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 Comparing Russia Controversy to Watergate • After the Bell HeathFri, 17 Feb 2017 15:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRepealing Obamacare Would Be A Huge Tax Cut For Americans • Coast to Coast HeathTue, 14 Feb 2017 16:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Fight for Family Leave • Boom Bust HeathMon, 13 Feb 2017 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHow To Cure The Very Sick Healthcare System From Its Deadly Disease: Obamacare<p> Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price has officially taken the helm of his department. The former congressman and orthopedic surgeon will soon find that our healthcare system today is a very sick patient. The disease? Obamacare.</p> <p> Like many diseases, there are treatment options that range from aggressive surgery to simply relieving the symptoms or palliative care. Sure, we could tinker around the edges and make Obamacare a little more bearable. But without a total repeal, the healthcare system will remain on a path that inevitably leads to its demise.</p> <p> The American people have expressed that major change is wanted and warranted: If a replacement plan could be passed simultaneously, and existing coverage could be continued during a transition period, <a href="">70 percent</a> support Obamacare repeal. Obviously, a heart surgeon wouldn&#39;t call his work complete after only removing the dying heart, he&#39;d put a new heart in.</p> <p> Much of Obamacare can be repealed through the process of budget reconciliation. We saw this when Congress sent such a partial repeal to the desk of former President <a href="">Barack Obama</a>, who vetoed it. Obviously, <a href="">President Trump</a> would sign such a bill.</p> <p> But more is required of the president than his signature. His administration must take action to roll back the regulatory burden of the law, much of which may not be undone through reconciliation. The text of Obamacare refers to &quot;the Secretary&quot; <a href="">more than 2,500 times</a>. That&#39;s power for new Secretary Tom Price, who can effectively gut Obamacare.</p> <p> Live by the administrative state, die by the administrative state.</p> <p> Through these congressional and administrative actions, we can take the heart of Obamacare out. But this is where there are <a href="">some doubts</a>. Do Republicans have a donor heart ready? In other words, can they coalesce behind a legitimate replacement plan for Obamacare, one that provides a smooth transition for those enrolled in exchange plans and the Medicaid expansion? Can such a plan pass political muster (that is, garner 60 votes in the Senate to become law)?</p> <p> It&#39;s certainly not a lack of ideas holding back replacement: There are several plans to consider. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also a physician, introduced the <a href="">Obamacare Replacement Act</a>. The Republican Study Committee put together <a href="">the American Health Care Reform Act</a>. Sens. Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins of Louisiana and Maine introduced a half-measure, the <a href="">Patient Freedom Act</a>, which gives states the choice to stay in Obamacare or opt into an alternative system.</p> <p> Having too many plans is as bad as having no plan, as there is no unity. But a careful look at these plans shows they do not vary in the core policy approach, only details.</p> <p> Here&#39;s what they all seek to do.</p> <p> First, we must &quot;make insurance great again&quot; by making insurance insurance again. Under Obamacare, &quot;insurance&quot; is a misnomer. Instead, health plans have become Trojan horses for redistribution, from young to old, from healthy to unhealthy. In fact, the system was headed that way before Obamacare, too.</p> <p> Health plans have become far more expensive than they need to be because they&#39;re required to cover a wide array of services, many of which don&#39;t need to be paid for via an insurance plan. We don&#39;t use insurance to pay for routine expenses in any other area of life. Take car insurance: We don&#39;t use it for oil changes or tune-ups.</p> <p> Some will say that health insurance is different. &quot;You can get a new car; you can&#39;t get a new body!&quot; they say. But this is beside the point. Health insurance doesn&#39;t keep you healthy any more than car insurance keeps your wheels on the road. The point is that insurance, no matter the type, is meant to protect you financially. People buy it because they are mitigating risk. Higher risk customers should expect to pay more, while lower risk customers can pay less. Otherwise it&#39;s not a good deal for them.</p> <p> We&#39;ve stopped treating health insurance this way, and that&#39;s part of our problem. To make insurance what it&#39;s supposed to be, we have to repeal Obamacare&#39;s rules about &quot;essential health benefits&quot; (the mandates that require routine care to be covered for everyone) and restore risk-based pricing. Furthermore, Republican plans encourage the use of tax-free health savings accounts for healthcare costs paid outside of insurance channels.</p> <p> This will surely be disparaged as the undoing of &quot;consumer protections&quot; that make insurance so robust, but the ultimate consumer protection is market competition. Today, too many Americans lack choices. In <a href="">40 percent of counties</a>, Obamacare exchanges customers have only one insurer available. How&#39;s that for competition?</p> <p> But most Americans aren&#39;t in the exchanges. Most privately insured Americans don&#39;t choose their insurance at all. Their boss chooses for them, because most people get insurance through their employer, and for good reason. Since the World War II era, Americans who get health insurance through their jobs have enjoyed a tax exclusion on those benefits. This gives the greatest advantage to high-income people, and leaves those without employer-based insurance out in the cold.</p> <p> To address this, Republican plans all provide a universal tax credit for health insurance, so that Americans can get the same financial relief no matter where they get their insurance. This would make insurance more equitable, more competitive and more affordable.</p> <p> Secondly, Republicans must address those who&#39;ve been helped by Obamacare. Even though the law created far more losers than winners, the winners will rightly want to know what&#39;s become of them. Transitional assistance is in order, and the final replacement plan can be designed so that Obamacare&#39;s subsidies do not stop flowing until the replacement system is up and running.</p> <p> Some opponents of free-market healthcare charge that it&#39;s a fine system for healthy people, but it would wreak havoc for the sick. This need not be the case. Republican plans provide federal funding for state-based high-risk pools for anyone diagnosed with a pre-existing condition while uninsured. For those who have insurance when diagnosed, there are protections against having coverage dropped or excluded.</p> <p> Ideas like these should be enough to get bipartisan support. Of course, repealing and replacing Obamacare will be difficult, no doubt. But it&#39;s what the American people want, and now Congress and the White House have the power to do it. As it is for patients who are very sick, time is of the essence.</p> HeathFri, 10 Feb 2017 15:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew Strategy To Save Obamacare: Women In Jail • American Family Radio HeathThu, 9 Feb 2017 11:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumStocks Soar on President's Tax Cut Push • Your World HeathThu, 9 Feb 2017 11:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew Strategy To Save ObamaCare: Women In Jail<p> <strong>While there is a push for Republicans to repeal ObamaCare, they are also being warned of sinister consequences if they do: sending women to jail.</strong></p> <p> &quot;If Obamacare is repealed,&quot; reads the 16-word headline from women&#39;s magazine Cosmo, &nbsp;&quot;more pregnant women will have to go to jail for prenatal care.&quot;</p> <p> Carolyn Sufrin, an obstetrician-gynecologist and medical anthropologist at Johns Hopkins University, <a href="">writes in Cosmopolitan</a> that some women see jail as the only place to get prenatal care.</p> <p> &quot;I just wanted to be in jail,&quot; one woman told Sufrin. &quot;I knew that I could eat, I could sleep, and that even if it&#39;s not the best of medical care, I was going to get some type of care.&quot;</p> <p> Because the Affordable Care Act allows poor women access to health care, women do not need to get incarcerated to get it. Therefore, Sufrin believes that repealing Obamacare will mean more pregnant women will have to go to jail for prenatal care.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;When I read this article, the first thing that came to mind was that the author didn&#39;t seem to make a point that Medicaid, the low-income health insurance program that&#39;s facilitated by state governments, is not going anywhere if the ACA is repealed,&quot; responds Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the </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;"> (IWF).</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">It&#39;s important to keep in mind, Manning says, that some of these protections are going to stay regardless of what happens to ObamaCare.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">There are also a network on charitable organizations that offer prenatal care for poor women.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;So it&#39;s not the case,&quot; she says, &quot;that jail is the only place women have to go.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Sufrin has good intentions about providing maximum care and options for women, says Manning, but there are political views involved, too.</p> <p> Sufrin&#39;s sympathetic story is running in a left-wing magazine and her biography states she&#39;s a fellow with a pro-abortion group, Physicians for Reproductive Health, which opposes Donald Trump&#39;s cabinet nominees and Neil Gorsuch&#39;s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.</p> <p> The website also asks doctors to sign a pledge to &quot;stand up for reproductive rights.&quot;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;There are very important differences between the Right and Left when it comes to what constitutes women&#39;s health care and who should pay for it,&quot; Manning says. &quot;That&#39;s really ultimately what is at the heart of the debate.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> HeathThu, 9 Feb 2017 09:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIWF: Audi Sends 'Disempowering' Msg To Women<p> <strong>Expect to see more controversial commercials in the future like the one from Audi in this year&#39;s Super Bowl.</strong></p> <p> The ad in question (<em>see video below</em>) involves the issue of the wage gap, meaning the pay for women in the workplace as compared with men. Since its debut, the Audi commercial has been the subject of many articles and blogs.</p> <p> &quot;Most advertisements these days aren&#39;t just selling a product, but they&#39;re selling a set of values or a specific virtue that they want customers to associate with their brand &ndash; and that&#39;s exactly what Audi is doing here,&quot; says Hadley Heath Manning, senior policy analyst for the <a href="">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a>.</p> <p> &quot;They understand that equality and fairness are values that are very important to the American public,&quot; she continues, &quot;and so they&#39;re trying to promote their brand on the shoulders of those values. Unfortunately, using the wage gap out of context like this is not only statistically, mathematically the wrong thing to do, but it sends a bad message to women and girls.&quot;</p> <p> Out of context?</p> <p> &quot;It misuses the wage gap statistic,&quot; answers Manning. &quot;When Audi says at the end of their commercial that they&#39;re &#39;committed to equal pay for equal work,&#39; that&#39;s good, we can commend that &ndash; but anything less in today&#39;s economy is not only immoral, it&#39;s illegal.&quot;</p> <p> Manning says women have had protections for equal pay in American law since the 1960s when the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act guaranteed that any employer who discriminates on the basis of sex would face legal ramifications.</p> <p> &quot;So the implication behind this commercial is that there is widespread discrimination against women in the U.S. economy and that there has been for some time &ndash; and [it implies that] because of that, young girls and women should be fearful that they aren&#39;t being treated fairly.&quot;</p> <p> Meanwhile, Manning says IWF doesn&#39;t like misuse of this statistic that shows women make about 80 percent of what men make because that statistic is a raw piece of data.</p> <p> &quot;It doesn&#39;t have the context around it that women need and men need to understand: that the pay disparity is due to many other factors typically driven by individual choices, about profession, education and experience, rather than discrimination,&quot; she explains. &quot;It&#39;s a disempowering message to send to women to say that we&#39;re facing widespread discrimination and that we don&#39;t have the same opportunity that men do.&quot;</p> HeathThu, 9 Feb 2017 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNo Defense For Obamacare In Cruz Vs. Sanders Debate<p> Americans who tuned in to the Obamacare debate on CNN featuring Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz were treated to an increasingly rare spectacle: a civil, substantive debate. The senators were kind to each other and even occasionally found common ground. Still, the line in the sand was clear: Cruz, a conservative, is staunchly opposed to government healthcare, and Sanders is for it.</p> <p> Nevertheless, neither debater offered a robust defense of Obamacare, the status quo. Sanders, who voted for the legislation, could only occasionally provide weak support for a mandate here and there. Most of his points focused on his vision for the healthcare system, which is neither Obamacare nor a conservative replacement, but &quot;Medicare for all,&quot; his euphemism for universal government-run healthcare.</p> <p> Credit where credit is due: Sanders is an honest, consistent Democrat (even if he is dead wrong on occasion &mdash; as was the case when he charged that the <a href="">United States has</a> high <a href="">infant</a> <a href="">mortality</a> <a href="">rates</a>). Sanders admitted, in so many words, that he wants to see a public option added to Obamacare with the intention of transitioning to the public-option-as-only-option, also known as &quot;single payer.&quot; This is more transparency than you&#39;ll get from most Democrats.</p> <p> The few times Sanders tried to defend Obamacare were his weakest moments in the debate. Cruz did well to extol the virtues of choice and freedom (as he usually does), but Sanders faced his fiercest opponent in an audience member and small business owner named LaRonda.</p> <p> LaRonda, with a simple and practical question, took Obamacare down.</p> <p> &quot;My question is, how do I [provide health insurance to my workers] without raising my prices to my customers or lowering my wages?&quot; she asked.</p> <p> LaRonda owns five hair salons in Fort Worth, Texas. She employs almost 50 people, but can&#39;t hire more or else she would trigger Obamacare&#39;s employer mandate, the requirement that employers provide government-approved (read: expensive) health insurance for their workers. This is obviously a huge business expense, especially for small businesses like LaRonda&#39;s.</p> <p> Sanders&#39; response stunk. He basically told LaRonda that he believed she should be providing health insurance benefits. He admitted he did not know a lot about the business of dressing hair, jokingly referencing his own white and messy coiffure, but what he really could have been saying was, &quot;I don&#39;t know anything about business.&quot;</p> <p> If Sanders was being true to his democratic-socialist self, he could have sidestepped the question entirely and said under his preferred plan, employers wouldn&#39;t have to provide insurance because the government would pay for everyone&#39;s costs. He&#39;d also have to explain to LaRonda why he wants to raise her taxes to cover the <a href="">$17 trillion cost of such a proposal</a>, but even this explanation might have been better than attempting to shame the businesswoman for not providing health benefits.</p> <p> Sanders also had a bad moment when Cruz pressed him on LaRonda&#39;s personal health insurance costs. LaRonda admitted to being uninsured because she makes too much money to qualify for a subsidy to buy an Obamacare plan. Cruz asked Sanders why former President <a href="">Barack Obama</a> and others promised that insurance premiums would go down (by $2,500 on average) when the opposite (twice over) happened.</p> <p> That &quot;<a href="">turned out not to be true</a>,&quot; Sanders confessed. Indeed.</p> <p> Simply put, there was no one on stage who could defend Obamacare or the status quo in our healthcare system. Like most of the American people, Cruz and Sanders both want change. We should be thankful to both of them for respectfully and reasonably laying out their visions for the future.</p> <p> In the end, Cruz won the debate because he made it clear that we should hope for change in the opposite direction than where Obamacare took us. The road toward single-payer is paved with good intentions, but Americans should ask themselves, what else might &quot;turn out not to be true&quot; about government-run healthcare?</p> <p> We don&#39;t want to find out.</p> HeathWed, 8 Feb 2017 15:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumClinton Proclaims In New Video ‘The Future Is Female’<p> Hillary Clinton re-emerged on Monday in a video message to open the 2017 Makers conference taking place in southern California, pronouncing, &ldquo;Yes, the future is female.&rdquo;</p> <p> Clinton referenced last month&rsquo;s Women&rsquo;s March in what was her first public remarks since President Donald Trump&rsquo;s inauguration last month.</p> <p> &ldquo;Just look at the amazing energy we saw last month as women organized a march that galvanized millions of people all over our country and across the world,&rdquo; Clinton said.&nbsp;</p> <p> The march, which was sponsored by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, occurred the day after Trump&rsquo;s inauguration in Washington, D.C. (and in other locations in lesser numbers) and was in direct response to his ascension to the presidency.</p> <p> Organizers <a href="">described</a> the Makers conference on its opening day as,&nbsp;&ldquo;the meeting after the march.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;Now more than ever we need to stay focused on this year&rsquo;s conference: Be bold. We need strong women to step up and speak out. We need you to dare greatly and lead boldly,&rdquo; Clinton said in the video.</p> <p> In what appeared to be another reference to the Trump administration, the Democrat nominee stated, &ldquo;So please, set an example for every woman and girl out there who&rsquo;s worried about what the future holds and wonders whether our rights, opportunities and values will endure.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;Despite all the challenges we face, I remain convinced that Yes, the future is female,&rdquo; she proclaimed to the Makers attendees.&nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning, with the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, in a statement to Western Journalism observed, &ldquo;Some of the rhetoric from Clinton and others implies that they are fearful for women&rsquo;s futures, but this perspective is based on their political views and isn&rsquo;t shared by all women.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">She added that while conservative women want to see opportunities improve for all women, &ldquo;We do not think all women belong to a victim class in the U.S. today, and we do not feel that our rights are under siege.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> The Makers&nbsp;<a href="">conference features such liberal stalwarts</a> as Gloria Steinem; actresses Debra Messing, Eva Longoria, Octavia Spencer, Rosie Perez and Patricia Arquette; and author Luvvie Ajayi.</p> <p> Last month, Ajayi <a href="">posted a video </a>of her setting a pair of Ivanka Trump brand high heels on fire. She described burning them to a crisp as &ldquo;cathartic.&rdquo;</p> <p> Ironically, Trump and her father would agree with the Makers&rsquo; conference desire to see women continue to break new ground and have new <a href="">opportunities in the workplace</a>.</p> <p> In the 1980s, Donald Trump named a women to head up construction of his now iconic Trump Tower, when such a choice was unheard of and still rare. The Trump Organization has <a href="">more women in high executive positions </a>than men.</p> <p> Further, the president has backed his daughter&rsquo;s plan for a childcare tax write-off, which she<a href=""> spoke about</a> at the Republican Convention last July.</p> <p> &ldquo;As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all.&rdquo;</p> <p> Trump <a href="">garnered </a>42 percent of the female vote to Clinton&rsquo;s 54 percent, overall; and a majority (53 percent) of white women backed the Republican.</p> <p> Conservative radio talk show host Dana Loesch did not appreciate Clinton&rsquo;s remarks to the Maker&rsquo;s conference describing her words as &ldquo;tone deaf&rdquo; and an &ldquo;awful message to send to boys.&rdquo;</p> <p> Clinton announced earlier this month that she is writing a new book, to be released in the fall, which will be a collection of essays inspired by her favorite quotes. According to the <a href=";;utm_medium=referral">Hollywood Reporter</a>, some of her reflections will include&nbsp;&ldquo;her stunning loss last fall to Donald Trump.&rdquo;</p> HeathTue, 7 Feb 2017 15:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA Better Way To Provide Healthcare To Pregnant Women<p> According to Obamacare&#39;s cheerleaders, the law made it so that pregnancy is no longer a &quot;pre-existing condition,&quot; meaning pregnant women can sign up for health insurance plans on the exchanges during open enrollment. The same cheerleaders bemoan Republicans&#39; plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, because they fear pregnant women will have fewer options for health insurance and limited access to care.</p> <p> While Obamacare&#39;s requirement that insurance companies sell plans to pregnant women on the exchanges may sound like a commonsense and pro-woman protection, it is neither. In order to best serve women patients, our health policy should reflect the reality of what pregnancy truly is and what insurance truly should be.</p> <p> Some critics of Obamacare argue that it doesn&#39;t make sense to allow someone to buy health insurance after she is already pregnant; they say this is like buying homeowner&#39;s insurance after your house is on fire. I don&#39;t like the analogy. Pregnancy &mdash; as opposed to a house fire &mdash; is cause for celebration.</p> <p> But of course, pregnancy requires great personal care and increased healthcare services in the form of doctors&#39; visits, tests and ultimately medical assistance with the delivery. In this sense, the house-fire analogy holds up. If health insurance is meant to protect us from unforeseen costs (as other types of insurance do), then the costs of an already-happening pregnancy are not unforeseen. They are expected.</p> <p> To require insurance companies to sell policies to pregnant women goes against the concept of insurance. It encourages opportunism, too. I could go without insurance until I got pregnant, and then I could enroll (presuming open enrollment came around sometimes during my nine months).</p> <p> It would be better to encourage more women to purchase health insurance before becoming pregnant. Sadly, Obamacare has increased premiums dramatically on many healthy women of child-bearing age, which may discourage these women from obtaining insurance until they are sure they need it. This is counterproductive to the goal of protecting women from the costs of uninsured pregnancies.</p> <p> Rolling back Obamacare&#39;s regulations, therefore, would help bring down premium prices and make it possible for more people to afford insurance. Therefore fewer people would face a pregnancy &mdash; or any other condition that requires treatment &mdash; while uninsured.</p> <p> Even so, there may always be cases where women become pregnant without insurance. There are options for them too, and these options would remain accessible even absent Obamacare.</p> <p> Let&#39;s address the most vulnerable women first &mdash; low-income women. <a href="">Nearly half of all births</a> in the U.S. are to mothers on Medicaid, and this was the case before Obamacare expanded the government program for the poor. Today, income thresholds <a href="">vary</a> (from 133 percent to 185 percent of the federal poverty line), but low-income pregnant women in all 50 states can enroll in Medicaid at any point in their pregnancy, and they will be covered until 60 days postpartum.</p> <p> This isn&#39;t a result of Obamacare; it&#39;s due to policy changes that <a href="">date back to the late 1980s</a>, and no one is advocating taking healthcare away from poor pregnant women or their babies. Repealing Obamacare would not take away Medicaid coverage for the poorest pregnant women. To suggest otherwise is to fear-monger.</p> <p> What about women who are ineligible for Medicaid?</p> <p> Before Obamacare, pregnant women could get plans through their state&#39;s high-risk pool if they had one. It didn&#39;t matter what time of the year it was (women could enroll anytime, not just during &quot;open enrollment.&quot;)</p> <p> Premiums for these plans may have been high, but they were still better than paying out-of-pocket for prenatal care, labor and delivery, especially for pregnancies or births with complications. This would be a better way to offer insurance to already-pregnant women than the Obamacare approach.</p> <p> Women always have the option of going through their pregnancy without insurance, in which case there are discount programs and payment plans that make care more affordable. Importantly, pregnant women can take advantage of a wide range of charitable resources and supports, from homeless shelters dedicated to their care to free clinics and pregnancy resource centers.</p> <p> No one wants to see pregnant women struggle to afford or access care. It&#39;s a worthwhile debate to consider what role the government should play in providing a safety net for those who can&#39;t afford insurance or who just mistakenly went without insurance and had an unforeseen medical event.</p> <p> But for women who can afford to buy insurance, it is better to encourage them to do so before becoming pregnant rather than inviting them to wait until after becoming pregnant to obtain insurance, thus causing problems that ripple throughout the entire insurance system.</p> <p> Repealing Obamacare would make insurance more affordable for these women and would ultimately improve the options available to them &mdash; that&#39;s a step in the right direction for pregnant women, and the rest of us.</p> HeathTue, 7 Feb 2017 14:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRepealing Obamacare Won't Endanger Sick Children<p> Since <a href="">President Trump</a>&#39;s election, proponents of the Affordable Care Act have made many frightening claims about what our health insurance system would look like should Trump and Congress fulfill their promise to repeal (and replace) it.</p> <p> They paint a bleak picture: Women would <a href="">not have birth control</a>, Medicaid would be <a href="">&quot;destroyed,&quot;</a> and perhaps worst of all, now they say that sick children will die.</p> <p> This isn&#39;t just a battle of political talking points. For some people, it is very personal. At Slate Magazine, Virginia Sole-Smith describes the heart-wrenching story of how her 3-year-old daughter, Violet, has already <a href="">racked up nearly $3 million in medical bills</a>. Violet was born with a serious, expensive condition: a single-ventricle heart.</p> <p> I&#39;m a new mom myself, and I can&#39;t imagine a hell on Earth worse than watching your child suffer. The story has a happy ending &ndash; Violet seems to be healthy now &ndash; but it raises important questions about insurance for sick children pre- or post-Obamacare.</p> <p> I asked insurance expert and health savings account specialist <a href="">Beverly Gossage</a> to respond the article in Slate. The following is from Beverly:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>First of all, let me say that Violet is adorable. Thank you for sharing her photo. I&#39;m pleased that little Violet is doing better. Any child struggling with a health condition pulls at our heartstrings. I am pleased that she is able to receive top-of-the-line care and that you [Virginia Sole-Smith] and your husband bought health insurance for her.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>Let me assure you that your employer plan will not be affected by repeal, except to give your husband&#39;s employer more options and more funds to pay better salaries since the employer won&#39;t have to pay outside administrators to help him process ACA paperwork and reporting.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>You mentioned that your employer coverage offered unlimited lifetime benefits and dependent coverage until age 26. That&#39;s not surprising since most group carriers were offering unlimited benefits before the ACA and some states had dependent mandates up to age 30. Repealing the ACA returns the regulation to the states. If your state wants to keep these ACA provisions, it may do so. Carriers will likely continue these benefits voluntarily after repeal if these benefits are perceived to be popular. That&#39;s what competition does. You mentioned that you were concerned if your husband lost his job. That&#39;s understandable. That is why we advocate for more people to purchase affordable policies from the private market and delink coverage from the employer.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>Imagine if your husband had been able to control all the health insurance dollars spent on premiums through the years (on average $17,322 per year according to Kaiser) to buy your family&#39;s private, portable plan before you started your family and before the ACA when rates were so much lower. You would not only have had a broad selection of plans at low prices, but thanks to the guarantee renewable law in place before the ACA, the carrier would have accepted Violet at standard rates, regardless of her health conditions, as long as she was added to your policy within 30 days of birth.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>And the best news is the private carrier could not have raised your premiums nor dropped you due to Violet&#39;s claims. Plus, if you had chosen the popular HSA qualified option and funneled medical expenses through it, you would have received a tax deduction for all those medical claims. You would no longer have to worry about losing your husband&#39;s job as your policy would be decoupled from the employer. We want everyone to have this option.We all want to see children have access to quality health care and health insurance. Before the ACA, policies for children could be as low as $30 to $40. Under the ACA parents who had bought those plans found their child&#39;s policies were canceled and rates have jumped up to $200 this year.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>With repeal, we can send regulation of private plans back to the states to repair the private competition that disrupted this market due to the ACA. All those little children that you are concerned about will have affordable options again. By the way, there are no GOP plans to discontinue the SCHIP or Medicaid programs for those for whom it was intended, namely low-income children and their caretakers, the elderly and the disabled.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>Sadly, some states expanded Medicaid and took many able-bodied adults off of private plans and added them to the Medicaid rolls. This made it even more difficult for those who were intended to have this program to access care. We share your concern about doctors not taking Medicaid and children forced to have less than the best care. Fortunately, with a block grant, the states can do a better job of administering these programs more efficiently and even give those parents, who would rather have premium assistance to keep their children on their plan so that they can see better doctors, a choice.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>Rest assured that Violet and other children have every opportunity to have even better access to affordable health insurance after repeal than they do now. That makes this mother of four, and grandmother of two, very happy. May Violet continue on a healthy path.</em></p> HeathFri, 3 Feb 2017 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy We Need Medicaid Block Grants<p> On NBC&#39;s &quot;Sunday Today,&quot; <a href="">President Trump</a> adviser Kellyanne Conway said Medicaid block grants would be a part of a Republican replacement for Obamacare. Block grants have long been among conservative proposals to reform the government health insurance program for the poor.</p> <p> Liberal commentators have seized on Conway&#39;s comments about block granting Medicaid, saying it is an attempt to &quot;<a href="">slash federal funding</a>&quot; for the program. It&#39;s true that a block-grant approach would change the way Medicaid is funded, but this change would be for the better. More importantly, Medicaid reform would allow states the opportunity to make significant improvements in the quality of the program for those who depend on it.</p> <p> Currently, Medicaid is funded by state dollars and federal &quot;matching&quot; dollars. As states spend more on Medicaid, they get more federal dollars. This may seem like free money to those in charge of state budgets, but Americans should remember we all pay federal income taxes. This system creates an incentive for states to spend more and more. After all, state leaders can score political points by boasting new benefits or expanded eligibility, while the state only partially funds the program.</p> <p> If you can recall from your high school civics class, block grants are large sums of taxpayer dollars granted from the federal government to the states with very few strings attached (unlike categorical grants, which come with specific rules). Block grants, as opposed to a federal match, are fixed amounts indexed to grow each year along with inflation or other factors. These grants take away the incentive to spend more, but instead allow states more flexibility to make policies of their own about how they use that money and how the program will operate.</p> <p> You probably didn&#39;t learn this in civics class, but our most recent experience with changing a federal social program (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) to a block-grant program (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) in 1996 was wildly successful. This major welfare reform, passed by a Republican congress and signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton, <a href="">resulted in increased employment among low-income families, reduced child poverty, and decreased dependence on welfare</a>.</p> <p> As President Ronald Reagan once said, &quot;We should measure welfare&#39;s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.&quot; This used to be a shared bipartisan sentiment, but it appears that modern-day Democrats have rejected this attitude (at least when it comes to health care) in favor of bragging about how many Americans now depend on government programs.</p> <p> But Medicaid reform isn&#39;t primarily about saving money. More important than any financial consideration is this: block granting Medicaid would finally allow states to truly innovate to provide better quality coverage to those who are truly in need.</p> <p> Opponents to block grants, like Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., <a href=";recp=0&amp;version=readinglist&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=c-column-middle-span-region&amp;region=c-column-middle-span-region&amp;WT.nav=c-column-middle-span-region">paint a bleak picture:</a> &quot;We should not be forced to choose between providing hard-working older Coloradans with <a href="">blood pressure</a> medication or children with their insulin,&quot; he said.</p> <p> This way of thinking reflects a marriage to the status quo. Indeed, if states wanted to continue to administer Medicaid as they do today, they could face budget pressures. But why on Earth would states want to continue today&#39;s Medicaid program as-is? The data is damning: Medicaid patients <a href="">don&#39;t have the health access or health outcomes that other patients do, sometimes even faring worse than the uninsured.</a></p> <p> The success of welfare reform in the 1990s wasn&#39;t just the result of block grants. With the inclusion of work requirements and time limits, it was a true reform. Similarly, states should use the transition to block grants to make real changes to Medicaid so that it improves the health outcomes and lives of patients.</p> <p> Some states have <a href="">already experimented</a> (within today&#39;s federal restrictions) with the idea of allowing Medicaid patients to purchase private insurance plans instead of staying in the traditional Medicaid program. This would open up much wider networks of providers and improve access to care.</p> <p> For the sake of taxpayers, and more importantly for the sake of needy families, it&#39;s time to bring on the Medicaid block grants.</p> HeathTue, 31 Jan 2017 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGOP Takes Up Dem Dare To Replace ObamaCare<p> <strong>Republican senators are touting competing bills that replace ObamaCare, and a healthcare analyst is praising the competition.</strong></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I think it&#39;s always a good thing to have all the ideas out there and to have that debate and to have that exchange,&quot; says Hadley Heath Manning, who analyzes health policy at the </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;">.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> Critics of ObamaCare have said for few years that GOP lawmakers should scrap ObamaCare then come forward with a replacement plan. If they fail to do so, the argument went, then lawmakers risk never creating a replacement plan because politicians will argue over details in the plans.</p> <p> Led by the now-former Democratic president, Democrats have been mocking Republicans for years, claiming they are criticizing ObamaCare but have failed to present a competing bill.</p> <p> &quot;Pelosi slams GOP &#39;cowardice&#39; on Obamacare repeal with no replacement,&quot; <a href="">reads the Jan. 2 headline</a> from left-wing news website Huffington Post.</p> <p> But the new complaint is that there are several competing plans and no agreement over which one will win out in coming days.&nbsp;&quot;Republicans have plans to replace Obamacare &ndash; now they need to agree on one,&quot; left-wing NPR <a href="">reported in a Jan. 26 story</a>.</p> <p> &quot;Today&#39;s &#39;they have no plan!&#39; is tomorrow&#39;s &#39;that plan is extremist!&#39;&quot; writes The Federalist senior editor Daniel Harsanyi <a href="">in a story about</a> the GOP plans.</p> <p> To date, several Republican senators have introduced different ideas for replacing the ACA. These include one plan from Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). More recently, Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) introduced his own replacement plan.&nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Manning points out that GOP lawmakers were expected to &quot;bang out&quot; details during their retreat in Philadelphia.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;It&#39;s important for us to keep in mind that the Affordable Care Act was a messy process and Democrats did not all agree on what the ACA should say,&quot; Manning points out. &quot;In fact, House Democrats had a whole set of changes that they wanted to make and ultimately had to make through the reconciliation process, the one that Republicans have considered using for parts of the ACA.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Manning says it&#39;s important that congressional Republicans in Congress avoid making promises about what the replacement is going to look like and what it will accomplish, which were the promises made by Democrats that failed to materialize.</span></strong></span></span></p> HeathFri, 27 Jan 2017 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPresident Trump Vows Investigation into Alleged Voter Fraud • After the Bell HeathThu, 26 Jan 2017 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum