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 RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Putting American Workers First: Market Optimism • Coast to Coasthttp://iwf.org/media/2805880/Hadley HeathMon, 19 Feb 2018 19:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHealth Care Escape Hatches Proliferate Under Bad Law<p> Americans are still trying to escape the Affordable Care Act, but now that President Trump and Congress have failed to repeal it (as they promised&hellip;) the escape hatches are looking more&hellip; creative. More Americans &ndash; doctors, patients, businesses and states &ndash; are taking it upon themselves to find a way out of the ACA&rsquo;s draconian grip.</p> <p> All of these actions of course undermine the ACA system, but they aren&rsquo;t sufficient. Instead, they are all signs that continually point to Americans&rsquo; dissatisfaction with the status quo and the need to once again revisit the issue via legislative reform. In the meantime, let&rsquo;s look at some of the ways Americans are escaping the ACA:</p> <p> <strong>Escape Hatch #1 &ndash; Innovative Payment Models </strong></p> <p> The ACA is an insurance-based system. The goal of the law was to expand insurance coverage via Medicaid and the law&rsquo;s exchanges as the primary method of financing healthcare services. But instead of using ACA-regulated insurance, some doctors and patients are <a href="http://fullmeasure.news/news/full-episodes/full-measure-february-11-2018">adopting new models</a> that allow for more transparency and more freedom. One such model is direct primary care. Another is a &ldquo;health share.&rdquo; Neither of these is the traditional insurance model. And both are much more affordable.</p> <p> <strong>Escape Hatch #2 &ndash; States Leading the Way </strong></p> <p> The Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Idaho have recently <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/blowing-off-obamacare-idaho-shows-how/article/2649294">signed an executive order</a> that will allow insurers to offer non-ACA-compliant plans in the state&rsquo;s exchange. One insurance company has just submitted some plans to the state department of insurance for approval. This could bring broader choices and affordability and demonstrate to the rest of the states in the nation that the federal government&rsquo;s regulations are counterproductive.</p> <p> <strong>Escape Hatch #3 &ndash; Employer/Tech/Industry-led revolution</strong></p> <p> The employer-centric nature of the U.S. health insurance market is really an accident of history, but a few employers &ndash; Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan &ndash; <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/30/amazon-berkshire-hathaway-and-jpmorgan-chase-to-partner-on-us-employee-health-care.html">recently announced</a> a new experiment aimed to disrupt the current health system. The industry giants aim to use technology, innovation scale to develop a new model for the payment, delivery, and customization of health services. But so far, very little is known about how they aim to do it.</p> <p> All of the above point to a health workforce, a patient population, and an economy that are suffering the consequences of an ill-fitting top-down system under the ACA. It&rsquo;s sad that it has to be this way, but encouraging to see disrupters and problem-solvers continue to apply their best thoughts and efforts to making health care affordable and accessible.</p> <p> Necessity is truly the mother of invention, and the ACA has made it necessary for folks to invent new ways to get out.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2805867/Hadley HeathMon, 19 Feb 2018 16:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIWF: Don't let government 'help' rising health care costs<p> The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) projects health care spending will rise an average of 5.5 percent annually or one percentage point faster than economic growth, thereby squeezing public insurance programs and private employers who provide coverage.</p> <p> HHS cites an aging population as one driver, along with an increase in health care services and prescription drugs.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;We&#39;ve really done nothing to try to contain the cost of health care,&quot; responds Hadley Heath Manning, director of policy at&nbsp;</span></span><a href="http://www.iwf.org/" 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;(IWF).</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> She recalls that the Affordable Care Act was supposedly aimed at reducing health care costs but it did so depending on the health insurance market.</p> <p> &quot;So there are a lot of subsidies in the ACA for health insurance, and there is a Medicaid expansion,&quot; she observes, &quot;but those policy provisions don&#39;t really touch on the actual health care services that people consume and don&#39;t put the right incentives into place to hold prices down.&quot;<br /> <br /> When it comes to prescription drugs, liberals and conservatives agree something needs to be done about the cost but are divided on how to solve the problem.</p> <p> Liberals, for example, want price controls.</p> <p> &quot;The cost of drugs is not something we&#39;re going to solve via price controls,&quot; responds Manning. &quot;Other countries have tried that and instead the result is usually drug shortages and more difficult access to the drugs that people need - a slow-down in innovation. And those foreign price controls actually come back to haunt American customers because we end up paying more because of foreign price controls.&quot;</p> <p> Pointing to the HHS report, Manning says there are very steep increases in the cost of prescription drugs due to the fact that the cost of bringing those drugs to market has increased over past years.</p> <p> &quot;The cost of research and development (R&amp;D) is so high,&quot; she says, &quot;because the cost of FDA trials is so high, and because drugs go through a period where they are patented and there is market exclusivity for the creators of new drugs where there is no market competition.&quot;</p> <p> That allows the initial investors to recoup their up-front costs for research and development, she observes, but those drug prices drop when the patent expires.</p> <p> &quot;So some of this is just inherent to our system that protects intellectual property,&quot; Manning says. &quot; But there is also other things that we can do to make it easier to fast-track the development and testing of new drugs that come to market, because these are obviously innovations we want to see.&quot;</p> http://iwf.org/media/2805864/Hadley HeathFri, 16 Feb 2018 17:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAmerican Workers Should Expect Largest Pay Increase in Years<p> A survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found U.S. consumers expect to see the fastest wage growth in years.</p> <p> Consumers polled in January anticipated enjoying an average earnings rise of 2.73 percent, which is the largest monthly increase since the Fed starting collecting the data in 2013, according to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-12/americans-expect-biggest-pay-raises-in-years-fed-survey-says" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a>.</p> <p> &ldquo;The data jibe with a Feb. 2 Labor Department report which showed that U.S. average hourly earnings rose 2.9 percent from a year earlier in January, marking the fastest pace of the expansion,&rdquo; the news outlet explained.</p> <div> <p> Wages have been the last measure to see improvement since the end of the Great Recession,&nbsp;<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/02/news/economy/january-jobs-report-2018/index.html" rel="noopener" target="_blank">CNN Money</a>reported.</p> <p> The Federal Reserve poll also found 39 percent of consumers felt their personal finances were better than a year ago, and 46 percent believe they will be better in a year than they are now. Both statistics represent a high mark since the Fed began gathering the information.</p> <p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s too early to call this a trend but the breakout (in wage growth) is very welcome news,&rdquo; said Robert Frick, chief economist at Navy Federal. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very big deal, let&rsquo;s hope it continues.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;There is no question that employers are now having to be more aggressive to compete for workers,&rdquo; added Peter Harrison, CEO of Snagajob, a jobs platform focused on hourly work.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning, policy director for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, told The Western Journal that rising wages are having a real impact on American families.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;These pay increases are long overdue after years of stagnant wage growth,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s easy to focus on economic indicators at the national level, but around the kitchen table these raises mean real changes for American families: new clothes or school supplies, a household repair, a vacation or additional savings for education or retirement.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s no secret why wages are finally rising: Tax cuts and deregulation are allowing businesses to share greater success with their workers,&rdquo; Manning added.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that over 4 million Americans have received bonuses and/or pay raises as a result of the tax reform bill passed in December.</p> <div> <div data-scribe="component:author" style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span data-scribe="element:name" title="Donald J. Trump"><a aria-label="Donald J. Trump (screen name: realDonaldTrump)" data-scribe="element:user_link" href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump">Donald J. Trump</a>&nbsp;</span><a aria-label="Donald J. Trump (screen name: realDonaldTrump)" data-scribe="element:user_link" href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump"><span data-scribe="element:screen_name" dir="ltr" title="@realDonaldTrump">@realDonaldTrump</span></a></div> </div> <div data-scribe="component:tweet"> <div style="margin-left: 40px;"> &nbsp;</div> <div style="margin-left: 40px;"> 4.2 million hard working Americans have already received a large Bonus and/or Pay Increase because of our recently Passed Tax Cut &amp; Jobs Bill....and it will only get better! We are far ahead of schedule.</div> </div> <p> House Speaker Paul Ryan also touted the impact of new tax law on Wednesday, saying it is responsible for helping create a very pro-business growth and pro-worker climate.</p> <p> &ldquo;In less than eight weeks, we have tracked nearly 350 companies that have handed out bonuses as a result of tax reform,&rdquo; he&nbsp;<a href="https://www.speaker.gov/general/tax-cuts-triumph-speaker-ryan-s-opening-remarks-leadership-presser" rel="noopener" target="_blank">told</a>&nbsp;reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday. &ldquo;Every day we hear more about this, and we know that there are plenty of other small businesses who are doing the same, that are doing it under the radar.&rdquo;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span data-scribe="element:name" title="Paul Ryan"><a aria-label="Paul Ryan (screen name: SpeakerRyan)" data-scribe="element:user_link" href="https://twitter.com/SpeakerRyan">Paul Ryan</a></span><a aria-label="Paul Ryan (screen name: SpeakerRyan)" data-scribe="element:user_link" href="https://twitter.com/SpeakerRyan"><span data-scribe="element:screen_name" dir="ltr" title="@SpeakerRyan">@SpeakerRyan</span></a></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span data-scribe="element:screen_name" dir="ltr" title="@SpeakerRyan">Bonuses. Long-overdue raises. Better benefits. More take-home pay. This is just the beginning of how </span>#TaxReform is already working to improve the lives of hardworking Americans.</p> <p> The speaker said by the end of the month, 90 percent of American workers will see higher take-home pay as a result of tax reform.</p> <p> &ldquo;This momentum is generating more confidence in our economy,&rdquo; Ryan stated. &ldquo;According to a new survey, a record number of small business owners say that now is a good time to expand.&rdquo;</p> <p> <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-13/u-s-small-business-optimism-jumps-more-see-good-time-to-expand" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a>&nbsp;reported on Tuesday, &ldquo;Six of the 10 components that make up the small-business optimism index increased in January, producing one of the strongest readings in the 45-year history of the survey.&rdquo;</p> <p> National Federation of Independent Business chief economist William Dunkelberg and policy analyst Holly Wade credit the tax law with producing the &ldquo;most recent boost to small-business optimism.&rdquo;</p> </div> <div id="Top-ad"> &nbsp;</div> http://iwf.org/media/2805835/Hadley HeathWed, 14 Feb 2018 12:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy not turn to Social Security for paid family leave?<p> Several pundits noted that, when President Trump mentioned paid family leave at the State of the Union address, Vice President Pence and House Speaker Ryan did not stand or applaud. That&rsquo;s likely because most plans to expand paid leave propose mandates on employers or new entitlements.</p> <p> Republicans generally oppose these policies: They limit workers&rsquo; opportunities, especially women, and add new costs for employers or taxpayers.</p> <p> This has resulted in a stalemate for the politics of paid family leave.</p> <p> But President Trump is an unusual Republican in many ways. Likely due to Ivanka&rsquo;s influence, he&rsquo;s willing to address paid family leave. However, if he (and other Americans) want to break through the political stalemate, we have to find a solution with bipartisan appeal.</p> <p> Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a nonpartisan policy organization (where I work) highlights such a solution in a&nbsp;<a href="http://pdf.iwf.org/budget-neutral_approach_parental_leave_PF18.pdf">recent paper</a>. The proposal is budget-neutral, gender-neutral, and completely voluntary. It requires no new taxes and depends strongly on the principle of personal responsibility. It works within the framework of existing programs and laws. And it would provide (partial) pay replacement for eligible workers for up to 12 weeks after the birth of a new child. Sound intriguing?</p> <p> Here&rsquo;s how: Workers could opt to take Social Security &ldquo;parental benefits,&rdquo; calculated using the disability formula, after the birth of a new child in exchange for one day delaying their Social Security retirement benefits.</p> <p> The proposal would provide partial income replacement, similar to what social programs provide in Canada and the U.K. Due to our progressive disability formula, low-wage U.S. workers could receive as much as 90 percent of their normal pay.</p> <p> Workers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act are already guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid time off from work; this plan would help many families, especially those living paycheck to paycheck, afford to get by during a crazy, stressful, but (we hope) wonderful time in life.</p> <p> Eligible workers would have to have worked for at least four quarters total, including two of the last four quarters preceding a leave, so as to limit parental benefits to only those who&rsquo;ve paid into Social Security, who are in the workforce currently, and who are likely to earn retirement benefits (40 quarters required).</p> <p> Granted, many Americans are rightly concerned about the solvency of Social Security as it is. Broader reforms are needed to address the program&rsquo;s bottom line. Any reform to Social Security should honor the original idea that money paid in belongs to workers. This paid-leave plan, although not intended to save Social Security from its bigger problems, would at least honor this principle of ownership: It would offer workers another way to get some of their hard-earned, payroll-taxed dollars back.</p> <p> Admittedly, there&rsquo;s no perfect paid family policy. But this plan avoids many of the biggest downsides of other proposals. A new entitlement for paid leave, as Democrats have proposed, would increase payroll taxes and could displace current private arrangements for paid leave or flexible work. Paid-leave mandates on employers raise the cost of (read: discourage) hiring workers, especially women of childbearing age.</p> <p> In fact, liberal policies like these in other countries are associated with wider gender wage gaps,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/12/20/the-link-between-parental-leave-and-the-gender-pay-gap/">according to research from Pew</a>.</p> <p> Coloradans are politically diverse, a microcosm of the country in a way. This proposal should appeal to Denver liberals as well as some family-values conservatives in Colorado Springs, because it promotes paid family leave.</p> <p> But it should also appeal to Coloradans &mdash; and all Americans &mdash; of the &ldquo;live and let live&rdquo; variety: No one is asked to bear responsibility for another person&rsquo;s choices or leave.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s the working parent who decides to make a trade-off that affects him or her alone. And the benefits would appeal most to those who currently lack paid family leave.</p> <p> In short, in contrast to other paid leave proposals, this plan could give members of both parties a reason to stand and cheer.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> http://iwf.org/news/2805804/Hadley HeathFri, 9 Feb 2018 14:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolicy Focus: Why Are Pharmaceutical Drugs So Expensive?<p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"> About six in ten Americans say that lowering the cost of prescription drugs should be a priority for the President and Congress. For years, public opinion polls have found that the cost of drugs is Americans&rsquo; number one health concern. Over half (55 percent) of all Americans report taking prescription drugs.</p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"> To identify policies to make drugs more affordable, the public first should understand why drugs are often expensive.</p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"> Many factors contribute to the cost of pharmaceutical drugs: Drug makers invest incredible resources in costly research, development and drug trials. And many of the drugs they research never make it to market. Intellectual property policies (patents and exclusivity periods) rightly limit market competition when a new drug is brought to market so that companies can recoup the costs associated with research and development. Our complex and opaque healthcare payment structure makes it difficult for patients to make informed decisions based on price. And even policies of foreign countries can increase the costs of drugs here within the United States.</p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"> There are two potential paths for America today: We can expand the role of government in setting drug prices, or we can foster greater individual choice and market competition to hold prices down. The former path would inevitably have unintended consequences, like drug shortages and reduced innovation. The latter would make drugs more affordable and accessible, while also encouraging and rewarding innovation. We all want to see ever more advances in drugs that heal sickness, reduce suffering, and prolong life, so it&rsquo;s important we choose the right path.</p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"> <a href="http://pdf.iwf.org/pharmaceutical_drug_costs_PF18.pdf"><img alt="" src="http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb366/IWF11/Policy%20Focus/PF_PDF_zps30jyfghm.png" style="width: 350px; height: 58px;" /></a></p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"> <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/371103304/Policy-Focus-Why-Are-Pharmaceutical-Drugs-So-Expensive#from_embed" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Policy Focus: Why Are Pharmaceutical Drugs So Expensive? on Scribd">Policy Focus: Why Are Pharmaceutical Drugs So Expensive?</a> by <a href="https://www.scribd.com/user/330323807/Independent-Women-s-Forum#from_embed" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Independent Women's Forum's profile on Scribd">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a></p> <p> <iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_13889" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/371103304/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-KdE0xoRMxr7tFoWw7T7T&amp;show_recommendations=true" title="Policy Focus: Why Are Pharmaceutical Drugs So Expensive?" width="100%"></iframe></p> http://iwf.org/publications/2805798/Hadley HeathThu, 8 Feb 2018 19:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum"Donut" Close Medicare's Coverage Gap This Way<p> The Medicare Part D &quot;donut hole&quot; is a coverage gap in prescription drug coverage that for years has put beneficiaries on the hook for the full share of their drug costs. Basically, if your drug costs are low enough, they are either part of your deductible or are covered by your &quot;plan sponsor&quot; or insurance company, and if they are high enough, they are covered by the government via reinsurance (with some cost-sharing at every level). But if your drug costs are in the middle of these limits, you are in no man&#39;s land -- the donut hole.</p> <p> The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, did try to address this: The law gradually manipulated the percentages that drugmakers, insurance companies, and Medicare beneficiaries in the coverage gap would pay, until ultimately, for all Medicare patients knew, the donut hole would be closed in 2020 and their cost-sharing would stay constant no matter what their drug costs (until they reached a very high amount, qualifying them as always for government help via reinsurance).</p> <p> Closing the donut hole, for understandable reasons, is a very popular policy. No senior wants to fall into the donut hole -- they&#39;d be better off if it were closed. But as in all things in public policy, there&#39;s a right and a wrong way to reach this goal.&nbsp;</p> <p> The latest budget deal under consideration on Capitol Hill has some bright spots -- like <a href="http://iwf.org/news/2804937/Bipartisan-agreement-on-healthcare-might-finally-come,-at-least-on-this-one-issue">repealing IPAB </a>-- but it also includes some moves in the wrong direction, like a change to how the donut hole is closed. Rather than splitting donut-hole costs between drugmakers and insurance companies 50 percent to 25 percent (with the remaining 25 percent coming from patients), the budget deal would move more costs onto drugmakers for a 70-percent-to-5-percent split.</p> <p> In other words, the ACA would have forced drugmakers to pick up 50 percent of the cost of drugs in the donut hole. The new budget deal would force drugmakers to pay for 70 percent. This would reduce insurers&#39; responsibility from 25 to 5 percent. Here&#39;s a helpful graphic from our friends at American Action Forum (AAF) that shows who pays for what in various parts of Medicare Part D. The blue and green portion in the third bar shows the policy provision that&#39;s currently under consideration.</p> <p> <img alt="" src="https://www.americanactionforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/BBA2018-Coverage-Gap-CHanges-2.png" style="width: 748px; height: 453px;" /></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Let&#39;s face it, it can be tempting to shrug off the government forcing new costs on drug companies. But there are risks involved with this policy approach. First, as <a href="https://www.americanactionforum.org/insight/bipartisan-budget-act-changes-pays-drug-costs-part-d-coverage-gap/#ixzz56XvLsgzy">Tara O&#39;Neill at AAF</a> points out, this could discourage insurance companies from taking an interest in reducing costs (when they are only responsible for 5 percent). Second, as <a href="http://pdf.iwf.org/pharmaceutical_drug_costs_PF18.pdf">I outlined in IWF&#39;s latest policy focus,</a> government controls on how much drugmakers can charge can also have unintended consequences.&nbsp;</p> <p> People might look at this convoluted mess and wonder why the donut hole exists in the first place. The answer is that it was primarily a budget gimmick in order to reduce the costs to the government (that heavily subsidizes Part D). The program shifted those costs on to Medicare patients (who, before Part D had neither &quot;donut&quot; nor &quot;hole.&quot;) In their effort to continue to crunch budget numbers, lawmakers shouldn&#39;t make another misstep in foisting (an even higher share of) the costs of the donut hole onto drug companies when such a policy could harm patients by making critical drugs less accessible. Close the donut hole, sure, but do it the right way.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2805796/Hadley HeathThu, 8 Feb 2018 15:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Stock Market Is Not the Economy • Coast to Coasthttp://iwf.org/media/2805769/Hadley HeathTue, 6 Feb 2018 17:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBipartisan view: Health care huge issue for voters<p> According to the Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services, 8.8 million people enrolled in 2018 Obamacare plans between November 1 and December 15. That&#39;s down slightly from the previous year&#39;s enrollment period but it&#39;s still being viewed as a positive by some because the 2018 enrollment period was the shortest thus far.</p> <p> &quot;Both parties are paying attention especially after a better-than-expected enrollment season under the health care law,&quot; The Associated Press reported.</p> <p> The same AP story points to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Friday that found health care is the top issue voters want congressional candidates to address.</p> <p> &quot;We&#39;re definitely making it an issue,&quot; Jason Crow, a Democratic congressional candidate in Colorado, told the AP.</p> <p> That state is one of several states that saw enrollment approach or surpass 2017 levels. California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, New York, and Vermont report the same thing.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning of&nbsp;</span></span><a href="http://iwv.org/" target="_blank"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Voice</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;agrees that Democrats will campaign on Obamacare.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;They&#39;ve always been on the side of &#39;more coverage&#39; and specifically more coverage through the Affordable Care Act programs,&quot; Manning tells OneNewsNow. &quot;It reminds me actually of a Ronald Reagan quote that the closest thing to eternal life on earth is a government program.&quot;</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;">Once people get enrolled in something, Manning says a program starts to enjoy a &quot;status quo&quot; advantage.</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;">&quot;And that&#39;s certainly the case with the Affordable Care Act,&quot; she continues. &quot;As soon as there are beneficiaries, as soon as there is a population that can say that they&#39;re being helped, then it becomes much harder to repeal or even to reform that particular program. So that&#39;s a challenge for Republicans now.&quot;</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;">A coalition of conservative groups is calling on President Donald Trump to make health care reform the focus of his legislative agenda this year.</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;">Manning helped organize that effort and, in fact, she collected signatures from a variety of center-right individuals to include with the coalition letter.</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;">&quot;There are people who have benefited and the flip side of that coin is there are people who have really suffered,&quot; says Manning. &quot;I think what Republicans should focus on doing is minimizing disruption to the health care system, keeping in places things for people that have benefited, while at the same time addressing concerns that other people have.&quot;</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;">Meanwhile, Manning thinks Republicans need to do a better job communicating why they want to make changes.</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;">&quot;It&#39;s not just a political issue,&quot; she says, &quot;but it&#39;s a policy issue that affects the everyday lives of millions of people.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> http://iwf.org/media/2805683/Hadley HeathTue, 30 Jan 2018 08:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBig Names Leaving Congress • Coast to Coasthttp://iwf.org/media/2805720/Hadley HeathMon, 29 Jan 2018 11:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Problem with the Viral "Whopper Neutrality" Video<p> Have you seen the video floating around Facebook comparing the repeal of Net Neutrality (a set of FCC regulations on the internet) to a world were Whoppers cost $26? Yes, it&#39;s absurd.&nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="https://www.facebook.com/burgerking/videos/2023453391001320/">You can watch it here.&nbsp;</a></p> <p> Customers (presumably real customers getting punk&#39;d) respond in shock as Burger King employees explain a new (fake) policy to charge more for &quot;fast&quot; Whoppers&quot; and less for &quot;slow&quot; Whoppers. The suggestion is that, absent Net Neutrality, internet providers will jack up prices for any decent speed of internet, leaving customers stuck with two bad options: pay a ton for fast internet, or suffer the slowness.&nbsp;</p> <p> Burger King forgot one minor detail: McDonald&#39;s. Well, not McDonald&#39;s specifically, but the <em>concept of market competition</em>. Any of the irate customers in the video could easily go across the street to a different fast food restaurant and get truly *fast* food without the annoyance of a waiting time (and without getting filmed for a lousy piece of propaganda, too).</p> <p> Obviously, there&#39;s no current law in place preventing Burger King from doing exactly what they demonstrated in their video. But they would never do something like this -- not for lack of regulation -- but because competition is the best consumer protection in the whole world. If fast food providers wanted to create a pricing model based on wait time (and they are free to do so!), they would do so... but only if this model was profitable. It&#39;s more likely that a competitor would simply make everyone&#39;s food really fast at low prices, effectively undercutting the place with bad time-pricing idea.&nbsp;</p> <p> Competition among internet companies may not be as robust today as competition among fast food chains (which have to be one of the easiest examples of market competition, with close substitute goods... except for Chik-Fil-A nuggets... say what you will but the world is deprived on Sundays!) But this is acutally an argument against Net Neutrality, which limits competition and resulted in a slowdown in the creation of new services and broadband investment between 2015 and 2017. Here&#39;s to a freer internet in the future!&nbsp;</p> <p> Way to wade into a political issue and totally botch it, Burger King. Ironically, the most appropriate word for this video&#39;s misleading message is... &quot;Whopper.&quot;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2805675/Hadley HeathFri, 26 Jan 2018 17:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumVideo: What you need to know about School Choice<p> This week, Jan. 21-26, is National School Choice Week. So what is school choice and why is it important? I got to ask these questions of Dr. Vicki Alger, IWF Senior fellow and education policy expert, in a discussion on Facebook Live today.</p> <p> To sum it up: School choice means a lot of different policy measures, like support for private schools, charter schools, online learning or homeschooling, as well as Education Savings Accounts that give families freedom over more education dollars. But the principle behind all of these policy approaches is the same: Every family should be in control of their child&#39;s education. There&#39;s no &quot;average&quot; child or &quot;standard&quot; child... Parents know what&#39;s best for their individual child or children, and we should allow them to have maximum choice.</p> <p> I asked Vicki about the concern some critics of school choice have -- namely that school choice will harm traditional public schools. Her answer focused on the empirical evidence out of Arizona, where she lives:</p> <blockquote> <p> We were the first to have a whole variety of non-public school choice options, in addition to an expansive array of public options as well. So if public schools anywhere were going to be harmed, it would be right here in Arizona. But guess what we&#39;ve seen? If you look at the nation&#39;s report card... Arizona leads the nation in improvement for low-income children, African-American children, and Hispanic/Latino children... Take a look at the U.S. News and World Report rankings of the best public high schools in the country. Guess which state dominates? It&#39;s Arizona. We have more in the top 25 than California and New York combined... So our public schools are doing great. They&#39;re more responsive, and they&#39;re becoming more innovative. Why? Because you give parents freedom, you give schools freedom, and everybody finds a place that&#39;s a good fit for them.</p> </blockquote> <p> Vicki also mentioned that she&#39;s a step-mom to four kids, all of whom are in public schools. She stressed that she would never advocate for a policy that would harm them.</p> <p> The whole 11-minute conversation is worth watching. If you missed the live video, you can see it here:</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Findependentwomensforum%2Fvideos%2F10156185474794175%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> Be sure to follow <a href="https://www.facebook.com/independentwomensforum">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a> on Facebook so you can join us for future live videos and other content.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2805654/Hadley HeathThu, 25 Jan 2018 15:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIn Today's WSJ: A Simple Plan for Parental Leave<p> In today&#39;s <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-simple-plan-for-parental-leave-1516836442">Wall Street Journal</a>, Kristin Shapiro and Andrew Biggs write about a refreshingly innovative approach to the problem of paid family leave, an approach that is likely to draw support from both sides of the aisle. It has our support at Independent Women&#39;s Forum because:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> It&rsquo;s budget-neutral, gender-neutral, and completely voluntary.</li> <li> It requires no new taxes and depends strongly on the principle of personal responsibility.</li> <li> It works within the framework of other existing programs and laws.</li> </ul> <p> How does it work? Here&#39;s how Shapiro and Biggs summarize it in today&#39;s WSJ article:</p> <blockquote> <p> Our proposal is simple: Offer new parents the opportunity to collect early Social Security benefits for a period&mdash;say, 12 weeks&mdash;after the arrival of their child. To offset the cost, parents would agree to delay collecting Social Security retirement benefits, probably for only about six weeks.</p> </blockquote> <p> The authors then walk through an example of a woman who starts working at age 21 and has a child at 26. You should read the <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-simple-plan-for-parental-leave-1516836442">whole article here</a>. Or, for even more information, check out the <a href="http://pdf.iwf.org/budget-neutral_approach_parental_leave_PF18.pdf">IWF Policy Focus</a> that Kristin Shapiro wrote for us this month. It details the plan, explains how it is self-financing, and addresses a few other common concerns people have when they first hear about it. Worth the read!&nbsp;</p> <p> We should put this new proposal (and our support for it) in context: At IWF, we have <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-time-for-small-thinking-on-paid-family-leave-is-over/article/2616226">often criticized</a> government-centric attempts to mandate or fund universal paid family leave because we understand that many of these proposals come with significant downsides for workers, especially women. We&#39;ve written <a href="http://iwf.org/news/2802975/Government-Enforced-Paid-Leave:-Compassion-or-Control-Freakism-">time</a> and <a href="http://www.iwf.org/news/2799596/Facts,-Not-Emotional-Anecdotes,-Should-Drive-Paid-Leave-Debate">time</a> again that mandates (on employers, requiring that they offer paid time off) would raise the cost of employing potential dads and especially moms. And we&#39;ve <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-paid-leave-compromise-dreamed-up-by-two-think-tanks-goes-in-the-wrong-direction/article/2625140">argued</a> that expansions of government like the <a href="http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/167e75a7-d65b-4c41-8b1a-14570e2268b1/PolicyFocus14_Jan_p1.pdf">FAMILY Act</a> would hurt workers through increased payroll taxes and would likely displace the variety of customized paid leave options that many employers currently offer.&nbsp;</p> <p> We are often the sole voice among women&#39;s groups to raise objections to these flawed plans. But data back us up: Other countries with more generous government-guaranteed paid leave have <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/12/20/the-link-between-parental-leave-and-the-gender-pay-gap/">wider wage gaps</a> and <a href="http://www.iwf.org/news/2800180/I-Live-In-A-Country-With-Paid-Family-Leave.-It's-No-Magic-Bullet.">fewer women in managerial positions</a>. Women in the U.S. have incredible opportunities to advance, in part because Uncle Sam has stayed out of our way in negotiating our jobs, our compensation, and our benefits.&nbsp;</p> <p> But when Kristin Shapiro came to us with her idea to give workers a choice -- the choice to get parental benefits sooner in exchange for delaying their retirement benefits later -- we were excited to consider this truly creative solution. It should appeal to those on the left who want to expand access to paid family leave. But it should also appeal to many on the right. Granted, many social conservatives favor paid family leave policies because of the way paid leave time can strengthen families.</p> <p> But even libertarians and small-government types should appreciate that in this proposal, no one is asked to bear responsibility for another person&#39;s choices or leave time. It&#39;s the working parent who decides to make a tradeoff that affects him or her alone. The government is already collecting Social Security payroll taxes from every worker; this plan would simply offer workers another option for how to get some of their hard-earned dollars back. And because of how it&#39;s designed, this plan is not likely to disrupt the paid leave arrangements that many employers offer on their own, but it targets the most relief to those who currently lack on-the-job benefits.&nbsp;</p> <p> While there is no perfect solution to the problem of paid family leave, this plan -- Social Security Parental Benefits -- is the best we&#39;ve ever seen, and it could significantly improve the status quo with far fewer downsides than any other plan advanced so far.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2805648/Hadley HeathThu, 25 Jan 2018 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs Trump Keeping His Word on Pharmaceutical Drugs?<p> High drug prices are one of Americans&#39; <a href="https://www.kff.org/report-section/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-late-april-2017-the-future-of-the-aca-and-health-care-the-budget-rx-drugs/">top concerns</a>, regardless of political party. It&#39;s not surprising, then to hear politicians on both sides of the aisle promise to address the issue.</p> <p> President Trump was no different. When we ran for office, he repeatedly slammed the drug industry, even suggesting that companies are &quot;getting away with murder.&quot; His opponents, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, also highlighted high drug costs as part of their campaign agenda. But now that he&#39;s in office, President Trump has come <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/19/trump-hasnt-attacked-drug-prices-like-he-promised-during-his-first-year-in-office.html">under fire in the media</a> for failing to attack drug prices.&nbsp;</p> <p> The issue is harder than it looks: The question is not whether Amerians want action, but what can be done. Often, politicians&#39; first instinct looks like the easy route: price controls. It would be easy enough to tell drugmakers that they can only charge, say, $5 per pill, but the consequences of price controls are clear where they&#39;ve been tried. They result in shortages as drugmakers cannot recoup the high costs of their investment (in research and development, FDA trials, and the manufacture of drugs). Price controls look like an easy answer, but they ultimately hurt patients/consumers more than they help as drugs become inaccessible entirely.</p> <p> The other oft-proposed solution to high drug costs is allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with drugmakers. This sounds a little more market-friendly, maybe because of the word &quot;negotiate.&quot; But this policy idea, too, is really just price controls by another name. Medicare is a huge payer in American health care, insuring more than 55.5 million American seniors, and seniors consume a disproportionately high amount of the nation&#39;s prescription drugs. Private insurance companies often look to Medicare as a reference point for pricing as well. Medicare threatens to act like a monopoly (technically a <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/monopsony">monopsony</a>) in this proposed &quot;negotiation&quot; (and it would certainly be one if the program were expanded to be, as Bernie Sanders wants, &quot;Medicare for all,&quot; or a single payer system).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> So what else can be done? Actually, this is where the Trump Administration has taken some action: Increasing competition among drugmakers. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb has pursued several policy changes that could foster greater competition from generic drugs, which are usually cheaper than brandname drugs, by highlighting areas for opportunity and expediting FDA approval. Although these might seem like small steps, Gottlieb deserves credit for this.&nbsp;</p> <p> The other major reforms that could help consumers access more affordable drugs are mostly out of Pres. Trump&#39;s hands for now -- the issue really belongs to Congress because of the way health payment, health insurance, price transparency and competition (or our current lack thereof), and the Medicare and Medicaid programs are controlled by federal statute. Ironically, so many of Congress&#39;s previous efforts to control healthcare costs (usually by mandating various services or drugs be paid for via health insurance) have backfired by removing consumers from any decisions about price and value.</p> <p> It&#39;s frustrating to all Americans that we need certain services and drugs, but we don&#39;t know how much they cost compared to other options, and we can&#39;t sit in the room when bureaucrats, insurers, hospitals, and drug companies make their agreements. To really restore competition in health care and lower costs (including for drugs), we should work to move our policy in the opposite direction, closer to the individual patient.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2805640/Hadley HeathWed, 24 Jan 2018 16:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSchumer Losing the Immigration Battle • After the Bellhttp://iwf.org/media/2805667/Hadley HeathTue, 23 Jan 2018 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum