In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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 March 10, 2011 / 4 Adar II, 5771

A RomneyCare fix for Romney

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Our experiment wasn't perfect," said former Governor Mitt Romney, speaking to an audience of New Hampshire Republicans about the Massachusetts health-care overhaul he signed in 2006. "Some things worked; some things didn't. Some things I'd change."

Well, fair enough, though it's a lot easier to say what didn't work than what did. Five years ago Romney confidently predicted that under the law he and Senator Ted Kennedy collaborated on, "the costs of health care will be reduced." But the price of health coverage in Massachusetts is rising faster than ever -- premiums for individual insurance policies are up 6 percent more than they would have been without RomneyCare, and for employers the increases have been among the steepest anywhere. "Massachusetts still has the highest insurance premiums in the nation, and the gap is getting wider," the late economist John Calfee, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote shortly before his death.

So what would Romney change about the Massachusetts law? Governor Deval Patrick's idea of a fix is legislation that would effectively impose price controls on doctors and hospitals, with state regulators deciding how much health-care providers should be paid, and then compelling insurers to accept those rates. But price controls nearly always do more harm than good, and Patrick's bill is likely to result in making health care even more unaffordable or unavailable in Massachusetts. Presumably Romney isn't planning to endorse his successor's proposal.

Let me suggest a change he could endorse -- one that would empower consumers, expose health insurers to competition, and reduce medical premiums without the need for top-down compulsion: Allow Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance from any state.

Under existing law, any health-care policy sold in Massachusetts must be issued by a company licensed to sell insurance in Massachusetts, and must comply with all of the state's regulatory conditions. These include "guaranteed issue" and "community rating" rules, which require insurers to offer coverage to any eligible applicant regardless of pre-existing conditions, gender, or health status -- and to charge all customers similar premiums, even if they pose very different risks to the insurance pool. The effect, of course, is to drive premiums upward for the young and healthy, who are left paying far too much for insurance -- and with an incentive to drop that insurance until they get sick.

Compounding the problem, Massachusetts (like other states) requires all health-insurance consumers to purchase a multiplicity of benefits they may not want. According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, Massachusetts law mandates coverage of 47 specific benefits, including alcoholism treatment, contraceptives, hairpieces, in-vitro fertilization, chiropractic treatment, and speech therapy. Any of these benefits may be valuable to someone who needs them, but bundling all of them into every health-care policy sold in Massachusetts drives up premiums for everybody.

Reasonable people can disagree on whether health-insurance in Massachusetts is over- or under-regulated. Certainly 47 mandated benefits seem moderate compared to the 60 that are required in Texas, or the 69 in Rhode Island. On the other hand, Hawaii imposes only 23 mandates, and Idaho only 13.

Why not let consumers decide for themselves what price and coverage standards they want? Romney opposes the federal health-care overhaul on the grounds that it amounts to a "one-size-fits-all federal takeover." So it does -- but insurance-licensing laws amount to a one-size-fits-all straitjacket at the state level. They leave consumers with fewer choices. They protect the handful of health insurers that dominate each state from outside competition (in Massachusetts, three companies -- Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, and Tufts -- control 85 percent of the market for individual and small-group insurance.) And they leave lawmakers and regulators free to impose costs on insurance purchasers who have no option of taking their business elsewhere.

Romney should lead an effort to create such an option. He should promote legislation that would allow Massachusetts residents to purchase any health insurance policy that is properly licensed in any other state, and for that policy to be enforced according to that state's laws. If you like Massachusetts-style health-insurance regulation, you would shop for a health plan here. But those looking for more affordable coverage -- or for even more mandated benefits -- would be free to buy a policy from any licensed insurer in the country.

Opening the Massachusetts health-insurance market to nationwide competition would be a boon for consumers. It would force local quasi-monopolies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, to compete harder on price -- without having regulators twist arms or control premiums. It would make RomneyCare more palatable to more voters. And it would give Beacon Hill some real-world evidence of the level of regulation Massachusetts citizens actually prefer.

Is this a panacea? No. Nor would it substitute for genuine national reform, such as de-linking health care from employment. But it would be a change for the better, leaving Massachusetts improved, and other states with a model to emulate. "Some things I'd change," Romney says. This would make a good start.

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

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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