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 Health Care and Tax Reform Come This Week? • Coast To Coast HeathThu, 27 Apr 2017 13:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIt's Time To Make Birth Control Available Over The Counter<p> Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, has introduced legislation that would make birth control access easier and more affordable for many women. The bill, called the Over-the-Counter Contraceptives Act, would encourage drug companies to apply for Rx-to-OTC status for birth control drugs by waiving their Food and Drug Administration filing fee and accelerating the approval process.</p> <p> This bill should be a commonsense bipartisan effort, one that American women should applaud. Conventional birth control drugs have been around for decades. They are safe and effective, and women should not be required to visit a doctor and/or get a prescription to get routine birth control. Importantly, the bill would not change the FDA&#39;s standard for safety and efficacy for these drugs or others.</p> <p> The Over-the-Counter Contraceptives Act, sponsored by several Republican legislators, runs counter to an unfair narrative that Republicans oppose birth control. This narrative is leftover from the debate over the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which required practically every insurance policy in the nation to cover all FDA-approved forms of birth control with no copay. Republicans oppose this policy approach and the ACA generally, so naturally women&#39;s rights groups accused them standing in opposition to greater birth control access and won&#39;t give up that line of argument now.</p> <p> But the ACA policy on birth control was misguided for many reasons.</p> <p> First, there was an inevitable culture clash: Not everyone uses birth control, and in fact some Americans, including devout Catholics, find it morally unconscionable. This issue led to <a href="">more than 100 lawsuits</a>, even ultimately reaching the Supreme Court in the Little Sisters of the Poor case, named <a href=""><em>Zubik v. HHS</em></a>.</p> <p> Second, this policy of no-copay birth control does little to help women who do not have health insurance. Despite the ACA&#39;s effort to maximize insurance coverage, approximately 30 million people (about half of which are women) were left with no coverage. To get birth control, uninsured women may have to shoulder not just the costs of their pills, but also the cost of a doctor visit (to get the prescription).</p> <p> Third, for women who do have insurance, the Affordable Care Act&#39;s policy didn&#39;t really make birth control or preventive care visits &quot;free.&quot; We all still pay for these costs, but they are hidden in the cost of (now much higher) insurance premiums.</p> <p> In contrast, the Over-the-Counter Contraceptives Act would actually reduce the time and cost associated with accessing birth control drugs for many women. If drug makers respond to the incentives in the bill and more contraceptives are made available over the counter, then women can conveniently buy birth control as they need it, without having to contact a doctor&#39;s office and/or order and wait for prescription refills.</p> <p> Progressives sometimes fear that over-the-counter birth control would result in women paying out-of-pocket for these drugs, and they point out that some women do not have the means to do so.</p> <p> Actually, making drugs available OTC will help low-income women most of all. Because of market competition, moving drugs to OTC can result in significant cost reductions. For example, when Claritin went from prescription-only to OTC, the price of the drug fell <a href="">50 percent within a year</a>.</p> <p> The Over-the-Counter Contraceptives Act would also allow women to use Health Savings Accounts to pay for OTC drugs (of all kinds), which would encourage women to save for this expense and reward them with a tax break when they do. There are also government programs and private organizations that help poor women who truly lack the resources to buy birth control, all of which would continue if it became available over the counter.</p> <p> Perhaps most important, making access to birth control more convenient could help women avoid unplanned pregnancies. A study from the University of California at San Francisco and Ibis Reproductive Health estimates that OTC birth control access could lead to as much as a <a href="">25 percent decline</a> in unplanned pregnancies.</p> <p> Americans, particularly the millions of women who use birth control daily, would benefit from the Over-the-Counter Contraceptives Act.</p> HeathThu, 27 Apr 2017 12:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolicy Focus: Getting Americans Back To Work<p> Today about 63 percent of Americans participate in the labor force, meaning they are working or looking for work. This is the lowest participation rate since the 1970s.</p> <p> Of course, there are many reasons why people may choose not to work or seek work. They may be retired, pursuing educational opportunities, or doing the very important (but unpaid) work of caring for children or elderly family members. But much of the recent reduction in labor force participation is due to out-of-work Americans giving up on finding the right jobs. And long-term unemployment can have serious consequences.</p> <p> Polling from the 2016 presidential election shows that &ldquo;jobs and the economy&rdquo; was the number one issue. Even other issues, like immigration and trade policy, were framed as jobs-related. It&rsquo;s clear that Americans are not satisfied with the economic opportunities available, and want a change of direction. They want Americans to go back to work.</p> <p> In order to undo this recent exodus from the labor force, policymakers should focus on a few key issue areas: fostering economic growth by reducing economic burdens on employers, reforming an entitlements system that discourages work, and closing the skills gap so that the workers seeking work are equipped for the jobs available.</p> <p> <strong><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="">CLICK HERE TO READ THE 6-PAGE POLICY FOCUS &gt;&gt;&gt;</a></span></strong></p> HeathMon, 24 Apr 2017 11:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThis Is How Trump Can Get Millenials To Work • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 22 Apr 2017 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSouthern Border Wall + Terrorism: Even More Reason For The Wall? • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 22 Apr 2017 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTax Reform Coming This Week? • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 22 Apr 2017 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum'Invisible High-Risk Pools' – An Explanation<p> <strong>An obscure policy mechanism in a healthcare bill from House Republicans continues to have people talking.</strong></p> <p> An amendment to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) has been offered by Representatives Gary Palmer (R-Alabama) and David Schweikert (R-Arizona). It&#39;s modeled after legislation in Maine and provides an additional $15 billion in funding for &quot;invisible high-risk pools.&quot;</p> <p> &quot;There was sort of this unifying theory [asking] &#39;What are we doing to lower premiums for those individuals in that individual healthcare market?&#39;&quot; Schweikert said in a recent press conference announcing <a href="">the amendment</a>. &quot;Five percent of our brothers and sisters who have chronic conditions are functionally 50 percent of our healthcare costs &ndash; and because of that, we have this hockey stick curve.&quot;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, admits the idea isn&#39;t well known.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;We have to keep in mind that health policy is kind of on a spectrum when it comes to how much the government is going to be involved or not involved,&quot; she says. &quot;Right now, Republicans are working very hard to try to find a compromise within the party so they can get a simple majority in the House.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Negotiations aside, Manning agrees that five percent of people amount to 50 percent of healthcare expenses. She believes that fact should be kept that in mind when health insurance regulations are being designed.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Under the Affordable Care Act, one reason why many people have seen increased premiums is because the most expensive customers are essentially in the same pool with some of the less-expensive customers &ndash; people who are healthy and don&#39;t go to the doctor very often &ndash; and that&#39;s why premiums for everyone are pretty high,&quot; she explains.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;But if you use an invisible risk pool or really any kind of high-risk pool, you&#39;re drawing out the most expensive members of the pool and you&#39;re targeting usually government-subsidized relief to the people who need it most.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Manning considers that a totally different approach from the Affordable Care Act that sort of pools everyone together.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;The idea is, of course, if you use a high-risk pool and you draw out the high-risk customers, then most people pay a very affordable, pretty low premium in comparison to what we&#39;ve seen today,&quot; she offers.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">What about the $15 billion? Is Manning concerned that could become $25 billion down the road?</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I tend to believe the government unfortunately as a trend underestimates how expensive healthcare costs can be and how fast they can grow &ndash; so that&#39;s certainly a concern,&quot; she responds.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;The question facing policymakers today is &#39;What is the most cost-effective way to try to find balance between some of the promises that they&#39;ve made about insuring that all people, including people with pre-existing conditions, can access affordable, private health insurance policies while at the same time trying to keep premiums low for everyone?&#39;&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <a href="">A recent report</a> from Milliman finds that a risk-sharing program, such as the one in the Palmer-Schweikert amendment, could actually lower premiums while providing aid to people with pre-existing conditions. The Milliman report was <a href="">commissioned</a> by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA).</p> <p> <a href="">In an earlier report</a>, however, a federal policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation criticized the proposed amendment, saying it mirrors current ObamaCare policy.</p> HeathWed, 19 Apr 2017 09:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNorth Korea Official Blames Trump for Rising Tensions • Coast to Coast (04.14.2017) HeathMon, 17 Apr 2017 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShould Medicaid Be Converted to a Block-Grant Program?<p> It costs a lot more to provide medical care to the country&rsquo;s poor today than it did when Medicaid was introduced: about $554 billion in 2015, compared with about $1 billion in 1966, the program&rsquo;s first full year.</p> <p> The bulk of this increase was driven not by rising health-care costs as much as it was by vast increases in the number of people covered by Medicaid, including millions more in the past few years alone under the Affordable Care Act.</p> <p> Republicans in Congress say the program has become unsustainable. Medicaid&rsquo;s current funding, they say&mdash;a guaranteed federal matching rate based on what each state spends, with a slightly larger percentage of costs matched in poorer states&mdash;should be replaced with a system that will cap, and in time reduce, the federal share of Medicaid costs. States would choose between a lump sum of money, called a block grant, or per capita funding tied to the number of people enrolled in their program.</p> <p> With either choice, the federal share of Medicaid spending would decline over time because the formula sets spending at a specific amount projected to grow at a slower rate than actual health spending.</p> <p> Critics of cuts in Medicaid, including Democrats and some Republican governors, argue that it will lead to reduced service and eligibility for the people who need it most.</p> <p> Making the case for block grants is Hadley Heath Manning, a senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, and a Tony Blankley Fellow at the Steamboat Institute. Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, argues against them.</p> <h6> <span style="font-size:16px;">YES: It Would Cut Costs and Provide Better Care for the Needy</span></h6> <p> <strong>By Hadley Heath Manning</strong></p> <p> Some argue that Medicaid reform would inevitably lead to unfavorable changes in eligibility or benefits. This defense of the status quo presumes that Medicaid is serving the right people, and serving them well. But this is not the case. Medicaid today is dysfunctional, with its use of matching funds distorting budgets and encouraging wasteful practices. Its inadequate reimbursements to care providers, meanwhile, limit services for those who need them most.</p> <p> By ending federal matching funds and shifting managerial responsibility to the states, Republicans propose to modernize Medicaid&rsquo;s funding and give local authorities greater flexibility to design program innovations that are more specific to each state&rsquo;s needs.</p> <p> Don&rsquo;t believe those who say Medicaid is efficient. The reason it costs less than private insurance is because it provides less. Medicaid provides &ldquo;comprehensive coverage,&rdquo; but coverage isn&rsquo;t care. It is easy to write down a long list of services that are covered. Think of it as having a coupon for free health care&mdash;a coupon that is difficult, sometimes impossible, to redeem.</p> <p> Even before the Affordable Care Act added millions more patients to the strained program, a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">study</a>&nbsp;published by Health Affairs found that about one-third of doctors would not accept new Medicaid patients.</p> <p> Indeed, Medicaid costs less than private health insurance because it pays health-care providers less than private insurance&mdash;and this is nothing to brag about. Medicaid&rsquo;s substandard reimbursement levels are directly responsible for the trouble its patients have in accessing high-quality and timely care. Many experience delayed care and inferior health outcomes as a result, according to a Heritage Foundation&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">report</a>. Similarly,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">research</a>&nbsp;compiled by the Manhattan Institute found that Medicaid patients were more likely to die during surgery and less likely to be diagnosed with deadly cancers in earlier, more treatable phases.</p> <p> This is a tragedy, especially given the tremendous spending on Medicaid each year. All Americans deserve to know that the dollars they are spending to help people in need are being used wisely and effectively. A recent&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">study</a>&nbsp;published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that each dollar of Medicaid spending delivers only 20 to 40 cents of welfare benefit to recipients.</p> <p> The truly needy sick, the population for whom Medicaid was created, bear the burden of the program&rsquo;s present brokenness.</p> <p> States know their own needs best, and it&rsquo;s much easier for constituents to provide feedback to state lawmakers than to congressmen. But states are addicted to a federal funding mechanism that precludes real reform. The federal government matches each dollar of state Medicaid outlays at a rate that varies from $1 to $3 by state, depending on need. States are thus effectively paid to spend on Medicaid, enticing them even to prioritize Medicaid over other state budget items, such as education.</p> <p> The situation has become even worse under the ACA expansion, which pays states an enhanced rate for new enrollees in Medicaid. Many able-bodied adults have been spun into Medicaid&rsquo;s web. These people would be better served by health policies that are more affordable for them and offer a greater choice of private health insurance that suits their needs.</p> <p> State lawmakers need to refocus the Medicaid program on its original mission&mdash;serving the truly vulnerable poor. Reforms proposed by Republicans would also lead to reductions in administrative costs, waste, fraud and abuse. Year after year, the Government Accountability Office names Medicaid a &ldquo;high-risk&rdquo; program. And it&rsquo;s getting worse: The program&rsquo;s &ldquo;improper payment rate&rdquo;&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">grew</a>&nbsp;to 9.8% ($29 billion) in 2015 from 6.7% ($17.5 billion) in 2014, just on the federal side.</p> <p> The ACA included about 20 tax increases to pay for its expansion of Medicaid. Undoing the law means undoing this new spending as well as undoing the tax increases (some of which affect low- and middle-income Americans as well as the wealthy).</p> <p> Per capita allotments or block grants may result in reduced federal spending, but their primary purpose is to bring about reform of Medicaid. If the federal government&rsquo;s only goal in Medicaid was reduced spending, it could keep the current &ldquo;matching&rdquo; scheme and simply reduce the federal match rate for states, but this wouldn&rsquo;t be real reform.</p> <p> <em>Ms. Manning is a senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, and a Tony Blankley Fellow at the Steamboat Institute. She can be reached at&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</em></p> HeathWed, 12 Apr 2017 12:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMSNBC conspiracy theory: Putin planned Syrian attacks to help Trump • After the Bell HeathTue, 11 Apr 2017 09:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCan American Lawmakers Find Common Ground on Healthcare? • RT Boom Bust HeathMon, 3 Apr 2017 12:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhite House Calls to Privatize Air-Traffic Control • Bulls & Bears HeathThu, 30 Mar 2017 08:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew Fox News Poll: Tax Cuts Higher Priority to Americans than Obamacare • Bulls & Bears HeathThu, 30 Mar 2017 08:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew Fox News polls: create jobs, destroy ISIS & cut taxes • Making Money HeathThu, 30 Mar 2017 08:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDo Conservatives Really Want Universal Health Coverage?<p> Last week, Republicans failed to pass a major health reform bill out of the House. The bill, according to a disputed estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, would have caused millions of Americans to lose health coverage.</p> <p> But President Trump, as recently as January, vowed &quot;insurance for everybody,&quot; suggesting this is one of his goals. Other Republicans like Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., seem to share this view; he bemoaned this loss of coverage and opposed the bill.</p> <p> <cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt></p> <p> Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, on the other hand, has said that &quot;universal access to care&quot; is one of his main goals in health reform, saying nothing about &quot;universal coverage.&quot; Other Republicans responded to the CBO&#39;s score of the House GOP bill by similarly pointing out that it&#39;s access to care, not coverage, that matters more.</p> <p> These conflicting signals might leave some Americans scratching their heads. Do Republicans want all Americans to have health insurance coverage? Or not?</p> <p> Conservatives recognize that bad things &mdash; a major accident or illness &mdash; could happen to anyone, and a catastrophic hospital bill could imperil many Americans&#39; financial security. Therefore, the wise and prudent thing to do is carry a health insurance policy.</p> <p> Yet conservatives also recognize that, given the choice, some people will always choose not to buy insurance.</p> <p> This means universal coverage &mdash; which implies every single person &mdash; can&#39;t be achieved without coercion. Some people make a personal cost-benefit analysis and decide they would rather spend their dollars on other things besides health insurance premiums from month to month, even if this means they imprudently go without financial protection against a health catastrophe.</p> <p> It&#39;s a free country, right?</p> <p> Even in the face of Obamacare&#39;s mandate, some choose to pay a fine instead of getting insured. In fact, even with all of Obamacare&#39;s mandates and subsidies and fines designed to force people to get covered,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">6.5 million people</a>&nbsp;paid a penalty for going uninsured last year, and a total&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">29 million</a>&nbsp;still lack health insurance today.</p> <p> <cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt></p> <p> A more accurate term for what limited-government conservatives want would be &quot;optimal coverage,&quot; but that certainly doesn&#39;t sound as appealing as &quot;universal.&quot; Some conservatives may still use the term, perhaps with the caveat that they mean &quot;every single willing person.&quot;</p> <p> The problem with the word &quot;coverage&quot; is that it means different things to different people.</p> <p> Here&#39;s an analogy: While&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">82 percent</a>&nbsp;of Americans believe in equality of the sexes, only 20 percent call themselves &quot;feminists.&quot; Like the term &quot;feminist,&quot; the term &quot;coverage&quot; often needs defining.</p> <p> Democrats would seemingly have everyone believe that health coverage must always be comprehensive, and that if people have to pay out of pocket for even routine, affordable health services, that coverage isn&#39;t good enough (&quot;Junk plans!&quot;).</p> <p> <cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt></p> <p> That&#39;s why at the state and federal level, they&#39;ve pushed mandates that require insurers to cover more and more benefits, even if it would be simpler, more transparent, and ultimately more affordable for us to pay for those services directly.</p> <p> Insurance coverage, however, shouldn&#39;t really work this way. Restoring insurance to its proper use (only for unexpected expenses) would lower premiums and make it so that more people could afford to become truly &quot;covered.&quot;</p> <p> After all, there&#39;s more than one way to measure the quality of an insurance plan. One way is to look at the list of services covered. This seems to be Democrats&#39; favored way, but they often ignore that not all Americans want the same list of services or the same comprehensive coverage.</p> <p> The other way to measure insurance plans, perhaps even more important, is to look at the access that patients have or don&#39;t have to providers, the hospitals and professionals who actually deliver healthcare. This metric is at the heart of disagreements about the value of Obamacare plans and Medicaid, which, as conservatives point out, aren&#39;t accepted by as many providers as other private plans.</p> <p> The bottom line is that those who believe in maximum freedom and limited-government in healthcare want all Americans to have the opportunity to buy a true insurance plan, and we want Americans to be able to actually depend on those plans when the rubber of the ambulance tires hit the road.</p> <p> This may not be as a politically popular a slogan as supporting universal coverage&hellip; But it&#39;s better.</p> <p> <cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt><cnt></cnt></p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning (<a href="" target="_blank">@HadleyHeath</a>) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner&#39;s Beltway Confidential blog. She is a senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women&#39;s Forum, and a Tony Blankley Fellow at the Steamboat Institute.</em></p> HeathWed, 29 Mar 2017 07:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum