Tag Archives: Consumer-Driven

Conservative legislators introduce new consumer-focused replacement for Obamacare

Obamacare premium growth, 2015-2016
Obamacare insurers are dropping out, which raises premiums higher, 2015-2016

I have your Thursday good news ready to go – from the Daily Signal.

This is how you reform health care:

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., introduced a bill to replace Obamacare on Wednesday, increasing the pressure on GOP leaders who continue to discuss moving the law’s replacement at the same time as its repeal.

The legislation already has the full support of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly 40 of the lower chamber’s conservative members. Conservatives in both the House and Senate have said they want to see repeal efforts move faster, and the lawmakers are hoping that the legislation is a turning point in the repeal-and-replace debate.

“We’re excited about the fact that it will finally be able to address many of the concerns that we’re hearing, whether it’s at town halls or personal calls from our constituents about pre-existing conditions, about how to empower the consumer in terms of their health care choice, and ultimately drive down the price of health care,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said Wednesday.

Called the Obamacare Replacement Act, the legislation shares the hallmarks of other GOP replacement plans, and Paul said it was a “consensus bill” that pulled aspects of other proposals together.

[…]Paul and Sanford’s bill focuses heavily on the expansion of health savings accounts (HSAs), which are medical savings accounts. Their legislation allows consumers to contribute an unlimited amount annually to HSAs. Currently, consumers can contribute a maximum of $3,400 per year.

The Obamacare Replacement Act also creates a $5,000 tax credit for those who contribute to a HSA, and prohibits consumers from using the money in their accounts to pay for elective abortions.

Under Paul and Sanford’s bill, consumers who don’t receive insurance through their employers can deduct the cost of premiums from their taxable incomes, which serves to equalize the tax treatment for individuals and employers.

Additionally, the legislation allows individuals and small businesses to band together through membership in an Association Health Plan to buy health insurance. Paul and Sanford said these pooling mechanisms will decrease costs for consumers.

The bill also allows insurance companies to sell policies across state lines and eliminates Obamacare’s essential health benefits mandate, which is a list of services insurance plans are required to cover without cost-sharing.

If you want to drive down the cost of health care, you let people get covered for only what they need – no abortions, sex changes, IVF, acupuncture, drug rehabilitation, breast enlargements, fertility treatments, etc. Allowing people to buy plans across state lines will mean that consumers in blue states like California and Massachusetts won’t be forced to buy in-state plans that cover all kinds of progressive garbage that they don’t even want.

Look how Obamacare is falling apart:

At the Future of Healthcare event put on by the Wall Street Journal, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said that Obamacare was only “getting worse” because there weren’t enough young, healthy enrollees to pay for the sick people covered by the Obamacare exchanges. Bertolini said it was due to “how poorly structured the funding mechanism and premium model is,” as premiums keep increasing with the death spiral, causing less people to sign up, and thus resulting in even higher premiums.

“I think you will see a lot more withdrawals this year of plans,” Bertolini said.

On Wednesday, Humana–which came to a mutual agreement with Aetna not to merge–announcedthat it was withdrawing from Obamacare altogether. In 2016, UnitedHealth also announced that they would be pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges, and Aetna itself said they would only stay in four Obamacare exchanges.

Bertolini stated at the event that the company has not decided if it will remain in these Obamacare exchanges.

“There isn’t any risk sharing going on in Nebraska,” Bertolini said, pointing to the fact that Aetna was the only insurer left in that exchange. “It will cost us a lot of money.”

Now is the time to replace it!

The problem with Obamacare is that it didn’t do anything to leverage the strengths of the free enterprise system. Instead of turning health care purchasing into competitive online e-commerce (i.e. – Amazon), they turned it into the DMV and the post office. What else would you expect from clowns who were born rich, and never held private sector jobs in their entire lives? You don’t expect the people who run the single-payer VA health system that is killing people on waiting lists to do a good job of reforming health care, do you? Let the free market solve it. Choice and competition means lower prices.

International tests show US children lagging despite record spending on education

Jay Richards tweeted this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Since 1998, the Program for International Student Assessment, or Pisa, has ranked 15-year-old kids around the world on common reading, math and science tests. The U.S. brings up the middle—again—among 65 education systems that make up fourth-fifths of the global economy. The triennial Pisa report also shows—again—that East Asian countries like Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea produce the best outcomes.

U.S. performance hasn’t budged in a decade. For 2012, U.S. students placed 26th in mathematics, a bit below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average, and 17th in reading and 21st in science, close to the average. The U.S. slipped in all categories compared to international competitors, plunging from 11th in reading as recently as 2009.

American teenagers seem especially weak in core academic subjects with high cognitive demands, such as translating concepts into solutions for real-world problems. A quarter never become proficient in math. In Shanghai and Korea, the comparable figure is 10% or fewer. Some 7% of U.S. students reached the top two scientific performance levels, compared with 17% in Finland and an amazing 27% in Shanghai. Is it tiger moms or tiger schools, or maybe both?

The U.S. is way out front in one measure: per-student spending. Only Austria, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland spend more. Despite laying out $115,000 per head, the U.S. did no better than the Slovak Republic, which spends $53,000.

Perhaps most depressingly, the data show no statistically significant U.S. achievement improvement over time. None. In an era when it pays to be thankful for small mercies, at least we’re not getting worse, but America’s relative standing is falling as other countries improve.

[…]Massachusetts has been running public schools since 1635 and today is home to some of the best performers in the nation. The state entered Pisa as if it was its own country—but students of the same age in Shanghai performed as if they had two more years of math instruction than those in the Bay State.

[…]Pisa also adds another count to the bill of indictment for the Democrats who block reform to serve their teachers union patrons. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the report “a picture of educational stagnation,” but liberals are major impediments to more accountability, merit-based compensation and school-choice competition. The Justice Department has even gone so far as to sue Louisiana to block its modest voucher program, which is a moral crime against the students consigned to failing schools.

There are a few areas of economics that I think that Christians really ought to understand, and education is one of them. We definitely need to be concerned about policies that make it harder for poor, minority students to get ahead. We keep throwing money at the unionized public school system, and we get no results. We need to think about making education more like online shopping. What makes online shopping great is choice and competition. If schools were allowed to compete with one another, then the customer would be assured of getting more quality for less money. The public school system is a monopoly, and it serves the teachers and the education bureaucrats – not the children.

Related posts

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal unveils education reform plan

Here are the details on Bobby Jindal’s new education plan, from New Orleans Online Access.

Excerpt:

 Gov. Bobby Jindal on Tuesday outlined a far-reaching set of proposals aimed at improving education in Louisiana, including a state-wide voucher program for low-income students, an expansion of autonomous charter schools and steps to link a teachers’ classroom performance to their job protections and their compensation. The governor has been promising for months now to make education reform the centerpiece of his second-term agenda.

[…]The voucher program may prove the most controversial aspect of the plan. Jindal is proposing to help pay tuition at private and parochial schools for any child of a low-income family who attends a school that receives a letter grade of C, D or F.

More than 70 percent of Louisiana’s public schools would fall into that category, opening up districts across the state to competition for public funding from private institutions. Parents who opt out of those public schools would be able to take the public funding set aside for their child with them to pay for tuition.

Voucher opponents argue that offering private school tuition siphons money away from public education, but the governor is framing the idea as a way to put decision-making in the hands of parents.

Also toward that end, Jindal is proposing to fast-track the approval of new charter schools for proven charter operators. Charters are publicly funded but privately managed and typically overseen by nonprofit boards. They compete with traditional public schools in their area for students.

Jindal is also proposing to end regular annual pay increases for teachers based on years in the classroom, ban the use of seniority in all personnel decisions and weaken the power that local school boards have in hiring and firing decisions in favor of superintendents.

Teachers coming into the classroom for the first time would also see major changes under Jindal’s plan: districts would have greater flexibility to establish their own pay scales for new teachers and tenure would be set aside only for those who earn high ratings on evaluations five years in a row.

I thought it might be helpful to also post this quick introduction to the issue of school choice, from the Cato Institute.

I don’t agree with the Cato Institute on everything, but they’re right on this issue. The Heritage Foundation also has 3 small videos explaining school choice – with cartoons!

There’s an even longer video narrated by John Stossel that you can watch, that really explains the why school reform matters – and why it’s a conservative issue. Like the sex-selection abortion issue that I blogged about here before, this is an issue that conservatives need to seize on. Here, we can really let our compassionate side show by helping the poorest students, especially those in visible minorities, who simply cannot get a quality education in a public school monopoly that is not responsive to the needs of parents, or their children. This is an issue where we can win – the only losers are the educational bureaucrats and the teacher unions. But the kids are more important.

Supreme Court narrowly sides with private schools against government

From the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

The Supreme Court’s big school choice decision yesterday is notable mainly for its insight into the progressive mind. To wit, no fewer than four Justices seem to believe that all wealth belongs to the government, and then government allows citizens to keep some of it by declining to tax it.

At issue in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn was a state tax credit for donations to organizations that offer scholarships for private schools, including (but not exclusively) religious schools. A group of taxpayers sued, claiming that religion was being subsidized on their dime, in violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

The district court tossed out this novel church-state theory, only to have it revived by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday’s 5-4 decision was another well-deserved rebuke to the nation’s leading judicial activists who dominate that appellate court.

[…]And what do you know, four Justices assume precisely that. Both of President Obama’s nominees joined the four dissenters, and newcomer Elena Kagan delivered a fiery 24-page apologia for that position, claiming that “the distinction” between appropriations and tax credits “is one in search of a difference.” There’s a good debate to be had about tax credits (see below), but one question for Justice Kagan: Is the government also establishing religion by not imposing a 100% tax rate on churches, mosques and synagogues?With one more vote, the current Court’s liberal minority would surely ban school choice involving any religious schools. The Arizona decision shows again that the Court is only a single vote away from many decisions not all that far removed from those of the Ninth Circuit.

You can also listen to a 5-minute podcast on the decision from the Hugh Hewitt show right here.

Note that Obama’s two new appointees sided against Christian schools and private schools. Yet some brain-damaged Christians actually vote for Democrats, and claim to be Christians. (And they claim to want to get married and to raise children who will presumably be Christians, too!). School choice is as central an issue to informed Christians as is opposition to no-fault divorce, same-sex marriage and abortion.

Must-see videos on education policy

Related posts

Republicans in Florida, Indiana and Pennsylvania push school choice

First, education reform in Florida.

Excerpt:

Michelle Rhee, who gained national attention as the chancellor of schools in Washington, D.C., called Monday for giving students government-funded vouchers to attend private schools, rating principals based on student achievement and getting rid of teacher tenure.

The release of the blueprint was the first formal action of Ms. Rhee’s new advocacy group, StudentsFirst, which she launched in December, after leaving her job heading D.C. schools in October. Ms. Rhee said she was in discussions with the governors of Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey, Tennessee, Nevada and Indiana to adopt part, if not all, of the agenda.

[…]The nation’s two largest teachers’ unions criticized Ms. Rhee’s agenda.[…]The detailed plan Ms. Rhee released Monday focuses on overhauling teacher pay and evaluation plans, giving parents more say in their child’s education and spending tax dollars more wisely.

In addition to doing away with tenure, it calls for ending the practice of paying teachers based on years of service and on the master’s degrees they collect. Ms. Rhee said pay should be based on whether teachers boost student achievement.

She also is calling for districts to get parental consent before placing children in the classrooms of low-performing teachers. Ms. Rhee said firing ineffective teachers can be time-consuming and expensive.

“Too many districts hide the fact that they have ineffective teachers and we are saying, ‘If you can’t change the laws, then you have to give parents the information,’ ” she said.

The blueprint also prods states and districts to adopt “parent trigger” laws that let parents force a major overhaul of a school if more than half of them sign a petition. They could vote to turn the school into a charter school or force the district to get rid of most of the teaching staff.A similar policy was used in Compton, Calif., last year.

Ms. Rhee’s document also calls for an end to what she calls ineffective policies that waste taxpayer money, such as class size reduction policies in the higher grade levels. Her plan, she said, wouldn’t increase spending but would ensure taxpayer money was spent more wisely.

StudentsFirst’s initial foray into policy could be in Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who was elected to office in November, appointed Ms. Rhee to his transition team. In a news release, Mr. Scott praised Ms. Rhee’s agenda and said he supported her call to eliminate tenure and expand the number of charter schools, public schools run by independent groups.

And education reform from Indiana. (H/T Heritage Foundation)

Excerpt:

Gov. Mitch Daniels urged the state legislature to finally act on significant reforms to public education and local government in his annual State of the State speech Tuesday, repeating a call for the expansion of charter schools, merit pay for teachers and the elimination of township government.

[…]Now empowered by a Republican majority in both legislative chambers, Daniels said “it’s going to be a session to remember.” He was escorted to the podium by several lawmakers of both parties, including Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary.

He said Indiana should let students finish their high school studies a year early and be given scholarships for college studies. Teachers should be rewarded based on student performance, he said, adding that one in three Hoosier children can pass the national math or reading exam.

Meanwhile, he said 99 percent of Indiana teachers are rated “effective.”

“If that were true 99 percent, not one-third, of our students would be passing those national tests,” Daniels said.

Families who can’t find the right public or charter public school, he said, should be able to apply state dollars toward “the non-government school of their choice.”

And finally, education reform in Pennsylvania. (H/T Heritage Foundation)

Excerpt:

Political momentum is building for taxpayer-funded school tuition vouchers, as hundreds of people clogged the Capitol rotunda Tuesday to support the idea of “school choice.”

[…]During the recent campaign, Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley told the boisterous crowd, Gov. Tom Corbett “repeatedly said that things would change in education. Today we start that process of putting children first. State government should be open to and promote charter schools, home schools, private schools and cyber schools” as well as traditional public schools, he said.”I’m more excited and encouraged about the possibility of educational change than I’ve ever been,” said Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, who has been advocating state-funded tuition vouchers for 15 years.

[…]His bill, Senate Bill 1, would create a three-phase program for making state-funded vouchers available to low-income students who now have no choice but to go to public schools that consistently score poorly on state proficiency tests.

[…]The Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on the bill in mid-February, and it could get a Senate vote in March. Since Republicans control both the Senate and House, and since Gov. Tom Corbett supports the school choice idea, the bill is likely to be enacted. But opponents could file a court challenge.

Last week was “School Choice Week“, and there were a lot of events promoting school choice. Republicans noticed these events and participated in them. And now Republicans are making a push to sign bills that help poor students to get better educations. Democrats are opposed to school choice because they are supported by teacher unions who want guaranteed jobs for teachers regardless of performance.

I like that the Republicans are making pushes to cut spending, ban taxpayer funding of abortions, and introduce school choice. These are all issues that I strongly agree with, because they are all pro-child. Children shouldn’t have to pay for the debts their parents run up, children shouldn’t be killed in the womb, and children shouldn’t get a crappy education just so that badly performing schools can stay open. These policies make sense to me. Next, they should introduce a federal law for charter marriages, and introduce a federal voucher program for pre-marital counseling.

Must-see videos on education policy

Related posts