Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 3, 2012/ 11 Iyar, 5772

Obama inspires: 'America --- Still Not as Bad Off as Venezuela!'

By A. Barton Hinkle




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The New York Times recently ran a devastating indictment of health-care reform and Washington's approach to it. The article didn't put it that way, naturally. In fact, it didn't even mention the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But the story, as they say, resonated.

The piece concerned shortages of essential goods in Venezuela, and the causes behind them. "President Hugo Chavez's … government … imposes strict price controls that are intended to make a range of foods and other goods more affordable for the poor," the article reported. But those "are often the very products that are the hardest to find." The front-pager went on to quote Venezuelans venting their frustration as they stood in line for basics such as milk and toilet paper.

"Venezuela was long one of the most prosperous countries in the region, with sophisticated manufacturing, vibrant agriculture and strong businesses," the story continued. "But amid the prosperity, the gap between rich and poor was extreme, a problem that Mr. Chávez and his ministers say they are trying to eliminate."

Sound familiar?

"They blame unfettered capitalism for the country's economic ills." Does that sound like any other administrations you know of? Maybe ones that start with O and rhyme with llama?

"They say companies cause shortages on purpose, holding products off the market to push up prices." Gosh, where have we heard that before? Oh, yes — in this October CNN report, "Obama Tackles Drug Shortages, Prices": "The Justice Department will be tasked with examining whether specific drug shortages are tied to an intentional stockpiling of medications designed to raise prices."

In fact, some of those drug shortages are caused at least in part by (you guessed it) price controls. We have this on the authority of none other than Ezekiel Emanuel — former Obama adviser, brother of Rahm, and alleged (but not actual) supporter of "death panels." As Emanuel explains, a 2003 prescription-drug law has had an "unintended consequence … . [A] drug's price should be able to increase … to attract more manufacturers. Because the 2003 act effectively limits drug price increases, it prevents this from happening. The low profit margins mean that manufacturers face a hard choice: lose money producing a lifesaving drug or switch limited production capacity to a more lucrative drug."

That description sounds just like the Times report from Venezuela, where "prices are set so low, [economists] say, that companies and producers cannot make a profit. So farmers grow less food, manufacturers cut back production and retailers stock less inventory."

What does this have to do with health-care reform? Well, among its manifold other provisions, the law imposes price controls — albeit indirectly.

First, it sets a "medical loss ratio" (MLR) for insurance companies. That's a fancy way of saying insurers must spend at least 85 percent of their revenue paying claims (or 80 percent for smaller companies). Profits, sales commissions and administrative costs cannot exceed 15 (or 20) percent. If an insurance company exceeds the acceptable loss ratio, then it must rebate the overage to consumers. Insurance brokers are taking a hit on commissions and, Investor's Business Daily reports, "some health insurers are dropping out of the individual market completely, while others are cutting back." The newspaper also notes that while paying fraudulent claims would count toward an insurer's MLR, anti-fraud software would go on the administrative-cost side of the ledger.

Second, health insurers are not allowed to raise premiums by more than 10 percent without government permission. Ostensibly, states do the reviewing — but HHS looks over their shoulder and takes control if the feds think the states aren't doing the job well. If an insurer raises rates beyond what HHS considers "reasonable" — whatever that means — it could be banned from the state exchanges. This, says Forbes, creates "a de facto environment of federal authority over rate increases."

Now step back from the trees to look at the forest. Health-care reform forbids insurers to turn anyone down because of a pre-existing condition, and — if it survives Supreme Court review — will add millions to the rolls. It also imposes a series of expensive mandates that will drive up costs. At the same time, it seeks to keep insurers from adjusting to the new realities by raising prices too much. Where will all that lead?

The historical evidence is not encouraging. In addition to Venezuela, one could cite New York City, where rent control has created a permanent housing shortage; or Zimbabwe ("Zimbabwe is facing serious food shortages due to price controls imposed earlier this month by the government," BBC) or Russia ("Price Controls on Gasoline in Russia Causing Shortages," Economic Policy Journal), or dozens of other examples.

To be fair, the effects of health-care reform will not be nearly so drastic as the effect of the price controls imposed by Hugo Chavez or Robert Mugabe. But how big a selling point is that? "America — Still Not as Bad Off as Venezuela!" Not the most inspiring slogan, is it?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

A. Barton Hinkle is Deputy Editor of the Editorial Pages at Richmond Times-Dispatch Comment by clicking here.


Previously:




04/26/12: It's everyone's favorite time of year again
03/29/12: GOP disillusionment is a good thing
03/27/12: Just what America needs: more red tape
03/20/12: Nation wondering: what happening to language?
02/21/12: Culture warriors resort to propaganda
02/15/12: Step away from that cookie and grab some air
02/08/12: Lessons in heresy
02/01/12: Do We Really Need Pickle-Flavored Potato Chips?
01/11/12: Shut up, they explained
12/30/11: A Modest Proposal: Let's Ban All Sports!
12/26/11: A Christmas letter from the Obamas
02/24/11: Will the next Watson need us?
12/24/10: Here Are Some Good Gifts for People You Hate
06/15/10: The Presinator
05/26/10: More than equal
04/08/10: Angry Right Takes a Page From Angry Left but guess who is ‘ugly’?
02/16/10: Either Obama owes George W. Bush an apology, or he owes the rest of us a very good explanation for his about-face on wiretapping
02/03/10: Talkin' to us 'tards
01/27/10: I never thought I'd see the day when progressives would howl in ragebecause the Supreme Court said government should not ban books
01/07/10: Gun-Control Advocates Play Fast and Loose
12/31/09: Nearly everything progressives say about neoconservative interventionism abroad applies to their own preferred policies at home





© 2011, A. Barton Hinkle

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

Quantcast