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 Policies and How They Impact Americans • CC-TV America HeathWed, 19 Oct 2016 14:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPodcast #54 The Veterans Health Administration<p> Heather Madden sits down with IWF&#39;s Hadley Heath Manning to discuss the latest with the Veterans Health Administration. Americans need to understand the reasons why the Veterans Health Administration is failing to fulfill its mission. It is truly a government-run health system, experiencing the same symptoms of other governmentrun systems in various parts of the world. Without individual choice and competition, bureaucracy reigns.</p> HeathTue, 11 Oct 2016 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBill Clinton Hits Obamacare--But Is Hillary's Plan Any Better? HeathTue, 4 Oct 2016 12:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolicy Focus: The Veterans Health Administration<p style="text-align: center;"> &nbsp;</p> <p> <a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 550px; height: 206px;" /></a></p> <p> The United States has a long, proud history of caring for our veterans in many ways. This includes providing healthcare services to those who&rsquo;ve fought on behalf of our country.</p> <p> But sadly, today the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is plagued with dysfunction and is failing to meet the needs of the 8.3 million veterans who depend on this system for their care each year. A scandal in 2014 brought attention to &ldquo;unofficial&rdquo; and manipulated waiting lists, where tens of thousands of veterans languished waiting for care. Many veterans even died for lack of timely care. It is a sad irony that our most revered citizens, our veterans, suffer in a second-rate healthcare system with fewer options than other Americans.</p> <p> Americans need to understand the reasons why the Veterans Health Administration is failing to fulfill its mission. It is truly a government-run health system, experiencing the same symptoms of other governmentrun systems in various parts of the world. Without individual choice and competition, bureaucracy reigns.</p> <p> On the positive side, there are efforts underway to reform the Veterans Health Administration. The solution lies with allowing veterans a choice in their healthcare providers and facilities. America owes a special debt to our veterans, and competition would provide what they deserve: the best value for the best care.&nbsp;</p> <p> <a href=""><strong>Click here to continue reading the 6-page policy focus &gt;&gt;&gt;</strong></a></p> HeathMon, 3 Oct 2016 12:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDems Want To Take Competition Out Of Insurance Market<p> <strong>The push for a public option or single-payer scheme for healthcare is alive and well, but critics say people are failing to take things into account.</strong></p> <p> <a href="">Single payer</a> is a healthcare system in which one entity - the government - collects fees and pays for healthcare. That&#39;s different from a <a href="">public option</a>, which is a government-created and controlled health benefit plan that <a href="">Democrats want</a> to offer to create competition among private insurers on the exchanges.&nbsp;</p> <p> Speaking of the exchanges, co-ops have collapsed and many insurers are again raising premiums. <a href="">Some insurers will not offer coverage on many exchanges.</a> Recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield of <a href="">Tennessee</a> announced it will not be offering ObamaCare exchange plans in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville next year. Blue Cross Blue Shield of <a href="">Nebraska </a>said it was exiting that state&#39;s entire exchange. BCBS cites financial losses for the <a href="">decisions</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Everyone understands the ACA is a failure,&quot; says 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;">. &quot;The question is: Why - and where do we go from here?&quot;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Manning acknowledges that people on the left are pushing for a public option or single payer.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Unfortunately, what they fail to realize is that the ultimate failure of the Affordable Care Act is that it doesn&#39;t foster market competition,&quot; she says. &quot;When people have competition, when there is competition in these exchanges, that&#39;s when we can expect to see some downward pressure on price. But until that happens, we&#39;re headed in the opposite direction with insurance companies leaving the exchanges.&quot;&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">In a related article for the Hill, Manning writes that a public option would do more bad than good </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">for women</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, especially low-income women.</span></span></strong></span></p> HeathThu, 29 Sep 2016 09:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Real Problem With Maternity Leave<p> Presidential candidate Donald Trump recently released his plan to reform policies related to childcare and maternity leave in an effort to aid working families. The effort is welcome, even if his policy proposal isn&#39;t perfect.</p> <p> Trump proposes to guarantee all American women six weeks of paid maternity leave at half-salary, funded through unemployment insurance. This entitlement would only be offered to women whose employers don&#39;t currently offer a paid family leave benefit. The sentiment behind this proposal is admirable: We all want new moms to be able to spend time with their babies, if they choose. But this policy would come with significant downsides.</p> <p> Fiscal conservatives are criticizing the plan, predictably focusing on the budgetary impact. &quot;How much will this cost?&quot; they ask, and &quot;How will we pay for this?&quot; While concerns about the budget are important, this money-focused critique of government-guaranteed maternity leave is not likely to persuade anyone outside of conservative circles. After all, we live in a large country with a nearly $4 trillion national government budget. Shouldn&#39;t we make families a priority? This framework pits people against money, and it is an unfavorable battlefield for conservatives.</p> <p> This is the conflict at work in nearly every debate over social spending. Aren&#39;t outlays for education, health care, and now maternity leave more important than spending billions on bullets and bombs? Constitutional conservatives might point out that social programs do not have the constitutional mandate that military spending does, but this argument is likely to fall on deaf ears outside of Tea Party rallies.</p> <p> Americans who believe that government maternity leave programs would improve their lives and help people in need are focused on just that: How would this affect people like me? The national budget and the Constitution are at best secondary considerations.</p> <p> Least importantly, some election-minded conservatives might be wary of entering a bidding war with Hillary Clinton when it comes to paid maternity leave. Campaigning to become the first female president, Clinton has put family policy at the center of her agenda and hopes it will appeal to women voters. While Trump wants to ensure all women have access to six weeks of half-paid leave, Clinton can top that: She proposes twelve weeks of leave, and at a higher percentage of pay! Never enter a social spending bidding war with Democrats&mdash;you just can&#39;t win!</p> <p> Instead, this issue presents an opportunity for conservatives to explain the tradeoffs that come with government entitlement programs and explain how the real problem with government leave programs is that they won&#39;t actually improve Americans&#39; lives. In fact<em>, they could backfire on the very women they are intended to help.</em></p> <p> A government takeover of maternity leave &ndash; whether it&#39;s a mandate on employers or an entitlement program &ndash; would limit women&#39;s opportunities and our freedoms. The best argument against government maternity leave is that it would come with serious downsides for women&#39;s lives. And when women hear about an alternative, free-market solution, they prefer it to one-size-fits-all mandates.</p> <p> In the case of maternity leave mandates, often proposed by Democrats, the result would be clear: If you force all employers to offer paid leave, some employers will be less likely to hire and promote women, as this requirement raises the cost of employing women. Mandates limit the flexibility of women to negotiate individualized compensation plans with their employers (and the majority of employers offer some form of paid leave benefits without a government mandate).</p> <p> Trump&#39;s proposal to use unemployment insurance to fund maternity leave is much less intrusive than the plans offered by Democrats. Even so, it represents a costly, government-centric solution to a problem that would be better solved by the private sector, where women are free to find the work-life balance that best suits their preferences, their family&#39;s needs, and their budget.</p> <p> Another alternative to one-size-fits-all government intervention would be to allow families to save tax-free for a family leave period. This type of savings account, called a &quot;Personal Care Account&quot; (PCA) is more popular with the public than government meddling in maternity leave.</p> <p> When the Independent Women&#39;s Forum commissioned a message experiment, they found that, initially, 84 percent of Americans would support PCAs, compared to 74 percent support for paid leave mandates. When participants learned about the downside of leave mandates, support for PCAs increased 9 points over mandates.</p> <p> It&#39;s fair to criticize government attempts to takeover maternity leave by pointing out the budget impact. It&#39;s also good to remind our fellow Americans than the government does not have a constitutional role here. But if we truly want to change the hearts and minds of our compatriots, we should demonstrate how the real result on Americans&#39; lives will be less opportunity and less freedom and flexibility. That means it could harm women, rather than help them.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is a senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women&#39;s Forum and the Independent Women&#39;s Voice. She is also the Tony Blankley Chair at the Steamboat Institute. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our <a href="">guidelines on submissions.</a></em></p> HeathWed, 28 Sep 2016 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOver The Counter<p> When it comes to the availability of and access to birth control for women, who would you guess presents the biggest obstacles? The answer might surprise you.</p> <p> The Associated Press and other media outlets reported last week that Donald Trump says he believes women should be able to obtain birth control without a prescription. His comments came during an appearance on &ldquo;The Dr. Oz Show,&rdquo; on which Mr. Trump suggested that, for many women, obtaining a prescription can be challenging.</p> <p> The AP report pointed out that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists declared support for nonprescription birth control pills in 2012, but some groups oppose the measure because of the health risks associated with the medicines. Insurance also doesn&rsquo;t cover over-the-counter drugs, which could make the pills far more expensive. That&rsquo;s the talking point offered by Planned Parenthood and its fellow travelers, anyway.</p> <p> Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, warned that such a move would &ldquo;put access to birth control out of reach for millions of women by making it more expensive.&rdquo; NARAL Pro-Choice also voiced opposition, accusing Mr. Trump of fighting policies &ldquo;that actually help women.&rdquo;</p> <p> <span style="color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">But when has providing more competition and access led to a product becoming more expensive? Regarding common, safe and effective contraceptives, Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, made just that point in a 2014 commentary for Forbes:</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&ldquo;Consumers would be able to see on the shelf the different products that are available, compare prices and ultimately select the option that provides them with the best value, just as they choose products in other markets. Providers would truly have to compete for women&rsquo;s business, which would lead to lower prices, more innovation and better products. What&rsquo;s not to like?&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Further, Ms. Manning upended the purported insurance issue, noting that &ldquo;Plan B&rdquo; emergency contraception is already available over the counter, with the Affordable Care Act&rsquo;s insurance coverage mandate applying to the so-called morning-after pill. &ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t it a little strange that &lsquo;Plan B&rsquo; is available without a prescription, and yet &lsquo;Plan A&rsquo; (or normal, before-the-fact birth control) is not?&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Ms. Manning notes that Planned Parenthood claims to be dedicated to reproductive health and access to such services. If so, its stance on deregulation makes no sense. What&rsquo;s really at play, she argues, is the bottom line.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&ldquo;Planned Parenthood rakes in $1.2 billion annually,&rdquo; Ms. Manning writes. &ldquo;More than a third of their services involve providing contraception to women (and billing third parties for those costs). As a major provider of birth control and the nation&rsquo;s No. 1 abortion provider, why would Planned Parenthood support other options for women? &hellip; Who&rsquo;s working against women now?&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Precisely.</p> <p> This is protectionism, pure and simple. You can&rsquo;t argue that you&rsquo;re in favor of availability and access, while doing all you can to limit availability and access. If Planned Parenthood is really about what it claims to be about, then it should welcome the access &mdash; and better prices &mdash; that competition provides.</p> HeathTue, 27 Sep 2016 11:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumClinton's Public Option--Not Good For Women<p> <a href=""><strong>Hillary Clinton</strong></a>, campaigning to be America&rsquo;s first female president, often touts her policy agenda as one that will help women and their families. However, her support for a &ldquo;public option&rdquo; for health insurance would ultimately do more bad than good for women, especially low-income women.</p> <p> Many American women already depend on a public program for health insurance. In fact, the majorities of beneficiaries in Medicaid, Medicare, and Obamacare are women. Some on the left argue that this means these programs are helpful for women. But, on the contrary, these programs face serious problems that are harmful to the millions of women who depend on them.</p> <p> It is common knowledge that Medicaid patients have more restricted access to healthcare providers than patients with private health insurance, and <a href=""><strong>inferior health outcomes</strong></a>. The reason is simple: Medicaid reimbursements to providers are well below those of private insurers, meaning many providers do not accept Medicaid patients or must limit the share of their patient pool with Medicaid.</p> <p> For Medicaid beneficiaries, this often means it is difficult to get a timely doctor&rsquo;s appointment. &nbsp;Medicaid patients often end up seeking care for non-acute medical problems in an emergency room, where they cannot be turned away. &nbsp;When they are seen, sometimes their health issue has progressed to a point that they face a less favorable prognosis and require more serious treatment.</p> <p> Obamacare&rsquo;s exchange plans aren&rsquo;t much better. The <a href=""><strong>narrow networks</strong></a> offered in these plans similarly restrict where patients can access care and which providers they can see.</p> <p> On the other hand, most senior citizens who use Medicare would say they are pleased with the program. <a href=""><strong>Satisfaction surveys suggest</strong></a> that the program for the elderly is doing a better job serving beneficiaries, probably because Medicare reimbursement levels are higher than those in Medicaid.</p> <p> Attempting to use Medicare&rsquo;s high approval ratings as political capital, some democrats are proposing to expand Medicare &ldquo;for all&rdquo; as the &ldquo;public option.&rdquo;</p> <p> They should study the <a href=";mc_eid=5eb9126e43"><strong>impact of Obamacare&rsquo;s Medicaid expansion</strong></a>, however, which is ultimately hurting the indigent poor, pregnant women, children, and others who long depended on the program before it was expanded. &nbsp;The expansion added millions of childless adults up to 138 percent of the poverty level without addressing the access issue, effectively making the ratio of providers to patients worse. &nbsp;That means that it&rsquo;s become even harder for people to get appointments and the care they need.</p> <p> Medicare&rsquo;s financial situation is unsustainable. &nbsp;Although today&rsquo;s beneficiaries are (for the most part) able to access the care they need, tomorrow&rsquo;s Medicare patients will pay the price. Medicare faces an unfunded liability of <a href=""><strong>$32.4 trillion over 75 years</strong></a> (a conservative estimate), and the Part A Trust Fund is <a href=""><strong>scheduled to run out of money in 2028</strong></a>. At this time, the program will only be able to fund 87 percent of benefits. The government can delay this inevitability, but they cannot deny it.</p> <p> Americans should recognize that government does not have a good track record in the insurance business. Out-of-control costs, limited access, and inferior care &mdash; these are not coincidental outcomes, but inherent characteristics of government health programs.</p> <p> Therefore, we should expect a &ldquo;public option&rdquo; in health care to offer more of the same. Low-income women and other marginalized groups would inevitably become the lion&rsquo;s share of enrollees, only to experience substandard care once in the government program. &nbsp;Public systems always result in two tiers: those trapped on the public side, and others who are lucky enough to have the resources to escape to or remain on the private side.</p> <p> Instead of expanding the government&rsquo;s role, we should focus on moving as many women (and men) into health plans where they will experience the best access and outcomes &mdash; private insurance plans. To do this, we must focus on the main obstacle between customers and these plans, which is cost. Reducing mandated benefits and other unnecessary regulations would be a good first step. Offering tax relief to those who buy insurance on their own would also make private plans more affordable. &nbsp;</p> <p> If Clinton and other democrats pushing a new public option for health care really wanted to help low-income women and their families, they&rsquo;d start by addressing the problems in the government programs that are already failing so many. Women certainly don&rsquo;t need yet another substandard &ldquo;option.&rdquo; Clinton and others should instead focus on making the best care our country has to offer available to everyone by fostering an affordable, competitive private marketplace.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is the director of health policy at the Independent Women&#39;s Forum and a Tony Blankley Fellow for the Steamboat Institute.</em></p> HeathMon, 26 Sep 2016 13:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHillary Will Have To Walk Fine Line Talking About Economy In Debate • Your World HeathMon, 26 Sep 2016 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDebate Over Comparable Worth • Brian Lehrer Show HeathFri, 23 Sep 2016 14:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolitical Ramifications of NY/NJ Bombings & Paid Maternity Leave Policies • Newsmax Prime HeathTue, 20 Sep 2016 09:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWas Trump To Hasty Calling Attack A Bombing? • Risk & Reward HeathMon, 19 Sep 2016 07:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump Focusing On Policy Vs. Personality Is Working • Coast To Coast HeathWed, 14 Sep 2016 12:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew Blankley Fellow: IWF’s Hadley Heath Manning<p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img alt=" photo 598x391-Steamboat_zps5esdhzcb.png" border="0" src="" /></a></p> <p> We are proud to announce today that&nbsp;Hadley Heath Manning is the recipient of the 2016-17 Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism.</p> <p> &ldquo;At the young age of 28, Hadley has established a national reputation as an excellent communicator on health care policy issues,&rdquo; said Founder Jennifer Schubert-Akin.&nbsp;&ldquo;Like Tony Blankley, Hadley has a passion for clearly articulating free-market solutions for the proper role of government and what it means for citizens to re-assert their sovereignty and independence. We are proud to support the work of this outstanding young leader.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;It is an incredible honor to be selected as the next Tony Blankley Chair,&rdquo; said Manning, senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum. &ldquo;I have long admired the Steamboat Institute, and I look forward to working with this esteemed organization dedicated to America&rsquo;s founding ideas and our continued national prosperity. I will strive to honor Tony Blankley&rsquo;s name and legacy; he was the best kind of champion for conservatism, always communicating effectively and with wit and good cheer. I&rsquo;m very thankful for this opportunity and can&rsquo;t wait to get started.&rdquo;</p> <p> Manning will receive a $10,000 stipend, as well as support for travel, speaking engagements and investigative reporting trips. She will be honored at a dinner as part of the Steamboat Institute&rsquo;s 8th Annual Freedom Conference &amp; Festival in Steamboat Springs, CO on August 26, 2016, where Carly Fiorina will be the keynote speaker.</p> <p> &ldquo;Hadley will be a strong and committed Fellow who will work hard to advocate for the Steamboat Institute principles that Tony wrote and spoke about so forcefully and eloquently,&rdquo; said Lynda Davis, widow of Tony Blankley.</p> <p> The Selection Committee for the Tony Blankley Chair includes:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; Ed Meese &ndash; 75th Attorney General of the United States</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; Lynda Davis, Ph.D. &ndash; widow of Tony Blankley</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; Steve Hofman &ndash; Consultant; former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; Mary Kissel &ndash; Wall Street Journal editorial board</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; Lauren Maddox &ndash; Principal, Podesta Group; former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; Thomas P. McDevitt &ndash; Chairman, Board of Directors &ndash; The Washington Times</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; John O&rsquo;Sullivan &ndash; British commentator and former speechwriter for Prime Minister</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; Margaret Thatcher; Senior Fellow with National Review</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; John Roberts &ndash; author and TV producer for The McLaughlin Group (on which Tom Rogan is a panelist and on which Tony Blankley was a panelist for many years)</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &bull;&nbsp; &nbsp;Tom Rogan &ndash; Senior Blankley Fellow and columnist for National Review</p> <p> &ldquo;Reviewing the tremendous group of emerging thought leaders this year was really inspirational,&rdquo; said Tom McDevitt, chairman of the board of directors, The Washington Times. &ldquo;These are the times in which efforts like those of the Steamboat Institute make a vital contribution in shoring up the willpower to overcome the myriad challenges we face in America.&rdquo;</p> <p> In addition to naming Hadley Heath Manning as the 2016-17 Chair, the Steamboat Institute is announcing that previous Chairs Jillian Melchior and Tom Rogan will continue to work with the Steamboat Institute as Senior Fellows.</p> <p> &ldquo;In recognition of the outstanding contributions of Tom Rogan and Jillian Melchior, we are continuing our collaboration with each of them as Senior Fellows. We will be establishing a nationwide Tony Blankley Fellows Lecture Series and will also provide support for their investigative reporting on matters of national and global interest,&rdquo; said Schubert-Akin.</p> <p> &ldquo;Tom and Jillian&rsquo;s leadership as our first two Tony Blankley Fellows set this program on a great path,&rdquo; Schubert-Akin said. &ldquo;As the trailblazers for this endeavor, we wanted to honor their contributions by naming them as our Senior Fellows.&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>About Hadley Heath Manning</strong></p> <p> Hadley Heath Manning is a senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum. She frequently comments on health care, entitlements and economic policy, and manages IWF&rsquo;s health policy projects and publications. Manning appears frequently in radio and TV outlets across the country, including Fox Business&rsquo; Stossel Show and Fox News&rsquo; Your World with Neil Cavuto. Her work has been featured in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, POLITICO, Roll Call, Real Clear Policy, National Review Online and Huffington Post. In 2016, Manning was named to Forbes&rsquo; 30 Under 30 list in Law and Policy. In 2015, the Republican National Committee honored her as a Rising Star, and in 2014, she was named to the Red Alert Politics 30 Under 30 list. She has also completed the National Review Institute&rsquo;s Washington Fellowship, class of 2012-2013. Manning graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina in 2010 as a Morehead-Cain Scholar with a double major in economics and journalism.</p> <p> <strong>About the Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism</strong></p> <p> The Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism was established by the Steamboat Institute to provide high-profile recognition and financial support to emerging conservative thought leaders who share the principles and ideals espoused by the late Tony Blankley and the Steamboat Institute. Those principles are lower taxes, limited government, free market capitalism, individual rights and responsibilities, and strong national defense.</p> <p> Tony Blankley (1948-2012) was editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He served as press secretary for Newt Gingrich during his tenure as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s. He was also a regular panelist on The McLaughlin Group and later served as Executive Vice President with Edelman public relations in Washington, D.C. Mr. Blankley served as Conference Moderator for the Steamboat Institute&rsquo;s first three Freedom Conferences (2009, 2010 and 2011).</p> <p> <strong>About Jillian Melchior</strong></p> <p> Jillian Kay Melchior, political editor at Heat Street, is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum. She does investigative reporting on domestic issues, including government waste, fraud and abuse, energy and environment issues, and organized labor. She has lived in China, reporting on Christianity and persecution, and has also done foreign correspondence in Iraq, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.</p> <p> She has worked as an investigative reporter for National Review and the Franklin Center, an editorial writer for The Daily, an online editor for Commentary, a Robert Novak fellow, and a Bartley Fellow at the Wall Street Journal Asia. Her writings have been published in National Review, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, TechCrunch, The Detroit News and other publications. She is a graduate of Hillsdale College and a native of Cheyenne, Wyoming.</p> <p> Follow Jillian on Twitter @JillianKayM</p> <p> <strong>About Tom Rogan</strong></p> <p> In 2014, Tom Rogan was the recipient of the inaugural Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism. In 2015, in recognition of Tom&rsquo;s outstanding contributions as the inaugural Blankley Chair, the Steamboat Institute extended Tom&rsquo;s fellowship, naming him &ldquo;Senior Fellow.&rdquo;</p> <p> Rogan is based in Washington, D.C., and is a columnist for both National Review and Opportunity Lives. He is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and makes frequent appearances on various TV programs, including The Greg Gutfeld Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, Fox News, CNN, Newsmax TV, BBC News and many others. Rogan is an honors graduate of King&rsquo;s College of London (War Studies) and a graduate of the law program at The College of Law, London.</p> <p> Follow Tom on Twitter @TomRtweets</p> <p> <strong>About the Steamboat Institute</strong></p> <p> The Steamboat Institute is a Colorado-based 501(c)(3) non-partisan educational organization, founded in 2008. The Steamboat Institute promotes America&rsquo;s first principles and inspires active involvement in the defense of liberty.</p> <p> For more information on the Steamboat Institute, the Tony Blankley Chair and the 8th Annual Freedom Conference &amp; Festival, Aug 26-27, 2016, please visit</p> HeathMon, 8 Aug 2016 09:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumObama Justice Department Makes Case Against Single-Payer Healthcare<p> They didn&rsquo;t mean to, but officials at the Obama Justice Department have laid out the case against government-run healthcare. In filing suit against mammoth health insurance mergers, they&rsquo;ve explained that reduced competition limits options for consumers, raises costs, and threatens access to care. &nbsp;That&rsquo;s exactly why a single-payer system would be a disaster for America.</p> <p> The Justice Department is right: competition is good for consumers, and the government does have a legitimate role in enforcing antitrust laws. The recent trend in healthcare and health insurance markets, driven mostly by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has been toward consolidation.</p> <p> But the&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>Justice Department intervened</strong></a>&nbsp;against billion-dollar mergers between Cigna and Anthem, Humana and Aetna&mdash; together four of the largest insurers in the country &mdash; to try to preserve options for consumers. &nbsp;The public should applaud this move and support more actions to reform public policies and foster greater competition.</p> <p> First, a little background: Why are these gigantic companies attempting to merge? They&rsquo;ve suffered under the ACA, losing&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>billions of dollars in the law&rsquo;s exchanges</strong></a>, where enrollees are sicker and more costly than they anticipated. The law requires them to write policies for any and everyone, and to price those policies blindly, without regard for the many factors that would typically dictate financial risk.</p> <p> These large insurers have suffered, but they&rsquo;ve survived: In this sense they are the fortunate few. Many smaller insurers have already&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>shuttered their doors</strong></a>&nbsp;in the wake of the law&rsquo;s expensive regulations and poorly designed structure.</p> <p> The Government Accountability Office studied this phenomenon in 2014 and found that the average number of individual insurance plans available to consumers in each state shrunk from&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>36 to three in just two years</strong></a>, a 90 percent decrease. Even the non-profit Consumer-Oriented and Operated Plans (or &ldquo;co-ops&rdquo;) created by the law have failed at a rate of&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>nearly 70 percent</strong></a>, mostly for the same financial reasons.</p> <p> As expensive as health insurance plans are today, it&rsquo;s hard for consumers to shed tears for insurance companies. Many people have had terrible customer service experiences with insurers who seem intent on charging as much and offering as little as possible. In some sense, our interests will always be opposed: Consumers want the greatest value for themselves, while companies are out to maximize profit.</p> <p> However, consumers should recognize that the profit motive, when combined with market competition, can serve us well. When sellers compete, they attempt to undercut one another on price and outdo one another in the quality of services or goods provided. &nbsp;If they fail to do so, then they will go out of business, meaning it&rsquo;s in their interest to serve customers.</p> <p> The problem with our current health system is not the profit motive, but a lack of competition. This problem would get worse in the wake of large-scale mergers, but consumers are already suffering from a non-competitive insurance marketplace.</p> <p> The ACA effectively requires all plans to offer the same coverage, at levels that vary only according to the government standards of bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. In some sense, the only variation among insurance companies is the logo next to the plans they sell. This meaningless competition doesn&rsquo;t offer real choice.</p> <p> However, things could get worse. The ultimate lack of competition is single-payer, also known as socialized medicine, or most recently, &ldquo;Medicare for all.&rdquo; Put simply, this proposed policy change would replace private insurance companies entirely, instead using government funds to pay for everyone&rsquo;s medical costs.</p> <p> In this case, the government would function as a monopsony, with all the downsides spelled out in the Justice Department&rsquo;s case against mergers between private companies: reduced competition, higher costs, more difficult access to care. &nbsp;Moving to a single-payer system would make it harder, perhaps impossible, to change laws in the opposite direction to encourage greater competition among private companies.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s likely tempting for many consumers, burned by the ACA&rsquo;s disappointing results, to trade one bad, government-centric approach for another. But we risk learning the wrong lesson from the ACA if we blame private companies, rather than a lack of competition, for the law&rsquo;s failure.</p> <p> The Justice Department is right that competition is the key to providing consumers with some control on price and some leverage in the marketplace. But we can&rsquo;t just stop at preventing mergers; we should apply this lesson more broadly and reform our healthcare system to better foster a more robust, competitive market with consumers at the center.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is the director of health policy for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</em></p> HeathFri, 29 Jul 2016 07:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum