Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS Covetousness Crisis<p> Thanksgiving is a beautiful American tradition centered on family, food, and of course, gratitude for our many blessings. It&#39;s good to take stock of the good things in our lives and to focus on what we have, rather than what we don&#39;t have.</p> <p> Obviously, we should carry this attitude with us everyday, not just on Thanksgiving. But the spirit of gratitude and contentedness is threatened by a moral failure that we rarely discuss: We have, in America today, a Covetousness Crisis.</p> <p> The Tenth Commandment, &quot;Thou Shalt Not Covet,&quot; often raises vocabulary questions in children&#39;s Sunday School classes. Killing, stealing, lying... those are pretty straightforward. But to covet, which means to &quot;yearn to possess,&quot; is a sin that we hear much less about.</p> <p> Perhaps it is less talked about because it is nearly omnipresent. Indeed, today we are saturated with covetousness. Of course, the goal of modern advertising is to inspire the desire to possess new things; so yes, consumerism and materialism fuel the natural human desire for more, newer, better things.</p> <p> But our covetousness crisis isn&#39;t just about material goods. With the advent and mass use of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media, we can now envy every experience of our neighbor, from the sushi she had last night to the love she (professedly) has for her spouse, to even her charitable support of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).</p> <p> And don&#39;t lie &ndash; you&#39;re guilty too. We have all, at least on occasions, presented our lives, online or otherwise, to paint the rosiest picture of our reality. This can inspire covetousness in others.</p> <p> There are at least two devastating effects of this covet-driven culture. One is personal and should be heart-breaking. Another may impact public policy.</p> <p> First, it robs us of our joy. There is already some evidence that looking at Facebook makes people depressed. Comparing ourselves to others (online or off) and coveting their lives makes us less capable of being satisfied with our own. Worse, it makes it difficult for us to truly celebrate blessings in the lives of others. She got a raise! He got married! They had a baby! These are wonderful things, but when they inspire pings of jealousy, we&#39;re living in (and participating in) a sad, depraved culture of envy and covetousness.</p> <p> Second, although there are many positive arguments in favor of online &quot;connectedness,&quot; the constant comparing and competing inspired by more (and selective) insight into the lives of others is fueling a widespread, covetousness-driven entitlement attitude that influences our public policies.</p> <p> Even if we don&#39;t know it, coveting the success and wealth of others is at the heart of economic redistribution. Of course, Americans have long supported social safety nets to provide for the indigent poor. But that&#39;s not what&#39;s at stake here.</p> <p> Today progressives disguise redistributive policies as aid for the poor, when in reality the goal is to create more equal outcomes for everyone, or parity in all aspects of life. Of course, dire poverty should trouble us; but &quot;economic inequality&quot; should not.</p> <p> Envy seduces the mind into a false belief that someone else&#39;s gain is our loss. Translated to economic views, this misguidedly paints the economy as a fixed pie, a zero-sum game, an unfair mixed bag of winners and losers.</p> <p> Obviously, life isn&#39;t fair, or equal. Sometimes others will experience good fortune, and we will feel shortchanged. Sometimes others are born into wealth, good genes or good family. But sometimes there&#39;s more to the story than what&#39;s been &quot;shared.&quot;</p> <p> Sometimes (often) a success comes with serious sacrifices and tradeoffs. Attempts to equalize life for everyone would not only lead to a boring society, but to more inequalities than existed in the first place, by eroding the relationship between virtues like hard work and gain. Russell Kirk wrote, &quot;In the long run, the envious society brings on proletarian tyranny and general poverty. In both the short run and the long run, the generous society encourages political freedom and economic prosperity.&quot;</p> <p> So how can we right the ship and turn away from covetous attitudes? The answer, as Kirk suggested, is generosity, which flows from a heart of thanksgiving.</p> <p> Each of us should evaluate whether we are fueling feelings of envy in our own hearts or whether we can celebrate and admire the successes of others. And, just as importantly, do we regularly recognize, celebrate, and give thanks for the blessings in our own lives?</p> <p> Like other moral struggles, the answer is not simply intellectual. This Thanksgiving, let&#39;s commit to intentionally practice thanksgiving and generosity everyday. These positive attitudes can catch on culturally, adding to our own happiness and the happiness of those around us, and discouraging the destructive attitudes that steal joy and threaten prosperity for all.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women&#39;s Forum.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathTue, 25 Nov 2014 12:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOne News Now: Quality of Care More Important Than Numbers<p> <strong>by Chris Woodward, Charlie Butts (</strong></p> <p> Meanwhile, the latest round of open enrollment in ObamaCare continues. But Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the&nbsp;<a href="">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a>, says there is more to consider than just the number of people who have or don&#39;t have insurance.</p> <p> &quot;... More importantly, I would ask: Are people satisfied with the kind of health insurance coverage that they have? Are they paying more in their premiums or in their out-of-pocket costs? Are they able to access as many doctors as they need? Are they able to buy the prescription medicine that they need to buy? There are a lot of [other] metrics.&quot;</p> <p> Manning points out millions of Americans were insured through government health insurance before ObamaCare, be it Medicare, Medicaid, or Veterans healthcare programs.</p> <p> &quot;Those programs had a lot of problems and continue to have a lot of problems,&quot; she adds. &quot;So really, I would focus on: Are people in the United States getting quality, affordable healthcare? That&#39;s the question &ndash; not so much,&nbsp;<em>How many people have enrolled in an ObamaCare plan?</em>&#39;&quot;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathTue, 25 Nov 2014 12:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDoes the Admin hope Americans will fall for irrelevant facts about the workforce? • Cavuto 11.17.14 HeathMon, 17 Nov 2014 16:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumObamaCare Goes Back to the Supreme Court<p> Today the Supreme Court announced it will hear the issue of Obamacare&rsquo;s subsidies in the federal exchange, which challengers have alleged are illegal. <a href="">Reuters</a> reports:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> In a one-sentence order, the court said it would decide a case brought by conservative challengers to the law. The plaintiffs appealed a July ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the subsidies. The nine justices will issue a ruling by the end of June.</p> <p> This suggests that the Justices are granting the cert <a href=";t=Challengers-in-King-Case-File-Cert-Petition">petition</a> filed in King v. Burwell.&nbsp; But the King case isn&rsquo;t the only one to deal with this issue. Notably, Halbig v. Burwell is a very similar case that won in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Often, in the case of a split circuit, the Court will combine cases to hear the same issue and resolve the conflicting lower court rulings.</p> <p> This issue poses an existential threat to ObamaCare. While it has been framed in the press as a politically-motivated attempt to gut ObamaCare of its subsidies (one of its essential features), this case is really about executing the law as it was written. Challengers point out that the law never authorized subsidies to be dispersed through a federal exchange, but only through an exchange established by a state.</p> <p> If the Supreme Court were to side with challengers and rule that the IRS overstepped and illegally changed the implementation of the law without Congressional approval, the result would be that no subsidies would flow through the federal exchange. But this would not be the fault of these lawsuits &ndash; it would simply be the execution of ObamaCare as written.</p> <p> Importantly, the subsidies trigger other not-so-popular mechanisms in the law, like mandates and penalties, which could also be affected if the law&rsquo;s challengers prevail.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathFri, 7 Nov 2014 13:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFair? Taxpayers sending fat pension checks to outgoing lawmakers • Arise Xchange HeathThu, 6 Nov 2014 07:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat should businesses expect from a divided Congress? • Cavuto HeathWed, 5 Nov 2014 11:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPresidential Gaffe: "Not a Choice We Want Americans to Make"<p> Last week as President Obama took questions from a group at Rhode Island College, he made the following remark:</p> <blockquote> <p> &quot;Too often, parents have no choice but to put their kids in cheaper day care that maybe doesn&rsquo;t have the kinds of programming that makes a big difference in a child&rsquo;s development... or the best programs may be too far away. And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that&rsquo;s not a choice we want Americans to make.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> Now, to be charitable to the President, who was speaking off the cuff, let&#39;s assume that he meant he did not want women to have to face the choice between motherhood and higher-paying careers. That is a nice idea. It&#39;s a nice thing to say. Women and men face a lot of challenging choices in life, and it seems like it would be nice to live in a world where we didn&#39;t face any negative tradeoffs.&nbsp;</p> <p> But the fact is that our choices do come with tradeoffs, and we all must face choices. <a href="">Mona Charen</a> helpfully breaks down the unrealistic idealism behind the President&#39;s remark:</p> <blockquote> <p> &quot;What will the government do &mdash; mandate that employers offer women who took perhaps years off to care for children the same pay and promotions they would have earned had they remained in the workforce? How would that be remotely possible?</p> <p> You&rsquo;d have to assume that the woman in question would have remained for all those years at the same firm, and would have been a good employee. You&rsquo;d also have to assume that the employer remains in business, that the kind of work the mom did is still needed and hasn&rsquo;t been superseded by technological or other changes. And what would become of the employee, male or female, who was doing the mom&rsquo;s work while she stayed home with the kids? Besides, if firms were required to pay above the market value to returning mothers, wouldn&rsquo;t that discourage hiring?&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p> Essentially, it is virtually impossible for government regulations or programs to eliminate all the career-related downsides of parenting. Spending time at home nurturing a young child requires sacrifice, and the President is correct that the responsibilities of childcare more often fall on women. &nbsp;As a young woman who hopes to one day be a mother, I very much sympathize with the conundrum: Will I sell myself short if I drop out of the work force to focus on my family? &nbsp;On the other hand, will I regret missing out on my children&#39;s childhoods if I &quot;lean in&quot; to a more demanding (and more lucrative) career? These choices are not easy for women (or men). But romanticizing about a world without tradeoffs won&#39;t make the issue go away.&nbsp;</p> <p> There is some good news: Advances in technology and new workplace policies are offering some women a third way, allowing women to remain attached to the work force through telecommuting or work-from-home jobs, even while parenting. And employers often offer this flexibility voluntarily, along with family leave, because they want to compete for today&#39;s working women, who desire such benefits. As of 2007, <a href="">82 percent of American workers</a> had access to some kind of paid leave benefit at their job. And today an estimated <a href=";t=Chapter%20Nine%20-%20Carrie%20Lukas">20 to 30 million Americans</a> work from home at least one day per week.&nbsp;</p> <p> Finally, and perhaps most importantly, as <a href="">Mollie Hemingway</a> and others have pointed out, we live in a culture that almost obsessively defines success as <em>career success</em>, in dollar amounts or notoriety. Obviously, we esteem some careers above others. We can make the mistake of thinking that people in high-paying careers are more valuable people than people in low-paying jobs. That&#39;s just not true. There are some skills and experiences that are more valuable in the workforce, but every man and woman is created equal with equal value. The contributions stay-at-home parents make to their families and to society at large should not be overlooked.&nbsp;</p> <p> And there may be real financial benefits to dividing home labor: Parents who decide to stay at home often free up their partner to work in more demanding (and more lucrative) jobs, which can make the whole family better off. Obviously this model isn&#39;t right for every family. But it&#39;s not wrong for every family either.&nbsp;</p> <p> And what about the joy of motherhood? There are some things for which we cannot assign a dollar amount of value. The experience of parenting, although costly in many ways, also comes with great joys and deeply meaningful rewards. It&#39;s no wonder that, despite the downsides, many women do decide to stay home with the kids. And if they can afford it, and that&#39;s what makes them happiest, then that IS a choice we want Americans to make.&nbsp;</p> HeathTue, 4 Nov 2014 14:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWomen and Midterm Elections: What drives women voters to the polls? • Al Jazeera America HeathFri, 31 Oct 2014 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMedicare Reform: Scrap the SGR and Use Markets to Control Costs<p> Competition for the biggest waste of time in Washington is fierce, but certainly the annual &quot;doc fix&quot; exercise deserves to be in the running.</p> <p> Medicare&#39;s Sustainable Growth Rate was created in an attempt to control Medicare&#39;s costs by tying the program&#39;s reimbursement rates to economic growth as measured by GDP. Such cuts were always a stretch--after all, doctors and hospitals need to receive competitive payments if they are going to continue to serve the Medicare population--but if implemented today, SGR cuts would be devastating to the medical community and the Medicare population.</p> <p> That&#39;s why each year Congress has a &quot;doc fix&quot; vote to suspend the upcoming rate cuts.</p> <p> Yet just because these cuts are always put off doesn&#39;t mean they don&#39;t do plenty of harm: The whole &quot;doc fix&quot; process creates uncertainty for doctors, patients, and taxpayers, and it&#39;s become a political football ripe for abuse. The doc fix vote enables doctors&#39; groups and other medical associations to shake down their members for political cash, and it wastes time and resources in our political system that would be better spent elsewhere.</p> <p> The SGR also masks the true cost of government health programs like Medicare. With SGR technically on the books, budgetary score outfits like the Congressional Budget Office have to report on Medicare&#39;s future costs as if SGR were going to be implemented. These scores make Medicare look less costly and more financially stable than it actually is.</p> <p> Instead of passing an annual &quot;doc fix,&quot; we should finally fix Medicare&#39;s reimbursement system for good.</p> <p> Of course, the Medicare program desperately needs cost control. More than 50 million seniors already depend on Medicare, and a coming wave of Baby Boomers will add to enrollment significantly. The average senior&nbsp;<a href="">takes out $3 in benefits for each dollar he paid in</a>. Unsurprisingly, this means Medicare today faces a 75-year unfunded liability of&nbsp;<a href=";utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=morningbell&amp;mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonuKjAZKXonjHpfsX56eUtXqW0lMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4AScVjI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFQrLBMa1ozrgOWxU%3D">more than $30 trillion</a>.</p> <p> So how should we reform Medicare&#39;s payment structure?</p> <p> In the short term, Congress should vote to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate formula. If we aren&#39;t going to follow it, what&#39;s the point of having it on the books? Suspending the SGR permanently would be better than the current practice of suspending it annually.</p> <p> Repealing the SGR would have several immediate benefits: For one, it would allow budget scoring agencies to more clearly depict Medicare&#39;s rising costs, and should inspire lawmakers to reform the program entirely. Repealing the SGR would also remove the annual invitation to waste time and money on the &quot;doc fix&quot; vote.</p> <p> A long-term solution to the problem of physician reimbursement entails broader reforms to the Medicare program. Ultimately, rather than relying on government projections and formulas, Congress should give Medicare patients more control over their health insurance and allow doctors to work with private insurers to treat these patients. Medicare should be reformed into a &quot;premium support&quot; program, in which seniors receive funds from the government and are free to find and buy a private health insurance plan of their choice.</p> <p> This would put these patients on equal footing with other (younger) patients who have private insurance, and would leave reimbursement rates between physicians and those insurers, getting government out of the business of setting rates. Lawmakers could even use permanent SGR repeal as a bargaining chip to advance these reforms.</p> <p> Medicare patients would ultimately be more satisfied with private insurance plans. Private insurers would have to compete for Medicare beneficiaries who would have a choice about where to spend their dollars. Not only would they compete on price, but on the quality of insurance (what&#39;s covered, size of provider network, etc.)</p> <p> And premium-support reforms would benefit taxpayers too. Premium support funding would encourage individual Medicare patients to efficiently use their health care dollars, and encourage insurers to deliver real value to this important group of consumers. Taxpayers would better be able to anticipate the programs&#39; costs and be assured that funds were being targeted wisely, since those with greater financial needs would be given a greater share of government support.</p> <p> That&#39;s the kind of &quot;fix&quot; that would benefit us all--doctors, patients, and taxpayers--and would mercifully eliminate one of Washington&#39;s most pointless and counterproductive annual political traditions.</p> HeathThu, 30 Oct 2014 14:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRole of health care in U.S. midterm elections • CCTV America HeathWed, 29 Oct 2014 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumArtificial Intelligence, Private Sector and Apple Pay • Cavuto HeathMon, 27 Oct 2014 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumJay Carney defending the President, saying he doesn't watch cable news • Cavuto HeathMon, 27 Oct 2014 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBusinesses, specifically tech companies, spending millions in favor of lawmakers • Cavuto HeathMon, 27 Oct 2014 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPlanned Parenthood Misunderstands The Costs Of Birth Control, And The Concept Of Real Choice<p> I&rsquo;m thankful that my&nbsp;<a href="">recent post on Forbes</a>&nbsp;gave Planned Parenthood the&nbsp;<a href="">opportunity to clarify their position on over-the-counter birth control</a>. It now appears their stance is not against over-the-counter birth control, but over-the-counter birth control coupled with repeal of the ObamaCare mandate that insurers must offer first-dollar prescription contraceptive coverage.</p> <p> As I wrote previously, these two policy issues need not be coupled. And it&rsquo;s refreshing to find common ground: All sides of the health care debate can encourage drug makers and the FDA to take the steps necessary to make oral contraception available over-the-counter.</p> <p> <strong>Debate comes down to the anti-choice, anti-competition mandate</strong></p> <p> The remaining debate therefore centers not on birth control, or even insurance coverage for birth control, but on whether the government should mandate that all health insurance plans must include this specific coverage package. It is strange that such a proudly pro-choice organization wouldn&rsquo;t recognize the irony in such efforts to limit consumers&rsquo; choices and force all women to pay for contraceptives (inefficiently) through insurance coverage.</p> <p> Their stance appears to rest on some flawed logic and a failure to appreciate how the cost of such mandates manifests. First, Planned Parenthood asserts that proposals that would move to a direct-pay model for birth control are harmful because they do not include &ldquo;cost reduction&rdquo; for women. This ignores how market competition naturally works to control prices. Obviously, other consumer goods do not have infinitely high prices in the absence of mandates because producers have to compete for customers.</p> <p> Planned Parenthood laments the high costs of many brands of oral contraception, but doesn&rsquo;t consider the rationale for those high prices and how greater accessibility would bring costs down. The &ldquo;Pill&rdquo; was introduced more than 50 years ago, and today it is cheap and easy to manufacture. Various pharmaceutical brands produce oral contraceptives, and in an over-the-counter model, these companies would be forced to compete on price. This means that neither women nor insurance policy holders in general would have to pay thousands of dollars each year for what should be an inexpensive product. In fact, already some consumers have found that for certain health services or medications, they&nbsp;<a href="">can find lower prices</a>&nbsp;when they offer to pay cash instead of invoking their insurance.</p> <p> The truly costly and noncompetitive model is the birth control mandate itself, where there is no price competition. Under the mandate, drug makers can charge unnecessarily high prices since those costs aren&rsquo;t borne directly by their costumers, but are passed on to a third party (the insurance company) who is now required by law to pick up the tab.</p> <p> <strong>Have ObamaCare&rsquo;s mandates saved money?</strong></p> <p> Planned Parenthood says American women have saved $483 million as a result of the birth control mandate. But this faulty math ignores one side of the equation: How coverage mandates drive up the cost of health insurance premiums so that everyone pays more. Women still pay for birth control, through higher premiums. (And the time costs involved in obtaining prescriptions.)</p> <p> The birth control mandate is just one of ObamaCare&rsquo;s many mandated coverage pieces. Together, these required benefits increase premiums greatly: Even former HHS Secretary&nbsp;<a href="">Nancy Pelosi</a>&nbsp;<a href="">admitted that ObamaCare plans cost more</a>because they offer more mandatory benefits&ndash;like it or not. And the Congressional Budget Office estimated that these new required benefits would raise premiums&nbsp;<a href="">27 to 30 percent</a>.</p> <p> (This is not to mention the unfairness of such increased bills for insured women who do not use these new benefits. And there are plenty of reasons why women wouldn&rsquo;t use contraception: Maybe they are celibate, too young, too old, already sterilized, in same-sex relationships, or actively trying to get pregnant.)</p> <p> And what about the uninsured? After all, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that&nbsp;<a href="">31 million Americans</a>&nbsp;will remain uninsured in 2024. Presuming about half of the uninsured are women, that&rsquo;s over 15 million women who would be far better served by over-the-counter options than the insurance mandate.</p> <p> <strong>Women know best: birth control is a personal choice and responsibility</strong></p> <p> Planned Parenthood criticizes over-the-counter birth control proposals for &ldquo;narrowly&rdquo; focusing on oral contraceptives&hellip;the most commonly used form. They argue that women should use more effective forms of birth control&ndash;specifically intrauterine devices or IUDs&ndash;instead of birth control pills, and they worry that making oral contraceptives available over-the-counter will discourage women from using IUDs. &ldquo;Women will end up paying more for less-effective birth control,&rdquo; they write. &ldquo;They will be left worse off.&rdquo;</p> <p> Why not allow individual women to decide what makes them better or worse off? Currently,&nbsp;<a href="">only 0.3 percent</a>&nbsp;of women aged 15 to 44 use IUDs. First of all, covering these devices from the first-dollar forever (and never exposing them to price competition) is a great way to keep them expensive.</p> <p> And secondly, while certainly some women may have avoided this method because of the upfront cost, others may not like the invasive or semi-permanent nature of such devices. Other women may prefer options that also protect against sexually transmitted diseases, a benefit that both IUDs and oral contraceptives lack. As Planned Parenthood can surely understand, choices about a woman&rsquo;s body are very personal. It follows that the responsibility (and cost) of these decisions should be left to individuals.</p> <p> <strong>Does insurance coverage for preventive care make economic sense?</strong></p> <p> Planned Parenthood also claims that insurance programs and companies can save money by offering comprehensive first-dollar contraceptive coverage. But if that were so, insurers would all do so without a government mandate. The mandate could be repealed, and insurance companies (and programs like Medicaid) could still offer the coverage out of their own self-interest.</p> <p> And more broadly speaking, research in the&nbsp;<a href="">New England Journal of Medicine</a>&nbsp;suggests Americans should be careful before accepting arguments about the cost-saving potential of preventive care:</p> <p style="margin-left:18.75pt;"> Sweeping statements about the cost-saving potential of prevention&hellip;are overreaching. Studies have concluded that preventing illness can in some cases save money but in other cases can add to health care costs&hellip;Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not. Careful analysis of the costs and benefits of specific interventions, rather than broad generalizations, is critical.</p> <p> No other type of insurance covers routine and expected costs: Car insurance doesn&rsquo;t cover oil changes or gasoline, no matter how important to a functioning car. My health insurance does not cover the cost of my fresh produce or water, although surely a healthy diet and drinkable water are essential to health. Where does such logic stop? At some point, individuals have to be responsible for what they consume.</p> <p> But it&rsquo;s really not my place to say what each person&rsquo;s insurance should or should not cover. That should be a decision left to each man, woman, or family. Sadly, Planned Parenthood doesn&rsquo;t share this view, taking a &ldquo;government-knows-best&rdquo; approach to what should be deeply personal health care decisions. In doing so, the nation&rsquo;s largest abortion provider is ironically showing a deep disdain for personal &ldquo;choice.&rdquo;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathSat, 25 Oct 2014 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMedicaid expansion will send our nearly $18 trillion debt higher • Your World with Neil Cavuto HeathThu, 23 Oct 2014 07:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum