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 Obama Touts Positive Economic Record, Americans Think Otherwise • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 30 Apr 2016 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDo Millenials Prefer Socialism or Capitalism? • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 30 Apr 2016 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShould America Put A Pause On Its Refugee Program? • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 30 Apr 2016 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTeen Birth Rates Plummet<p> The CDC is out with&nbsp;<a href="">new data on teen birth rates from years 2006 to 2014</a>. The news is good: Teenaged women gave birth to fewer babies, with large decreases in rates among all racial groups. Overall, the teen birth rate is down 41 percent! As the CDC says, teen pregnancy can have serious health, economic, and social consequences, so we want to work to help young women and men wait until the right time to become parents. Some of the success we&#39;ve seen as a nation in lowering teen birth rates is a result of community-level programs to better educate teens about the risks involved with sex.&nbsp;<a href="">Data shows</a>&nbsp;that the age at first sexual encounter has gotten later, and that today&#39;s teenagers are having fewer partners than those of yesteryear.&nbsp;</p> <p> There are many indicators tied to teen pregnancy, including educational attainment of parents and economic opportunity. While higher teen birth rates are correlated with a lack of economic opportunity (i.e., areas with high unemployment typically see higher teen birth rates), it&#39;s not clear that the causal arrow only runs one way. I have always wondered if young women are more likely to suffer a lack of opportunity&nbsp;<em>because</em>&nbsp;they have parenting responsibilities,&nbsp;<em>or</em>&nbsp;if this lack of opportunity signals to them that their chances of success are low, which might lead them to seek meaning in other areas of their life, like relationships or even untimely motherhood. I think the answer is some of both.&nbsp;</p> <p> This is just a good reminder that economic issues can have real serious social side effects. While we should continue to educate our sons and daughters about sex, we should also be sure that&nbsp;<em>all the youth</em>&nbsp;in our community believe that their futures are worth fighting for -- and worth waiting for. Motherhood is one of life&#39;s greatest gifts, but it&#39;s much easier when a woman has the support system she needs, including a supportive and commited partner, and when she has finished her education. We can celebrate that more and more teens are making good decisions, and we can continue to work to be sure all young people know their value and their potential.&nbsp;</p> HeathFri, 29 Apr 2016 11:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWill Carly Help Cruz Win Nomination? • After The Bell HeathWed, 27 Apr 2016 09:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPodcast #34 • The Three R's Of ObamaCare<p> Heather Madden, advocacy project manager at Independent Women&#39;s Voice, interviews Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy for Independent Women&#39;s Forum on the three R&#39;s of ObamaCare--risk corridors, risk adjustments, and reinsurance--and why they&#39;re under scrutiny.</p> HeathTue, 26 Apr 2016 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDisturbing Increase in Suicide Rates, Especially for Adolescent Girls<p> U.S. suicide rates have reached a 30-year high.</p> <p> In 1999, 10.5 people per 100,000 died by suicide. In 2014, that number was up to 13 per 100,000. This represents an overall increase in U.S. suicide rates of about 24 percent. This is according to <a href="">new data released last week</a> from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.&nbsp;</p> <p> Prior to this time window, the suicide rate in the U.S. had been declining steadily since 1986.&nbsp;</p> <p> Some experts speculate that e<a href="">conomic woes and changes in illegal drug use</a>&nbsp;and access&nbsp;might contribute to the overall increase in suicide rates. &nbsp;The FDA also issued a rule in 2004 to require a label on some anti-depressants, explaining that these drugs might actually increase the risk of suicide among patients under 26. This may have contributed by discouraging physicians from prescribing these drugs to younger patients.&nbsp;</p> <p> There&#39;s a little good news in the new data: suicide rates among black males saw a <a href="">decrease of 8 percent</a>, and rates for people over 75 decreased just slightly.</p> <p> Every other demographic category saw an increase. The rate of suicide among women rose 45 percent over the 15-year period studied. The most striking increase was the suicide rate for girls age 10-14. While this group makes up a very small portion of suicides overall, the rate among adolescent girls has tragically <em>tripled </em>from1999 to 2014.&nbsp;</p> <p> What is driving this increase?&nbsp;</p> <p> Further research is needed on this topic. Some people believe that new cultural pressures related to social media and cyberbullying may play a role. Others hypothesize that the increase in suicide among adolescent girls is tied to the earlier onset of puberty. Puberty can be associated with the onset of psychological disorders, including depression, according to experts from the National Children&#39;s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.&nbsp;</p> <p> Perhaps this disturbing trend underscores the importance of open communication with young women, especially among their parents, teachers, mentors and friends. Everyone can use some encouragement -- no matter what age or background. Strong relationships can foster a good environment for communication. It&#39;s always the right time to remind those people around us how valuable they are to us and to the world, and to ask questions about one another&#39;s lives and practice good listening skills.</p> <p> If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).</p> HeathMon, 25 Apr 2016 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumState of the Parties, Two Perspectives: Republican: Make Women a Campaign Priority<p> Donald Trump can thank a broad base of support for his decisive victory in his home state of New York. In other primaries, Trump has struggled to earn a majority of women&rsquo;s votes, but in New York state, 59 percent of Republican women backed him.</p> <p> This does not mean, however, that Trump is suddenly popular with women everywhere. Seven-in-10 women across the country still have an unfavorable opinion of him. Trump and other GOP candidates need to craft a better strategy to broaden their appeal, especially to the fairer sex. They can do this by embracing a strong pro-woman agenda.</p> <p> Republicans will need to make women a campaign priority, no matter who clinches the Democratic nomination. Despite watching Bernie Sanders slowly close her once double-digit national lead among women, Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s New York primary victory was largely due to solid support from women and minority voters, a win that makes her nomination more likely.</p> <p> Democrats traditionally have an advantage with women voters in the general election, in part because they consistently demonstrate concern about the workplace issues women care about. They advocate for &ldquo;pay equity&rdquo; and support proposals such as mandated paid family leave and increased minimum wages in the name of helping women.</p> <p> Sadly, these one-size-fits-all regulations can ultimately hurt the very women they are intended to help, by making our workplaces less flexible and job opportunities scarcer.</p> <p> Republicans need to engage on these issues. They can start by correcting some of the biggest myths promoted by the Left. &ldquo;Pay equity&rdquo; is a largely misunderstood issue, thanks to the infamous wage gap figure, which shows women earn only 79 percent of men&rsquo;s earnings. This figure compares averages; it doesn&rsquo;t compare men and women in the same job with the same qualifications. As a Department of Labor report found in 2009, &ldquo;The raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct.&rdquo;</p> <p> That doesn&rsquo;t stop Clinton and others Democrats from backing harmful legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act that would pile red tape on employers and increase the legal exposure they face when they hire and advance women workers. That&rsquo;s certainly not good for women&rsquo;s earnings prospects.</p> <p> Paid leave mandates are another popular, but misguided, plank of the Democrats&rsquo; economic agenda. Most full-time working women already enjoy some kind of paid leave benefit. But in cases where employers do not offer these benefits today, a mandate may do more harm than good. Employers will respond by offering fewer jobs, reducing take-home pay, or favoring male workers who are less likely to take advantage of the mandated paid leave.</p> <p> Paid leave mandates increase labor costs the same way minimum wage increases do. It&rsquo;s well established that increases to the minimum wage decrease employment.</p> <p> Many Republicans are often caught off-guard when asked about the issues of pay equity or paid family leave. Their generic solutions, such as &ldquo;economic growth&rdquo; or &ldquo;deregulation,&rdquo; may not seem to offer particular benefit to working women. They need to prepare to take these issues head on and make a positive case for how conservative economic principles can improve women&rsquo;s lives.</p> <p> The good news is that the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum just released &ldquo;Working for Women,&rdquo; that makes exactly this case. The 56-page report is filled with ideas to modernize tax and workplace laws to provide maximum flexibility and prosperity for all women.</p> <p> Here&rsquo;s one example: IWF proposes the creation of Personal Care Accounts, tax-free savings accounts that women could use to save for maternity leave.</p> <p> Employers, workers and even pro-family non-profit organizations could make contributions to these accounts so more women could afford to spend time out of work with a new baby (without the unintended, costly effects of a paid leave mandate).</p> <p> The report also highlights a variety of other tax, workplace and licensing reforms, and reforms to programs like Social Security that would primarily benefit women. It even takes on educational savings reforms and addresses high childcare costs.</p> <p> Conservatives have a great case to make to women voters. There&rsquo;s no need to pander or use gimmicky campaign ads. The best strategy for appealing to women is to champion an array of policy solutions that would create a more dynamic, innovative, and flexible work world, and make life more affordable for women and their families. The blue print is there; now candidates need to take that winning message to the voters.</p> HeathFri, 22 Apr 2016 07:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCan Donald Trump Win Back The Establishment? • Coast To Coast HeathThu, 21 Apr 2016 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumInsurer Walks Away From ObamaCare After Runaway Losses<p> UnitedHealth&#39;s announcement that it&#39;s dropping ObamaCare is making headlines but not everyone is surprised at the news. &nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;It doesn&#39;t come as a surprise that some of them are walking away,&quot; observes Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at </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> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">In fact, she says, the health insurance companies &quot;made a deal with the devil&quot; when they gave up control of their industry to the federal government, while hoping to get a lot in return for the deal-making.&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> UnitedHealth Group Inc. estimates it could lose a half-billion dollars or more on its public exchange business this year alone. As a result, CEO Stephen Hemsley has said the company cannot continue to broadly serve the market created by the Affordable Care Act&#39;s coverage expansion because of the higher risk that comes with its customers.</p> <p> UnitedHealth says it will remain in public health insurance exchanges in only a handful of states next year. That&#39;s after recently expanding to 34 states.</p> <p> One of the continuing issues with ObamaCare is that insurance companies are taking on older and or less-healthy Americans while not getting enough younger, healthier Americans to help offset the cost via premiums.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Manning tells OneNewsNow the news is also no surprise since the insurance companies have struggled in that subset of the market.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;And they&#39;ve been very public about their financial challenges,&quot; she says, &quot;setting premiums at the appropriate level considering the law&#39;s regulations that they have to accept all patients, all consumers, all members to their insurance plans.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> UnitedHealth is not the only insurance company, large or small, to announce financial losses from things linked to ObamaCare. Many co-ops have also collapsed or will not be offering plans for 2017.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">According to Manning, consumers are left without any power in this struggle between insurance companies and the government.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;When those two get in bed together, it turns out that consumers are left holding the short end of the stick,&quot; she says</span></strong></span></span></p> HeathThu, 21 Apr 2016 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTeaching The Wrong Lesson About Student Debt<p> For many young adults, the most depressing moment of the tax season is reading their Form 1098-E, their Student Loan Interest Statement, which reminds us how much money we paid in interest last year (and how big our debts are &mdash; and how impossible repayment seems).</p> <p> Across the country, more than 40 million Americans hold student loan debt. The average loan is approximately $30,000, but all together, America&rsquo;s student loan debt totals more than $1.3 trillion and grows by $2,726.27 every second. This is not just a personal problem for households like mine; it has become a national crisis.</p> <p> Sadly, the only politicians who seem to be focusing on the student debt crisis are offering misguided, big-government solutions. Debtors need to hear the other side of the story when it comes to college debt and college costs, and they need to hear alternative solutions.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s easy to see how debt is crippling our economy, by keeping too many young adults on a financial treadmill. Student debtors are unable to fully participate in the economy as consumers, investors and business creators; many report putting off major life milestones like marriage (29 percent), starting a family (43 percent), or buying a home (75 percent) as a consequence of their outstanding student debt.</p> <p> But what&rsquo;s harder to see is how we got here. Obviously, high student debt is the result of high college costs. In just one generation (30 years), the cost of attending private and public colleges has more than doubled after adjusting for inflation.</p> <p> Why has college gotten so expensive? One common but flawed narrative is that public support for college has dwindled, forcing educational institutions to hike tuition prices for students and families. In reality, government education benefits (like direct aid, special loan programs and scholarships) have tripled since 1990, but rising aid has corresponded with rising tuition costs, feeding a vicious cycle.</p> <p> What we have seen in college costs is a classic example of what economists call &ldquo;subsidy capture.&rdquo; The federal government took over student lending in 2010, making it even easier than before for students to access low-interest loans. Colleges &mdash; wise to the fact that more customers could afford what they are selling &mdash; accordingly increased tuition and &ldquo;captured&rdquo; the help that was meant for students. Students were stuck paying the tab after all, even if loans delayed their payment.</p> <p> Ironically &mdash; and sadly &mdash; the same groups and politicians who supported this government takeover of student loans are now calling for even more government intervention into higher education with two proposals: to forgive student loan debt and to make college tuition-free.</p> <p> Student loan forgiveness sounds like a Houdini-type escape from the bonds of debt, but would result in serious consequences. Aside from the public cost to taxpayers, forgiving student debt would result in egregious unfairness to the many borrowers who made responsible decisions to avoid, minimize or pay off their debts: They chose to attend more affordable schools over more prestigious ones, worked part-time during college, or otherwise lived frugally to pay down their debt. To forgive student debt would be to reward irresponsible choices and punish responsible ones.</p> <p> Tuition-free college likewise sounds like an enticing idea, but various studies show that reducing the price of college to zero (i.e., shifting the cost of college onto taxpayers) significantly alters students&rsquo; incentives. Tuition-free college may increase enrollment in college, but not graduation rates. It would change colleges&rsquo; incentives as well, making schools even less cost-conscious and less focused on maximizing value for students.</p> <p> Instead of more government involvement in paying for college, we need to return to a system that puts students at the center and relies on market forces to set and control prices for tuition and loans alike.</p> <p> Policymakers should give students more options for higher education through accreditation reforms and expanded access to online and competency-based learning programs. This would force traditional colleges to compete on price. Schools should also be held accountable for value: If colleges have high levels of defaulting borrowers, those schools should shoulder some of the financial burden. Lenders should also be able to compete to offer borrowers the best interest rates for each loan.</p> <p> For those who already face debt, economic reforms can foster a stronger jobs market and healthier wage growth to aid us in repayment. Furthermore, employers should be free to offer loan repayment as a tax-free, on-the-job benefit, as they can do with tuition now.</p> <p> Big government got us into this mess; it isn&rsquo;t the right solution to help us out. We need to restore competitive forces to the college marketplace, which will result in lower prices, greater access and higher quality for everyone.</p> <p> &bull; <em>Hadley Heath Manning is a senior policy analyst for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> HeathThu, 21 Apr 2016 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLet's Empower Women To Save More<p> Everyone has heard the wage-gap statistic that women only earn 79 cents-on-the-dollar compared to what men earn. This isn&rsquo;t primarily the result of discrimination against women, but as a <a href="">Department of Labor report</a> says, it&rsquo;s almost entirely due to the different choices women and men make.</p> <p> Still, as women make choices &ndash; often sacrificially &ndash; to care for their families and pursue priorities outside of the workplace, they do take home less cash on average. This results in a savings gap, as well, which leaves women financially vulnerable. Lawmakers should consider ways to make it easier for women to save responsibly for the future, whether for a rainy day, education expenses, periods of leave from work or retirement.</p> <p> Women tend to have a greater need for savings than men do, making this issue all the more urgent. Women are more likely than men to hold jobs that don&rsquo;t offer robust family-leave or retirement benefits, like <a href="">part-time jobs</a>, and they are more likely to have a nontraditional career path &ndash; meaning they <a href="">change jobs more frequently</a> and often take periods <a href="">out of the workforce entirely</a>.</p> <p> There is nothing wrong with these choices. In fact, we should celebrate that many women are finding ways to balance work and family life in ways that suit their individual needs and preferences, and those of their families.</p> <p> Importantly, many women<em> must</em> find ways to balance home and work, especially if they are single parents. A few years ago, Pew Research reported that some <a href="">40 percent of households have female breadwinners</a>, and in about two-thirds of those households, women are the sole breadwinners.</p> <p> The landscape surrounding women and work has shifted dramatically during the past 50 years. But some of our workplace and tax laws are behind the times. In &ldquo;<a href="">Working for Women</a>,&rdquo; a new report from the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, we examine some fresh ideas to advance women&rsquo;s economic prosperity, including several ideas that promote more saving.</p> <p> For example, although the Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees many working women an unpaid maternity leave period, many <a href="">feminists are calling for a government-guaranteed paid-leave benefit</a>. This is a well-intended proposal, but paid-leave mandates come with serious costs for businesses, which also means serious costs for women, including fewer jobs and reduced take-home pay.</p> <p> A better way to help women financially during maternity leave would be to offer Personal Care Accounts: tax-free savings accounts where workers and/or employers can contribute in advance of a family or medical leave period. This would give businesses the maximum flexibility to help workers as they can, without the unintended consequences of inflexible mandates.</p> <p> Even pro-family, non-profit organizations could contribute to workers&rsquo; Personal Care Accounts, providing an added avenue for contributions. If women (or men) do not use the money in their accounts before retirement age, then these accounts could easily be treated as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).</p> <p> Childcare and preschool expenses are another significant financial burden on working women. Women (and men) should be allowed to use <a href="">529 educational savings accounts</a> toward early education expenses for their children. Today, these accounts are primarily used for college expenses, but as many moms know, early childhood education can often be just as expensive &ndash; and just as important &ndash; as college.</p> <p> Finally, one thing that hasn&rsquo;t changed in the past decades is that women are living longer than men. On average, <a href="">women live to about 81, while men live to about 76</a>. But when it comes to retirement savings, women lag behind men by about 50 percent on average.</p> <p> To address this, lawmakers should consider the typical <a href="">career paths of men and women</a>. While men are likely to enter the workforce at age 18 or 22 and work continuously until retirement, women are more likely to exit the workforce during their child-bearing years (to be caregivers) and re-enter it several years later.</p> <p> Policymakers should allow catch-up contributions to retirement accounts for workers who miss the opportunity to save in one year (whether due to unemployment or time taken off to care for children or other family members). This would move away from a system that penalizes caregivers, as well as help people save more so that they have their own safety net ready for retirement.</p> <p> Saving is empowering &ndash; it offers a sense of self-sufficiency and confidence about the future. Rather than focusing on the &ldquo;gaps&rdquo; or differences between women and men, let&rsquo;s move the conversation forward and <a href="">consider real changes</a> that can result in greater security and prosperity for all.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is a senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum ( and the Independent Women&rsquo;s Voice (</em></p> HeathTue, 19 Apr 2016 18:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumClarification on What the Wage Gap Is... And Isn't<p> The responses to my recent op-ed in the Denver Post (&ldquo;<a href=""><em>On Equal Pay Day, choosing job flexibility over closing the wage gap</em></a><em>&rdquo;</em><em>)</em> prompt a few clarifications:</p> <p> It is a common misperception that the wage gap represents an apples-to-apples comparison of men and women workers. This is inaccurate: The calculation does not compare women and men in the same profession who work the same hours, &ldquo;with the same qualifications, experience and talent.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p> <p> When economists attempt to correct for these variables, they find the wage gap shrinks to a few percentage points. As a <a href="">Department of Labor report</a> found, &ldquo;The raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.&rdquo;</p> <p> My op-ed was not about a choice between flexibility and &ldquo;fair pay,&rdquo; but about personal choices and tradeoffs. I&rsquo;m thankful to have these choices, and want to preserve and expand maximum freedom and prosperity for all people.</p> <p> IWF supports changes that would help women in the workplace, but the Paycheck Fairness Act is misguided. Readers can see IWF&rsquo;s suggestions at <a href=""></a>.</p> HeathMon, 18 Apr 2016 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat Is The Proper Role Of Government In Student Loan Industry? • Coast To Coast HeathFri, 15 Apr 2016 13:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWorking For Women Report Increases Economic Opportunity For Women • RT Fish Bowl 2016 HeathFri, 15 Apr 2016 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum