">increased by 15 million</a> since the Affordable Care Act was passed. The majority of people that Democrats count as newly insured by the law are actually insured by Medicaid &mdash; a government program, not private plans.</p> <p> This is relevant as the healthcare debate continues, because taxpayers who fund Medicaid (and subsidies for plans in the Affordable Care Act exchanges) deserve to know what bang they are getting for their buck.</p> <p> Medicaid is notorious for low and slow reimbursement to healthcare providers, which means patients often face limited options for doctors (many of whom won&#39;t accept Medicaid, or limit the percent of patients they see with Medicaid), and <a href="">end up waiting longer for needed care</a>.</p> <p> Several studies since Medicaid expansion <a href="">show that these patients</a> end <a href="">up in emergency departments</a>, often seeking care for non-acute medical problems. This is sad evidence of the hardship that many Medicaid patients face in getting doctors&#39; appointments. And it&#39;s dangerous for patients who are truly facing emergencies, as congested ERs make it harder to treat everyone.</p> <p> It&#39;s no surprise that Medicaid patients are diagnosed later with health problems and end up with inferior outcomes compared to privately insured patients. And many, perhaps up to 50 percent, of Medicaid enrollees under the Affordable Care Act were privately insured before the expansion made them eligible.</p> <p> This is called the <a href="">crowd-out rate</a>. In other words, the law moved millions of Americans from private health insurance (and access to superior healthcare) into a public program known for providing worse outcomes.</p> <p> In fact, other data suggests that Medicaid patients do no better or are sometimes even <a href="">worse off than the uninsured</a>. And Medicaid&#39;s performance is likely to be getting worse, not better, as the expansion puts further strain on a program that was dysfunctional even before millions of new enrollees were added.</p> <p> Low-income Americans deserve much better than to be dumped into Medicaid and used as political hostages in the healthcare debate. Conservatives who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something better should ensure a smooth transition for those who are currently relying on the law&#39;s unkeepable promises.</p> <p> But we should keep the dire warnings that Affordable Care Act repeal will take away health insurance benefits from millions in perspective: How much is that coverage really worth if it doesn&#39;t translate to quality healthcare and improved outcomes?</p> HeathFri, 18 Nov 2016 14:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPrivate Donations In Pence's Name Show Why Planned Parenthood Should Be Defunded<p> Pro-abortion women have figured out <a href="">they can donate to Planned Parenthood in the name of Vice President-elect Pence</a>, and he will get a certificate mailed to him for each donation. Pence, who defunded Planned Parenthood in Indiana, is staunchly pro-life.</p> <p> The ironic thing? These donations illustrate exactly how Planned Parenthood should be funded. Private donors who support the mission of the women&#39;s health organization (or abortion giant, depending on how you see it) can send their money to support the cause. Taxpayers, on the other hand, shouldn&#39;t have to contribute to an enterprise that many find morally unconscionable.</p> <p> Americans will debate the importance of Planned Parenthood in the coming months as Republicans maintain control of the House and Senate, while President-elect Trump and Pence take over as heads of the executive branch.</p> <p> On one hand, Planned Parenthood&#39;s opponents will point out that the organization champions abortion and leads the country in the number of abortions performed. It also advocates on LGBTQ issues and sex education, and many taxpayers don&#39;t want to be forced to fund an organization that takes progressive positions on hot-button cultural issues.</p> <p> On the other hand, supporters will say the group provides other services. Planned Parenthood doles out contraception and counseling, and provides breast exams (but <a href="">not mammograms</a>) and some screening for sexually transmitted diseases.</p> <p> Indeed, providing low-income women (and men) with healthcare services is a noble cause, but not every noble cause should be funded by the government. Many private donors have supported countless charitable clinics and pregnancy-resource centers for decades.</p> <p> Planned Parenthood should be no different &mdash; it should be privately funded. On average, Planned Parenthood receives <a href="">$500 million a year in government money</a>. That&#39;s 43 percent of its total revenues. But as a darling of the Left (including wealthy Hollywood mega-stars like <a href="">Amy Schumer</a> and Katy Perry, <a href="">who just gave $10,000</a>), the organization should have no problem raising donations to replace taxpayer funding.</p> <p> Let&#39;s hope Pence holds on to each of those certificates that he&#39;s received marking recent donations to Planned Parenthood. He can subtract, dollar-for-dollar, from public funding for the group. His office can send thank-you notes to all of the donors who helped to establish that Planned Parenthood can stand on its own two feet, not needing a dime more from taxpayers like you and me.</p> HeathTue, 15 Nov 2016 13:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDem Voters In Colorado Fear Socialized Medicine<p> <strong>Colorado&#39;s rejection of single-payer healthcare is something that one health expert believes other states and the federal government should pay close attention to.</strong></p> <p> Amendment 69 would have created something known as ColoradoCare. Despite endorsements from former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), along with Leftist filmmaker Michael Moore, <a href="">the people of Colorado voted an overwhelming &quot;No&quot;</a> on the measure to enforce it.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I think the voters of Colorado made a good decision,&quot; expressed Hadley Heath Manning, who serves with the Colorado-based </span></span><a href=""><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;">. &quot;I&#39;m sure &ndash; for many different reasons &ndash; some voters were probably concerned about the budgetary impact. Some voters were [also] probably concerned about the impact on our state&#39;s healthcare system &ndash; and all those are valid concerns &ndash; and this is a repudiation of government-run healthcare &hellip; and something I hope other states and the federal government will pay attention to.&quot;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Another thing that is noteworthy is the fact that the state of Colorado was not overwhelmingly Republican in the election.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;We re-elected a Democratic senator, the state&#39;s electoral college votes are in Clinton&#39;s favor, and yet even a state that has a majority of voters choosing Democratic candidates voted heavily against this state-run healthcare issue,&quot; Manning points out. &quot;So that should be something for both parties to consider &ndash; [that] this isn&#39;t such a partisan issue as it may seem &hellip; it&#39;s just that the American people and the people of Colorado don&#39;t want the government to be running out healthcare.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> HeathThu, 10 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNo, Women Don't Have To Run And Get An IUD<p> In the aftermath of <a href="">Donald Trump</a>&#39;s election victory, some feminists are suggesting the new administration may &quot;strip women of [their] reproductive rights,&quot; including the right to get an intrauterine contraceptive device, or IUD. They suggest women <a href="">hastily get IUDs before Trump takes office</a>.</p> <p> This requires a little backstory: The Affordable Care Act mandates that all insurance plans offer first-dollar coverage for all FDA-approved forms of contraception for women, including IUDs. This means women with ACA-compliant insurance plans can get an IUD without any cost-sharing or copays.</p> <p> Some on the Left are fearful that Trump and a Republican Congress will repeal the ACA. They are right to be fearful. This would fulfill one of Trump&#39;s campaign promises and be a positive change to public policy. The ACA, despite good intentions, has only resulted in skyrocketing costs, limited options and dysfunction. Repealing it would be the first step toward replacing the law with a better plan.</p> <p> But the end of the ACA would not be the end of women&#39;s access to contraception. It might change our health insurance benefits, but it will not change our rights.</p> <p> First, women are free to go to their doctor&#39;s office or pharmacy and obtain birth control without any insurance coverage. They can pay out of pocket, as we should for routine, expected health care expenses.</p> <p> The total cost of an IUD today without insurance can be up to $1,000, but it may be a more cost-effective form of birth control over time, as IUDs last for years. Low-income women may qualify for payment plans or discount prices.</p> <p> It&#39;s possible that, absent the ACA&#39;s birth control mandate, the price of IUDs would decrease significantly because providers would have to compete on price to attract customers directly. Insurance, or third-party payment, actually gets in the way of price transparency and can lead to bloated prices.</p> <p> Then again, insurance companies, even absent the ACA, could still choose to cover various forms of birth control. Some supporters of the ACA&#39;s birth control mandate say it&#39;s beneficial to insurers bottom lines, as medical claims for birth controls are cheaper than medical claims associated with pregnancy. Therefore, they argue, it&#39;s in insurance companies&#39; interests to offer coverage for contraception. If so, then insurance companies would almost certainly do so even absent a mandate.</p> <p> Repealing the ACA and the birth control mandate would not strip anyone of his or her rights. A right is something available to people in nature. The government can protect our rights, but the government does not bestow them. If the government pays for something on behalf of citizens, or forces another party to pay for it, this thing is not a right, but a benefit.</p> <p> Repealing the ACA might change health insurance benefits, as it would offer insurers more freedom to design and sell an array of plans. Some would be cheaper and cover less, while some would be more expensive and cover more. But then it would be up to customers to choose the best plan for them. Truly, this would be a win for women and men, because it would put more of the decisions about our health care (and how to pay for it) into our hands.</p> <p> In any case, getting an IUD is a serious decision. Women shouldn&#39;t do it hastily or out of fear of change in our government. Uncle Sam should have never gotten so involved in birth control politics as he did with the Affordable Care Act, and now we see why. A government big enough to give you what you want can also take it away.</p> HeathThu, 10 Nov 2016 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIf You Can't Explain To Your Child How Trump Won, You Shouldn't Have Oversimplified The Election<p> On Wednesday, a <a href="">Huffington Post article</a> headlined &quot;What Do We Tell The Children?&quot; is going viral, as worried <a href="">Hillary Clinton</a> supporters bemoan President-elect <a href="">Donald Trump</a>&#39;s victory.</p> <p> The article makes some valid points: Trump offended many groups of people on the campaign trail, using rough and unacceptable language. He acted like a bully. He was not nice.</p> <p> But if you&#39;re having trouble explaining the outcome of last night&#39;s election to your children, perhaps you should rethink how you framed this election cycle in the first place.</p> <p> If you told your children Trump is a &quot;mean person&quot; and painted this election as a choice between good and evil, then yes, today you will be in the difficult position of telling your children that the mean, evil man won with the help of nearly 60 million voters.</p> <p> But that&#39;s not what this election was. A better framing would be to explain that both Clinton and Trump are flawed human beings, and that people voted for and against them for a variety of complex reasons. Don&#39;t underestimate children: They can understand this. Unfortunately, too many adults cannot.</p> <p> Just because Trump&#39;s character flaws are easier to explain to children doesn&#39;t mean Clinton didn&#39;t have any. Trump was a bully and name-caller, but Clinton carried ethical baggage related to <a href="">Benghazi</a>, her private email server and the Clinton Foundation.</p> <p> Many Americans voted with heavy hearts, fully aware their choice was for the lesser of two evils. Depending on how we understood and weighed personality versus policy issues, we came to different conclusions about which person that was.</p> <p> If we tell children the mean man won, and we demean the millions of people responsible for his victory, then we only perpetuate the divisiveness that was so off-putting about Trump&#39;s campaign.</p> <p> Instead, we should tell children that good people in our country, people with sound minds and compassionate hearts, often disagree. And that&#39;s all right. When we disagree, we treat each other as we&#39;d want to be treated: We talk, we listen and we consider what it&#39;s like to be in the other person&#39;s shoes.</p> <p> We have a lot to learn from talking with children about major world events. Sometimes things are hard to explain. But we do our children no favors by oversimplifying and wrongly framing this election as the triumph of evil. It&#39;s not.</p> HeathWed, 9 Nov 2016 15:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIncreased traffic for may not be a good sign<p> Obamacare cheerleaders <a href="">are celebrating a 50 percent increase</a> in applications on in the first hours of open enrollment over last year. While we all want to see our fellow Americans taking advantage of the health insurance options available to them, this spike in applications doesn&#39;t necessarily represent a success for the law. It may actually be more evidence of the law&#39;s pain points than its offerings.</p> <p> Here are a few explanations for the uptick in early enrollments this year:</p> <p> First, returning customers should be becoming more familiar with the Obamacare enrollment process. Open enrollment starts on the same day every year. Year over year, we should expect better turnout at the outset as people come to expect the day.</p> <p> Second, this year the start of enrollment immediately followed <a href="">a report from the Department of Health and Human Services</a> outlining big premium spikes, with an average increase for a benchmark plan at 25 percent. Naturally, customers are going to be curious about what plans are available to them in their county and at what rates. Concern is likely to be a bigger motivator than giddy excitement to enroll (or re-enroll) in an Obamacare plan.</p> <p> Furthermore, Obamacare defenders hate to acknowledge it, but there are millions of (unsubsidized) people who continue to buy individual insurance policies outside of the exchanges. Why would they do this? A few reasons: Some plans are sold outside of the exchanges that aren&#39;t sold on the inside. Some people may enroll outside of the exchanges as a force of habit, or they may not like the idea of buying through a government entity. Some may be sure they won&#39;t qualify for a subsidy, so it doesn&#39;t make much of a difference to them.</p> <p> The Obama administration thinks this off-exchange individual market holds about <a href="">7 million people, and that 2.5 million of them</a> would qualify for a subsidy or tax credit if they purchased a plan through an exchange instead. As the pain of paying unsubsidized premiums increases, more of these people will consider buying via an exchange in order to get the financial assistance that may be available to them.</p> <p> Finally, each year for the past three years the <a href="">penalty for going without health insurance has increased</a>. This might encourage more uninsured folks to explore their options in the exchanges, but it&#39;s hardly a sign of a good product when people only buy it to avoid a fee.</p> <p> With these considerations, Obamacare cheerleaders might want to put the pom-poms down for a minute, and focus their energy instead on making health insurance more competitive and affordable. Then we might really see increased interest instead of what is probably simply increased desperation from Obamacare buyers.</p> HeathThu, 3 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum