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 in 60 Seconds: Warren Reveals in Less Than a Minute Her Plan To Fundamentally Transform America<p> Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren reportedly stole the show at the Center for American Progress&rsquo; annual Ideas Conference in Washington on Tuesday as she laid out an aggressive liberal agenda and attacked President Donald Trump for undermining American democracy.</p> <p> <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">The Hill</a>&nbsp;reported that this year&rsquo;s CAP conference was an occasion for 2020 presidential contenders to demonstrate why they should be the next Democrat nominee for president.</p> <p> In addition to Warren, other featured speakers included Sens. Bernie Sander of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, as well as New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, former Obama Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro and Rep. Joseph Kennedy III of Massachusetts.</p> <p> &ldquo;Here we are at the CAP Ideas Conference proving once again that Democrats are the party of ideas. Lots of ideas. That&rsquo;s what we&rsquo;re proving all day long,&rdquo; Warren proclaimed in the coveted closing speaker&rsquo;s slot, having been immediately preceded by Kennedy.</p> <p> &ldquo;We have to promise real structural change, and we have to deliver on that promise the minute we get the chance,&rdquo; Warren said.</p> <p> The senator listed the ideas that had been touched on by the speakers throughout the day, rattling them off in less than a minute.</p> <p> &ldquo;Medicare for all, universal child care, debt-free college, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, gun reform, invest in clean energy, expand Social Security, rebuild our infrastructure, break up the banks, bring back the unions, guarantee everybody who wants to work a job that pays a living wage,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Dozens and dozens of truly great ideas.&rdquo;</p> <p> Warren went on to lament that none of those ideas will get implemented unless people face the reality that democracy in America is in crisis due in part to Trump.</p> <p> The senator pointed to Trump not prevailing in the popular vote, yet still winning the presidency.</p> <p> &ldquo;Democracy hangs on the idea that whoever gets the most votes wins,&rdquo; Warren said.</p> <p> Trump won the Electoral College Vote&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">304 to 227.</a>&nbsp;The Founding Fathers created the mechanism in the Constitution to ensure states would have a voice in choosing the president and in doing so directly rejected the straight popular vote as the final measure. There have been five times when the winner of the Electoral College did not win the popular vote.</p> <p> The margin of Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s popular vote victory is entirely accounted for by the results in California, which she carried by nearly 3.5 million votes. Trump did not campaign in the state during the general election.</p> <p> Warren went on to argue since taking office, Trump has flouted the nation&rsquo;s norms and traditions.</p> <p> &ldquo;The president lies for sport and gets away with it,&rdquo; Warren said.</p> <p> She then turned her attention to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, labeling them enablers of Trump for the sake of passing the Republican agenda.</p> <p> &ldquo;They are willing to aid and abet the destruction of our democratic process to get their way,&rdquo; Warren charged.</p> <p> &ldquo;Their agenda does not reflect the will of the people,&rdquo; she added. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s designed to help only a handful of billionaires and big corporations. Everyone else gets left in the dirt.&rdquo;</p> <p> She further argued that Democrats need to push for more liberalized voting rules in the country and oppose &ldquo;racist voter ID laws.&rdquo;</p> <p> Warren&rsquo;s contention that the Republican agenda does not reflect the will of the people is contradicted by the record number of seats currently held by the GOP throughout the country.</p> <p> Following the 2016 election, not only did Republicans retain majorities in the Senate and the House, they controlled 68 of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers and more seats &mdash; over 4,100 &mdash; than they have held since 1920,&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">CNS News</a>&nbsp;reported.</p> <p> Additionally, Republicans&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">currently control 33</a>&nbsp;of the nation&rsquo;s governorships.</p> <p> Further, though Warren railed against the Republican tax law,&nbsp;the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">majority</a>&nbsp;of Americans support it.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning, director of policy with the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, responded to Warren&rsquo;s liberal agenda, telling The Western Journal, &ldquo;Progressives often brag about being the party of ideas, but the truth is that it&rsquo;s easy to propose government-centric &lsquo;solutions&rsquo; to every problem we face as a society.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">She continued, &ldquo;And even though they are well-intended, they often come with unintended consequences that reduce our freedoms, create unsustainable costs, and most importantly, harm the very people they are meant to help.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> HeathThu, 17 May 2018 11:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump tackles soaring prescription drug prices<p> The Trump administration has just rolled out an ambitious regulatory framework for combating high prescription drug prices, called&nbsp;<a href=";wpmm=1" target="_blank"><u>American Patients First</u></a>.</p> <p> This plan identifies four key problem areas for drug costs today: high list prices for drugs, a lack of negotiation tools in government programs, increasing out-of-pocket costs, and foreign governments free-riding on American innovation. And in response, the administration lays out four solutions or goals: increased competition, better negotiation tools for government programs, incentives for lower list prices, and reduced out-of-pocket costs.</p> <p> While this new plan is the most comprehensive effort any administration has made in this issue area, and while it&rsquo;s attractive to hone in on just a few key areas, it&rsquo;s worth remembering that drug policy, like the rest of our health policy, is very complicated. Lowering prescription drug costs is not going to be straightforward or easy (it&rsquo;s not just a four-item checklist). But this is a helpful framework, and we should applaud the administration&rsquo;s efforts and focus on the issue.</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s look at the problem areas one at a time:</p> <p> High list prices for drugs&nbsp;&ndash; The drivers of cost are quite complex. There are incredible costs associated with drug research and development, as high as&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><u>$2.87 billion per drug</u></a>, and it is exceedingly difficult for researched drugs to make it to market. Only about&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><u>1 in 5,000-10,000</u></a>ultimately do.</p> <p> Truth be told, Americans pay a high price to live in the land of innovation; there&#39;s a trade-off between innovation and costs. Naturally, and rightfully, new innovations are protected by intellectual property rights, meaning drugmakers enjoy patents and other periods of exclusivity to market new drugs (in hopes of recouping their R&amp;D investment) before competitors enter the market. At this point, we typically see huge drop-offs in drug prices.</p> <div> <div data-bsp-plugin="Module33642" data-google-query-id="CMPG-cSaitsCFca_wAodfZwPJA" data-slot-name="/4026082/washington_examiner/undertone_seethrough" data-slot-sizes="[[2,2]]" id="googleAd_inline_1" style="margin-left:auto;"> <div id="google_ads_iframe_/4026082/washington_examiner/undertone_seethrough_0__container__"> <div style="clear:both;"> The solution here &ndash; fostering greater generic competition where appropriate (where patents and other IP protections have run out) &ndash; is something that has already been a focus of the Trump administration, especially for the FDA under the leadership of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><u>Scott Gottlieb</u></a>. This is the right policy, and any steps that federal agencies can take to improve competitiveness are steps in the right direction.</div> </div> </div> </div> <p> Lack of negotiation in government programs&nbsp;&ndash; This one could get sticky. The term &ldquo;government programs&rdquo; is used here as shorthand for Medicare and Medicaid, two of the biggest payers in our health sector. It would be hard to overstate their power. Medicare pays for the lion&rsquo;s share of health costs for&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><u>nearly 60 million seniors</u></a>, and seniors consume a disproportionately high share of drugs. And Medicaid insures&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><u>more than 70 million</u></a>&nbsp;low-income Americans. Both programs have complex drug payment policies.</p> <p> There&rsquo;s a&nbsp;<a href="'s-Donut-Hole-Looks-Good-But-Only-on-the-Surface" target="_blank"><u>constant power struggle</u></a>&nbsp;between big government and big drug companies, as well as big health insurance companies who participate in programs like Medicare Part D. This power struggle often leaves the little guy (the patient) out. It&rsquo;s difficult to determine which policies are best. This complex situation is the direct result of government becoming overly involved in healthcare.</p> <p> We should be cautious when it comes to empowering Medicare and Medicaid to &quot;negotiate&quot; drug prices. While it sounds nice to have government programs negotiating on our behalf, we have to recognize that no negotiation with the government is really fair for a private industry. And there can be unintended consequences when the government sets prices too low. For example, drugmakers may not be willing to provide the quantity demanded, resulting in a shortage. Even so, because private companies participate in Medicare Part D, there are serious questions about what negotiation tools should be available, and the administration&rsquo;s plan seeks to address that.</p> <p> Increasing out-of-pocket costs&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;Americans typically don&rsquo;t pay the full cost of their healthcare consumption, whether for services, screenings, or drugs. This is because our health laws (and history and culture) have amped up the role played by third-party payers like insurance companies and government programs. While it&rsquo;s tempting to look at third-party payment as a good thing (&ldquo;I&rsquo;m so glad this procedure is covered!&rdquo;), it&rsquo;s also important to keep in mind that we eventually pay for all services and drugs consumed, even if indirectly, through higher premiums, taxes, or government debt.</p> <p> That said, increasingly unaffordable out-of-pocket costs can create real burdens on Americans. Some even report not adhering to the drug regimes they are prescribed due to costs. Many people have separate deductibles that apply only to drugs. One particular common-sense change that the Trump administration is making is forbidding Part D insurers from gagging pharmacists who may be able to tell Medicare patients that they can save money by paying directly for particular drugs instead of using their insurance. Information is power, and patients deserve to know.</p> <p> Foreign governments free-riding&nbsp;&ndash; Americans likely know that the very same drugs we consume here at home are often available at much lower prices overseas. This is due to foreign price controls, which underlie the unfair disparity between our domestic prices and theirs. When foreign consumers pay less than the market price for drugs, American consumers pay a surcharge.</p> <p> The Trump administration is right to name this as a key part of our problem, but there is little we can do to pressure foreign governments to repeal their pricing schemes. This is a trade policy issue. At least the administration seems to recognize that simply reimporting American drugs at foreign prices won&rsquo;t solve the root of the problem. While we all want more affordable drugs, price controls only reduce prices&nbsp;<em>artificially</em>, and can result in shortages.</p> <p> The bottom line is that the Trump administration is wading into a difficult issue area here. The blueprint,&nbsp;<a href=";wpmm=1" target="_blank"><u>American Patients First,</u></a>&nbsp;has (for the most part) the right focus on private-sector solutions, competition, and reduced market distortions. Americans should be thankful for this focus on such a critical issue, even if it&rsquo;s not going to be easy: Worthwhile endeavors rarely are.</p> HeathTue, 15 May 2018 07:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMotherhood: More Than a Full-Time Job<p> Often taken for granted by the children (and men) in their lives &mdash; at least until those children need something &mdash; mothers deserve our thanks more than just once a year. But with Mother&rsquo;s Day upon us, we noticed various media outlets&nbsp;<a href="">reminding</a>&nbsp;us about a study by the Welch&rsquo;s fruit juice conglomerate that&nbsp;<a href="">came out last summer</a>. It shows just how hard moms work at pleasing the rest of us:</p> <blockquote> <p> The study of 2,000 American mothers with children ages 5 to 12 aimed to discover the useful tools, resources and techniques moms use to keep their lives and their family&rsquo;s lives afloat. Their most astounding finding: the average working mom clocks in a 98-hour work week, with her day typically starting at 6:23 a.m. She doesn&rsquo;t end up finishing her work or family duties until 8:31 p.m., meaning she works 14 hours per day.</p> </blockquote> <p> Is this self-reported study the most scientific of surveys? Probably not. Are husbands and fathers going to argue with the results? Maybe, but in that case we hope the couch is comfortable.</p> <p> Kidding aside, the venerable institution of motherhood has been under assault for decades, as those who chose to stay home and raise their children became &ldquo;old-fashioned&rdquo; outsiders in our modern culture. Paradoxically, the Baby Boom ushered in an era in which working mothers became far more common &mdash; either as part of a two-income family trying to keep up with the Joneses, or as a single mom raising her children without a father but with full responsibility for feeding and clothing them. It may get easier as the children grow up, making a job outside the home&nbsp;<a href="">a piece of cake by comparison</a>, but regardless of whether she also works outside the home, a mother&rsquo;s work is never done.</p> <p> Mothers have also become pawns in the political struggle over the&nbsp;<a href="">so-called</a>&nbsp;wage gap. This oft-cited &ldquo;truth&rdquo; that women earn less than 80 cents for every dollar a man is paid doesn&rsquo;t account for the satisfaction derived during those periods one study euphemistically called &ldquo;a temporary interruption&rdquo; in their careers. Some in the more radical &ldquo;equal pay&rdquo; community call this phenomenon a &ldquo;motherhood penalty.&rdquo;</p> <p> One solution to this is for employers to&nbsp;<a href="">more flexibly account for</a>&nbsp;moms&rsquo; desire for part-time work.</p> <p> But in any case, with regard to this &ldquo;motherhood penalty,&rdquo; writer <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning</span></strong></span></span>, a relatively recent addition to the working-mom sisterhood,&nbsp;<a href="">noted</a>: The term &ldquo;depicts mothers as helpless victims and ignores the tremendous benefits of motherhood that women often choose to embrace in exchange for lower pay.&rdquo; She prefers to think of these intangibles in terms of trade-offs. The time that a mom forgoes in the bubble bath because her daughter needs help with her homework is offset by the sense of pride she eventually feels in raising her to responsible adulthood. And that time spent tending to a son&rsquo;s skinned knee allows her that little bit of bonding time she wouldn&rsquo;t get if it happened at daycare while she was at work. While Mom may be tired after her long hours, it&rsquo;s moments like these that keep her going.</p> <p> As the men in our humble shop consider our wives and mothers, the words of Proverbs 31:28-29 come to mind: &ldquo;Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: &lsquo;Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p> <p> Wishing our moms and yours a Happy Mother&rsquo;s Day!</p> HeathFri, 11 May 2018 18:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumStatement: IWF Commends Pres. Trump for Addressing High Drug Costs<p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px; text-align: center;"> <img alt="" class="CToWUd a6T" height="143" src="" style="cursor: pointer; outline: 0px;" tabindex="0" width="500" /></p> <p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;"> IMMEDIATE RELEASE<br /> May 5, 2018</p> <p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px; text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: 22px;"><strong>Statement: IWF Commends Pres. Trump for Addressing High Drug Costs</strong></span></p> <p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;"> Washington, DC &mdash; Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum Policy Director Hadley Heath Manning today released the following statement in response to President Trump&rsquo;s speech on high prescription drug prices:</p> <p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;"> &ldquo;We commend President Trump and his administration for addressing the critical issue of high drug costs. This issue affects the daily lives of millions of Americans and their loved ones.&nbsp;</p> <p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;"> &ldquo;The President accurately described the complex problem of high drug costs today by noting how our current system lacks transparency, competition and choice. American markets for drugs are distorted due to the disproportionately large role of third-party payers, including government. Foreign governments also take advantage of American innovation and implement misguided regulations that create artificially low foreign prices, which can raise American prices above what is fair.&nbsp;</p> <p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;"> &ldquo;We look forward to seeing the administration address these problems and continue other good policies that strengthen avenues for competition and balance important considerations &mdash; like intellectual property protections &mdash; with drug affordability. We hope the President and other leaders will avoid expanding government&#39;s heavy hand in our healthcare sector, but rather will work to empower patients and consumers with information, affordability and choice.&rdquo;</p> <p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px; text-align: center;"> ###</p> <p style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px; text-align: center;"> <em>Independent Women&#39;s Forum works to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free-markets and personal liberty.</em></p> <table dir="ltr" style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="margin: 0px;"> <p dir="ltr"> <a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1526152559618000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGo48EtBqAq56N1aF9LDL0pjqvkzA" href="" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204);" target="_blank"><img alt="IWF_Stacked.png" class="CToWUd" height="29" src="" width="92" /></a></p> </td> <td style="margin: 0px;"> <p dir="ltr"> Caroline Phelps<br /> Senior Manager, Strategic Communications<br /> <a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1526152559618000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGo48EtBqAq56N1aF9LDL0pjqvkzA" href="" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204);" target="_blank">Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</a><br /> <a href="tel:(703)%20851-7686" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204);" target="_blank" value="+17038517686">703-851-7686</a><br /> <a href="" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204);" target="_blank"></a></p> <div> &nbsp;</div> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathFri, 11 May 2018 14:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAmerican's Have Reason to Celebrate With a Successful Economy • Making Money with Charles Payne HeathThu, 10 May 2018 19:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumExploring ObamaCare escape hatches<p> &quot;To a certain extent, yes, regulatory change can offer consumers relief,&quot; says <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning of the&nbsp;</span></span><a href="" target="_blank"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">(IWF)</span></span></strong></span>. &quot;The Affordable Care Act limits what states can do in terms of changing some of their regulations, but we&#39;re already starting to see some states try to skirt those rules.&quot;</p> <p> Manning points to Iowa as on example.</p> <p> &quot;By using the term &#39;health benefit plans,&#39; the farmers bureau has avoided some of the insurance regulations because they&#39;re simply not referring to that plan as an insurance plan,&quot; she explains. &quot;They&#39;re calling it a benefit plan.&quot;</p> <p> Meanwhile, Manning says the Trump administration is exploring several escape hatches, trying to offer consumers a new set of options that might be appealing to them.</p> <p> &quot;Short-term limited duration plans are one avenue that they&#39;re pursuing,&quot; she continues. &quot;They&#39;re also trying to roll back some of the regulations insofar as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a say over what every insurance plan has to cover. But again, much of this will hinge on what Congress can do, because, of course, there&#39;s only so much change that can happen through the regulatory process. And I do believe the Trump administration deserves credit for exploring multiple avenues to essentially reintroduce some insurance products to the market that disappeared under the ACA and give consumers more choice. Of course we know that greater choices fuel market competition, and that&#39;s the best way to pull down prices.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p> Speaking&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">last week</a>&nbsp;to the World Health Care Congress, former HHS Secretary and Congressman Tom Price (R-Georgia) said lawmakers are not likely to address ObamaCare until after the November elections. Price went on to say that he thinks changes to regulations in the healthcare law are more likely to happen in the near-term.</p> HeathMon, 7 May 2018 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum#126 Why a New Iowa Healthcare Law Matters to You<p> Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa took advantage of a healthcare loop hole by creating &quot;Health Benefit Plans&quot;. In partnership with the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowans now have more consumer freedom in the healthcare market. These new options allow people to get the coverage they need, and ditch the extra, mandated, coverage</p> HeathFri, 4 May 2018 16:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Untold Story of Government's Role in the Opioid Epidemic<p> Now that the federal government is cracking down on the prescription of opioid painkillers, Americans are rightfully concerned that some patients with legitimate needs for these drugs&nbsp;<a href=""><u>may be left to suffer</u></a><u>.</u>&nbsp;Government policy, even with the best intentions, can overlook the complexities of individual circumstances in favor of blanket rules to address problems in public health.</p> <p> This is not just the case with government&rsquo;s response to the American opioid abuse epidemic; it was also the case with the bad government policies that contributed to creating and worsening the crisis in previous years. This history should make us wary of government&rsquo;s increasingly heavy hand in health care.</p> <p> Of course, multiple complex factors contributed to the widespread challenges with addiction and overdose that our nation now seeks to address. No one actor or trend is completely to blame. But it&rsquo;s important for Americans to understand that the initial over-prescription of opioid drugs was no accident.</p> <p> For one thing, the Veterans Health Administration was&nbsp;<a href=""><u>one of the earliest adopters</u></a>of a pain management strategy called &ldquo;Pain as the Fifth Vital Sign,&rdquo; originally advocated by the American Pain Society.</p> <p> The intention was good &mdash; to ensure that patients don&rsquo;t suffer unnecessarily. But there&rsquo;s now&nbsp;<a href=""><u>widespread agreement</u></a>&nbsp;that pain should never have been treated as a vital sign and that, sadly, this assessment and treatment protocol contributed to the over-prescription of opioid painkillers.</p> <p> Doctors outside of the VHA system faced pressure from the government as well: The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services included questions about pain management in patient satisfaction surveys that were linked to payment,&nbsp;<a href=""><u>encouraging a standard of patient-pleasing</u></a>&nbsp;over good medicine. This &mdash; along with the example set by VHA policy &mdash; fostered a culture that encouraged health-care providers to offer pain-relieving prescriptions, popular with patients, without adequate regard for the potential long-term consequences. Fortunately, these survey questions&nbsp;<a href=""><u>have been removed</u></a>.</p> <p> It wasn&rsquo;t just pain management surveys in Medicare and Medicaid; the&nbsp;<a href=""><u>Joint Commission</u></a>&nbsp;(JC) that pushed more providers to over-prescribe also played a role. The JC has a unique statutory mandate to accredit hospitals to treat (and be reimbursed for) Medicare patients. Most states also rely on JC accreditation as a prerequisite for Medicaid reimbursement as well. These are by far the biggest payers in American health care. If the JC says jump, hospitals ask, &ldquo;How high?&rdquo;</p> <p> Since 2001, the JC has issued pain management and treatment standards. As late as 2016, health providers and advocates were&nbsp;<a href=""><u>still petitioning the JC</u></a>, saying that its standards &ldquo;encourage unnecessary, unhelpful, and unsafe pain treatments that interfere with primary disease management.&rdquo; In January 2018, the JC finally issued&nbsp;<a href=""><u>new guidance</u></a>&nbsp;that would attempt to address these concerns.</p> <p> As a final example, take the Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA sets quotas every year for all Schedule I and II drugs and&nbsp;<a href=""><u>consistently raised opioid quotas</u></a>&nbsp;even when prescriptions were at an all-time high. The regulatory agency cannot pretend to have been left in the dark about the opioid crisis.&nbsp;</p> <p> Each of these examples of well-intentioned &mdash; but ultimately bad &mdash; policies should give us pause when we consider other proposed changes to our health-care laws.</p> <p> There are patients with legitimate needs for opioid painkillers, including many who suffer from chronic pain and other conditions for whom painkillers are a necessary part of treatment. These patients are now worried that by focusing on the population at large rather than individual needs, Uncle Sam&nbsp;<a href=";page=1&amp;pos=1"><u>will go too far in restricting access</u></a>&nbsp;to the drugs they need.</p> <p> We should have had the same concern about over-standardization when government policy was fanning the flames of the opioid epidemic. When veteran&rsquo;s health programs, other government insurance plans, and accreditation boards have outsized power and influence, their bad decisions can wreak havoc. Instead, we should protect the freedom of individual actors: patients and doctors who make clinical decisions and private insurance providers who compete and offer support for a variety of approaches.</p> <p> Our public health crisis in opioid addiction is, in part, the sad result of government policies with good intentions but harmful consequences. This should be a powerful warning against enabling government to make sweeping decisions about our health going forward.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> HeathThu, 3 May 2018 07:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAmerican People are Feeling "Exhausted" with Russia Investigation • Coast to Coast HeathWed, 2 May 2018 20:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum#125 The Pressing Issues in Healthcare: preview our conversation with Katy Talento<p> Listen to our preview of the Women Lead Summit! IWF will be hosting a conversation with Grace-Marie Turner from the Galen Institute and Katy Talento with the Trump administration. In this podcast we discuss prescription drug prices, the opioid epidemic, and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).</p> HeathMon, 30 Apr 2018 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPaid Family Leave • Bold TV HeathThu, 26 Apr 2018 19:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMotherhood is not a 'penalty'<p> A new study about women&rsquo;s finances from&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Merrill Lynch/Bank of America and Age Wave</a>&nbsp;will no doubt turn into unhelpful fodder in the broader discussion about the gender wage gap and wealth gap between the genders that is the result.</p> <p> While most of the study is about the need to understand women better as financial consumers and investors &mdash; certainly a business priority for financial institutions &mdash; one section drives home the point that when women have a &ldquo;temporary interruption&rdquo; in their careers, they suffer a permanent setback in terms of earnings and wealth accumulation.</p> <p> This may be true, but activists should not seize on this point as evidence of an oppressive society or unhappy women. To the contrary, we all know what &ldquo;temporary interruption&rdquo; means, at least in the vast majority of cases: children. And children can bring great joy.</p> <p> Motherhood has for too long been the elephant in the room when the issue of the pay equality comes up. But recently, for better or worse, advocates for equal pay<em>&nbsp;are</em>focusing on motherhood, often using the term &ldquo;motherhood penalty.&rdquo;</p> <p> Perhaps the term is better and more intellectually honest than the blunt &ldquo;wage gap,&rdquo; because it acknowledges that sex-based wage discrimination isn&rsquo;t primarily responsible for the wage gap. Differences between men and women&#39;s lives &mdash; the roles they take on in the working world and in families &mdash; are the real root of differences in earnings.</p> <p> But &ldquo;Motherhood Penalty&rdquo; is worse in another sense: It depicts mothers as helpless victims and ignores the tremendous benefits of motherhood that women often choose to embrace in exchange for lower pay.</p> <p> Like many women, I am living this reality: In 2014, I was a single, childless woman. Today, I am married, have a toddler, and a new baby on the way. I know firsthand the challenge of balancing my responsibilities at work and at home, especially as my husband has been completing a medical residency &mdash; a demanding pursuit.</p> <p> As I&rsquo;ve walked my path, I&rsquo;ve walked with other women who today have more time to dedicate to their jobs, but who may never know the joy of having children. Motherhood likely doesn&rsquo;t seem like much of a &ldquo;penalty&rdquo; to many of them who wish to have children, but rather, an amazing and enviable blessing.</p> <p> Ultimately, a more neutral term than either &ldquo;penalty&rdquo; or &ldquo;blessing&rdquo; would be &ldquo;trade-off.&rdquo; I don&rsquo;t get to go to happy hour as often or attend the work conference in another city. I could do those things, but I choose not to in favor of bedtime snuggles instead. I may pay a price in terms of career enhancement, but for me, it&#39;s worth it. Other working moms make a variety of choices that differ from mine; each of us is simply doing what we think is best for our families and ourselves.</p> <p> Here&rsquo;s another consideration: While I&rsquo;ve been &ldquo;leaning out&rdquo; at work recently, my husband has been making his own trade-offs: He&rsquo;s had less than his share of bedtime snuggles, certainly. He&rsquo;s worked very, very hard. And we both now get to enjoy the fruits of our shared labor, as he finishes residency and begins working in a well-paid hospitalist job this fall.</p> <p> My story isn&rsquo;t just anecdote: Among all demographic groups, who makes the most money? Married fathers. This isn&#39;t because society values them more, but because they often make sacrifices to try to earn more to support their families. And who shares household earnings and the associated wealth accumulation with married fathers? Married mothers, of course. The term &ldquo;motherhood penalty&rdquo; fails to capture this. Married motherhood comes with great benefits, both financial and non-financial.</p> <p> The reality is that mothers are paid less than non-mothers (and accumulate less wealth as a result) not because employers or &ldquo;society&rdquo; penalize us, but because, on aggregate, mothers make trade-offs that result in less money. This leaves us &ldquo;worse off&rdquo; &mdash; but only in the eyes of those who value monetary earnings above other things, like spending time with children, volunteering, or other unpaid pursuits.</p> <p> For financial institutions like Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, it makes perfect sense to frame things this way, with the focus on money. But the real takeaway from their new study should not be that women are victims, but rather (as the premise of the study recognizes) that women and men, as individuals and as groups, make different choices.</p> <p> No matter how we slice the data &mdash; with a focus on parents or non-parents, wages or wealth &mdash; the result will always be disparities that reflect those choices. We should all work to maximize opportunity and ensure fairness, but we can do so while appreciating that what one person may call a &ldquo;penalty,&rdquo; another may call &ldquo;the pursuit of happiness.&rdquo;</p> HeathTue, 24 Apr 2018 11:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumUS liberals won't recognize Finland's pro-work welfare reform<p> The Nordic region is often misunderstood from the outside: The most common confusion among Americans is that these nations are &ldquo;socialist&rdquo; when they are&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">anything but</a>. They are capitalist, market economies that sometimes even&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">outrank the U.S.</a>&nbsp;in economic freedom. Even so, American liberals like to praise these countries for their generous social welfare programs, arguing the U.S. should follow suit.</p> <p> Those Americans should pay attention now, as Finland gives up on an experiment with universal basic income in favor of an &ldquo;activation model,&rdquo; which is another way of saying welfare with a work requirement. In the midst of our domestic debate about work requirements and other reforms to our safety net, we can learn from Finland&rsquo;s example: Welfare should encourage work, and beneficiaries will respond.</p> <p> Roughly two years ago, the Finnish government&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">adopted a pilot program</a>that gave 2000 people $690 per month, tax-free. This equates to $8,280 per year. The program had no work requirement, or any requirement, for that matter. The government initially planned to expand this program, but is now scrapping it in favor of an 18-hour-per-week work requirement. If beneficiaries don&rsquo;t comply within 3 months, they lose some of their social assistance. This change is in hopes of incentivizing work.</p> <p> The Finnish government recognized that help can sometimes hurt. Work is good for people: It&rsquo;s associated with better health and financial security, and it provides a sense of what president of American Enterprise Institute Arthur Brooks called &ldquo;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">earned success</a>.&rdquo; We should all favor policies that lead to these better outcomes for people. In fact, the impetus behind Finland&rsquo;s basic income experiment was to reduce the effect of other unemployment programs in the country that discouraged work. The country feared that beneficiaries were not taking jobs or raises for fear of losing support as their wages rose.</p> <p> Still, the country has not found the results of their basic income experiment &ndash; as initially designed &ndash; to be satisfactory. Thus the change toward the activation model.</p> <p> The reality is that similar problems exist in the U.S. welfare system, where individuals and families can sometimes face &ldquo;benefit cliffs,&rdquo; or &ldquo;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">poverty traps</a>&rdquo; which mean that if their wages and income rise even a little, they can lose major welfare benefits. &nbsp;(Think of a family earning $100 too much to qualify for Medicaid, for example.) This discourages work and keeps Americans trapped at lower levels of income.</p> <p> Part of the problem in the U.S. is that our safety net is quite messy. At the federal level, there are at least&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">92 anti-poverty programs</a>&nbsp;that are intended to help with housing, energy, health care, food and other necessities. These programs are not all housed within the same federal agency. Some work in conjunction with states. Often, the policies for reducing or eliminating benefits as income rises overlap in unhelpful ways.</p> <p> This messiness has prompted some to suggest a universal basic income, which would essentially trade the various government welfare programs &ndash; and minimum wage regulations &ndash; for a cash benefit that beneficiaries could use as they see fit.</p> <p> Certainly, there&rsquo;s room to improve our social safety net by consolidating programs and making them more efficient. That&rsquo;s why even free-market economists like Milton Friedman have supported the basic income idea (in the form of his &ldquo;Negative Income Tax&rdquo;). Because of his advocacy for such a policy shift, the U.S. actually conducted similar experiments to the Finnish one, but back in the late 1960s.</p> <p> While the debate about the universal basic income continues, the U.S. at least learned then (as the Finnish are learning now) that incentives to&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">work do matter</a>. As Guy Sorman wrote for City Journal, the findings from these experiments ultimately became important to the national policy discussion under former President&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="188333" href="">Bill Clinton</a></span>, who signed welfare work requirements into U.S. law in the 1990s.</p> <p> This is why it&rsquo;s so odd that today&rsquo;s progressives are so opposed to even the possibility of work requirements &ndash; technically &ldquo;community engagement&rdquo; requirements &ndash; that states may impose on programs like&nbsp;<a href=";utm_term=.71f63a51ead7" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Medicaid</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">other anti-poverty programs</a>. It seems there are double standards at work: Clinton gets a pass for recognizing the importance of encouraging work, while Trump is a heartless boogeyman. And of course it&rsquo;s also inconsistent to think that the U.S. shouldn&rsquo;t adopt commonsense policies that other nations &ndash; even those admirable Nordic countries like Finland &ndash; are moving to adopt right away.</p> <p> No matter what direction the U.S. and other nations take with regard to welfare reform, we should keep the focus on the ultimate goal: Welfare should encourage work and self-sufficiency. This isn&rsquo;t just to protect taxpayers, but most importantly, to protect those living on the margin of poverty from falling into it without a clear path out.</p> HeathTue, 24 Apr 2018 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIt’s Time For A Paid Family Leave Option That Works — And This Plan Could Be It<p> For some moms, decisions about when and how much to work while our children are young are among the hardest we will make. For other moms, like those who act as primary or sole breadwinners in about&nbsp;<a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1522942546332000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFfLQuHltnk_NrY5mKaGA-1KGUy-Q" href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">40 percent of American households</a>, those decisions don&rsquo;t feel like a choice at all &ndash; their families depend on their income.</p> <p> The American family and work force has changed rapidly in the last generation: Today about&nbsp;<a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1522942546332000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGbdUDIY_-TdGFZEyippfWvp62dzQ" href="">70 percent of mothers</a>&nbsp;(with children under 18) work, compared to 47 percent in 1975. During this time, there&rsquo;s been a red-hot cultural debate about women&rsquo;s roles, what it means to be a &ldquo;feminist,&rdquo; and what public policies we should put into place to ease some of the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">pressures on working moms</a>.</p> <p> One important public policy debate is about paid family leave. Should our laws do more to guarantee working moms (and dads) time off after the birth of a new baby?&nbsp;&nbsp;This issue is not just political, but personal.</p> <p> I would know; I&rsquo;m expecting my&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">second baby</a>&nbsp;to arrive in just a couple of months.</p> <p> But there&rsquo;s a lot at stake in this complex debate, especially considering how diverse American families have become. I can&rsquo;t presume every family is like mine, or that every mom wants the same kind of maternity leave arrangement I want. To me, being a feminist means supporting other women in their choices, even if they differ from mine.</p> <p> Two commonly discussed solutions for the paid leave dilemma are new entitlements and new mandates on employers. But stay-at-home parents and childless workers don&rsquo;t need paid family leave, so it wouldn&rsquo;t be fair to ask them to fund a government program to pay workers during this time off. Mandates on employers come with costs, too, ultimately making it less likely employers will hire and promote women of child-bearing age.</p> <p> Clearly, we need a paid leave policy that treats all families and workers fairly, and minimizes the unintended consequences that backfire on women in the workplace.</p> <p> Finally, there&rsquo;s a plan that does just that.</p> <p> Several Members of Congress are championing a new paid family leave proposal originally&nbsp;<a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1522942546332000&amp;usg=AFQjCNE9moTclRDlFSJHb89LW6yGk5aoYw" href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">advanced by Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</a>&nbsp;that would increase access to paid parental leave for those who need it most, but without penalizing those families that choose not to have children, or families with children who keep a parent at home, or those who have access to paid leave benefits already.</p> <p> Instead of raising taxes on all workers, this plan would reform the existing Social Security program to offer working parents a choice to take &ldquo;parental benefits&rdquo; early (after the addition of a new child) in exchange for delaying retirement benefits later. Parental benefits would be calculated according to the disability formula, meaning lower-income families would see a greater portion of their pay replaced during a family leave period.</p> <p> The beauty of this plan is that the choice lies with the individual worker. It&rsquo;s completely voluntary. Workers who do not opt in would see no changes to their compensation, benefits, or Social Security.&nbsp;&nbsp;What better way to honor the variety of choices that women (and men) make about work and family life?</p> <p> As the American workforce continues to evolve (with more workers seeking greater flexibility in the gig economy and non-traditional jobs) and our family structures continue to become more diverse, we should focus on policies that give all workers the greatest freedom and choice. Our plan does this with respect for the myriad different ways modern American women choose to direct their own lives. That&rsquo;s worth celebrating.</p> HeathMon, 23 Apr 2018 11:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIWF: ObamaCare still unpopular, underachieving<p> While acknowledging that enrollment is down from a 2016 peak of 12.7 million, the Washington Post editorial board&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">says</a>11.8 million people did sign up for coverage in 2018. Those signups came despite slashed funding for advertising and an open-enrollment period that was shorted by half.</p> <p> &quot;HHS played up a rise in premiums relative to last year&#39;s, but most people on the ObamaCare exchanges receive federal subsidies, keeping their costs steady,&quot; the op-ed continues. &quot;The average subsidized premium is only $89 per month.&quot;</p> <p> Despite those positive implications, <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning of the&nbsp;</span></span><a href="" target="_blank"><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;">&nbsp;doesn&#39;t think Americans are sticking by ObamaCare.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Some people have left the so-called Affordable Care Act exchanges and they&#39;ve gone to find healthcare-sharing ministries, or they&#39;ve gone to find direct primary care practices where they can pay directly for the healthcare they consume,&quot; the IWF director of policy explains. &quot;And really, the enrollment figures under the Affordable Care Act have never lived up to the initial expectations &ndash; so I don&#39;t think it&#39;s a fair assertion to say that Americans are excited about it.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> As for the $89 a month plans, Manning says the chances of finding a doctor who will accept them are slim.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;We know the ACA plans don&#39;t come with as robust network coverage; [that is], they aren&#39;t as accepted by as many providers,&quot; she says. &quot;And I would say the majority of people who have new insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act were actually enrolled through Medicaid rather than through one of the private plans at $89 a month.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Regardless, Manning points out that people were told to enroll or face a tax penalty for going without health coverage of some sort</span></strong></span></span>.</p> <p> The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law by President Trump did zero out the tax penalty. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services is open to allowing cheaper, skimpy plans that do not include all of the things required in the Affordable Care Act. The objective, says HHS, is to (1) bring down costs for people making too much money to receive subsidies, and (2) aid those who don&#39;t want to buy something they won&#39;t need.</p> HeathWed, 18 Apr 2018 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum