Barry is a Senior Economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, one of the most influential think tanks in America today.
The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. Topics include reforms in health care, taxes, Social Security, welfare, criminal justice, education and environmental regulation.
NCPA Motto - Making Ideas Change the World - reflects the belief that ideas have enormous power to change the course of human events. The NCPA seeks to unleash the power of ideas for positive change by identifying, encouraging, and aggressively marketing the best scholarly research.
Daily Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Daily Policy Digest
- Just 3 Percent of Colleges Require Students to Take Economics
- 17 Oct 2014 07:00:58 CDT -
In its sixth annual study of curriculum at 1,098 colleges and universities in the United States, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni reports some staggering facts about college course requirements:
- Just 18 percent of schools require students to take an American history class to graduate.
- Only 13 percent of schools require a foreign language.
- A miniscule 3 percent of schools require students to take a course in economics before receiving their degrees.
One of the worst-performing schools was Whittier College in California. The school (one of 98 in the survey that scored an F) required only one course -- composition -- while having no requirements for literature, foreign language, government, history, economics, math or science. Defending the school's program was Sean Morris, chairman of Whittier's English department. According to Morris, "We don't mandate every single student take a class in American history…so you may find a senior not knowing the specifics of the New Deal. But you will graduate knowing how to think and how to accumulate that knowledge and make connections between things."
Brown University, an Ivy League school, also earned an F.
The study's authors reported just three years ago that 70 percent of Americans believed that colleges should require basic classes in core subjects such as history or math.
Source: Douglas Belkin, "Study Finds Many Colleges Don't Require Core Subjects Like History, Government," Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2014.
For more on Education Issues:
- Sixty Percent of Americans in Poverty Not Working
- 17 Oct 2014 07:00:57 CDT -
The Census Bureau recently released a report on income and poverty, making clear that Americans continue to struggle, despite the Great Recession having ended five years ago. In fact, many Americans were much better off in 2000 than they were in 2013. Robert Doar of the American Enterprise Institute lays out the facts regarding Americans' flat -- or falling -- incomes:
- Median household income did not improve between 2012 and 2013. Adjusting for inflation, income is actually $4,000 less than it was in 2007 and $5,000 less than it was in 1999.
- Poverty is up, two percentage points above its 2007 level and 3.2 percentage points above its level in 2000. For three years in a row, more than 45 million Americans have been in poverty.
- The effect is especially pronounced among single-parent families. Just 9.5 percent of children in families of married couples were in poverty in 2013, compared to 46 percent of children in single parent families headed by the mother.
For black Americans, the situation is even worse:
- The poverty rate for blacks is at 27.2 percent, 4.7 percentage points higher than it was in 2000.
- Black household median income was $34,598 in 2013, lower than any other racial group and 13.8 percent ($6,000) below its 2000 level.
Americans need jobs, says Doar, explaining the link between poverty and employment:
- Of those who work full time during a year, only 2.8 percent are in poverty.
- More than 60 percent of Americans classified as being in poverty did not work even one full week in 2013.
America's welfare programs, he says, are not acting as "work supports" for those in low-wage jobs, rather as replacement income for those not participating in the labor force.
Source: Robert Doar, "Where's the outrage?" American Enterprise Institute, October 14, 2014.
For more on Economic Issues:
- How Do Health Savings Accounts Work under Obamacare?
- 17 Oct 2014 07:00:56 CDT -
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are savings accounts that allow the holder to deposit money, tax free, into an account whose funds are intended to be used for medical expenses. HSAs are only available to Americans who have a high-deductible health plan (which, in 2014, meant a deductible of $1,250). Enrollees can make deposits into their HSAs and use the funds to cover unexpected health costs.
Health Savings Accounts are considered a "consumer-driven" health care reform, meaning that they put the consumer in charge of his own health care spending. The idea is that an individual spending his own money will be more frugal than an individual spending another person's money (in the case of health care spending, the other person is an insurance company). That idea has proven true in empirical studies. A major health study conducted by the RAND Corporation from 1971 to 1986 found that an increase in cost-sharing up to 25 perfect reduced spending by 20 percent.
Manhattan Institute fellows Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman have released a new study on HSAs and how the accounts are impacted by Obamacare:
- The Affordable Care Act disadvantages HSAs by requiring plans to offer certain essential health benefits and have an actuarial value of 60 percent (meaning that the insurance plan must cover at least 60 percent of costs).
- Such reforms limit the ability of a person to exchange high premiums for a high deductible.
- Additionally, the ACA prevents the use of HSA funds to pay for over-the-counter medicines and raises the penalty if a person uses HSA funds to cover non-medical costs.
Despite these changes, Howard and Feyman write that HSAs are still good options for consumers, and one-quarter of all health plans on the exchanges are HSA-eligible plans. The authors offer a number of reforms that could improve HSAs and enlighten consumers as to their advantages, including:
- Plans on the exchanges that are HSA-eligible are often not marked as such. Identifying HSA plans would improve access to them.
- Additionally, the authors suggest that the exchanges provide a "cost calculator" that would allow consumers to compare costs and savings between HSA and non-HSA plans.
- Lawmakers could do away with the many regulations concerning HSA eligibility and make plans with qualifying deductibles automatically eligible for an HSA. Or, Howard and Feyman suggest making any plan with an actuarial value below 70 percent automatically HSA-eligible.
Howard and Feynman write that increased use of HSAs can do much to control health care costs. Indeed, the NCPA has published extensive research on this subject. As Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara has written, HSA plans cost 25 percent less than traditional health insurance plans and have annual cost increases that are more than 50 percent less than traditional insurance.
Source: Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman, "Health Savings Accounts under the Affordable Care Act: Challenges and Opportunities for Consumer-Directed Health Plans," Manhattan Institute, October 2014.
For more on Health Issues:
- More Higher-Income Students Taking Out Loans
- 17 Oct 2014 07:00:55 CDT -
2012 broke records for student borrowing, as more than two-thirds (69 percent) of college students had taken out loans to pay for their college educations. Not only was the rate of borrowing staggeringly high, but students had borrowed, on average, an amount more than twice as high as graduates borrowed just two decades ago.
According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, the increase in the borrowing rate is largely linked to students from higher income families:
- In 2012, half of college graduates from high-income families had taken out loans, twice as many as in 1992.
- Sixty-two percent of 2012 college graduates from upper-middle-income households had student loan debt in 2012. Two decades ago, that figure was just 34 percent.
Still, the report notes that students from low-income families are most likely to graduate with student loans.
Source: Richard Fry, "The Changing Profile of Student Borrowers," Pew Research Center, October 7, 2014.
For more on Education Issues:
- Greece Experiments with Minimum Guaranteed Income
- 17 Oct 2014 07:00:54 CDT -
Recently, some policymakers have begun to discuss the idea of a "minimum guaranteed income," which some refer to as a "negative income tax" or a "basic income guarantee."
Supporters vary in their view of what exactly a guaranteed income would mean and accomplish. Some on the right side of the spectrum, explains Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason.com, believe such a plan could replace all of America's current welfare programs (from food stamps to Social Security) with a single program that would distribute funds to all Americans -- even those who are not low-income -- to use according to their own discretion.
But Greece's plan is different. Not only is it focused only on low-income individuals, but it does nothing to replace the state's welfare system. Instead, it provides a cash benefit in addition to all of Greece's other welfare programs. It would work like this:
- For six months, Greece will experiment with a minimum guaranteed income in 13 municipalities.
- Those participating in the program will receive at least 200 euros every month.
- Households will receive an additional 100 euros for every additional adult in the household, while every child will give the household 50 euros per month.
The country's Labour Minister, Yiannis Vroutsis, called the guaranteed income program "the pillar of the social solidarity of tomorrow."
Source: Elizabeth Nolan Brown, "Greece to Test Minimum Guaranteed Income Program," Reason.com, October 15, 2014.
For more on Tax and Spending Issues:
- CON Laws Limit Patients' Access to Life-Saving Exams
- 16 Oct 2014 07:00:53 CDT -
States should be itching to get state-of-the-art medical devices into their hospitals, but 36 states have laws on the books that keep new and improved equipment, as well as new hospitals, out. Thomas Stratmann, economics professor at George Mason University, and attorney Darpana M. Sheth explain how they work.
Certificate-of-need (CON) laws exist in a majority of U.S. states. In short, they prohibit health care providers from offering new services or new medical equipment without approval from the state. Unless a proposal can show that an area needs the proposed equipment or services, it is unlikely to be approved.
The idea behind the laws was that they would cut costs and lead health facilities to provide more charity care. Many existing hospitals and facilities have rallied behind these laws, as they serve to keep competition out of the marketplace. Other supporters claim that the laws keep costs down by reducing duplicative equipment and services in an area that, they contend, might have no need for it.
CON laws do not work this way in the real world, explain Strattmann and Sheth; they leave areas with fewer hospitals and fewer hospital beds than they would otherwise have, and areas with CON laws are slower to adopt new medical technology. As for charity care, a study from the Mercatus Center confirms that the laws only raise costs and do nothing to provide additional services for low-income patients.
Sheth is an attorney for Dr. Mark Baumel, a physician who sought to open medical facilities in the state of Virginia that would offer "virtual colonoscopies" -- a new medical imaging technology that is less expensive and less invasive than a traditional colonoscopy. (A virtual colonoscopy, Stratmann and Sheth note, is what President Obama had during his own physical exam.) Unfortunately, despite the procedure being recommended by the American College of Radiology -- and despite 50,000 Americans dying from preventable colon cancer every year -- Americans across the country lack access to the procedure thanks to CON laws.
Source: Thomas Stratmann and Darpana M. Sheth, "Health Care Cartels Limit Americans' Options," USA Today, October 14, 2014.
For more on Health Issues:
Health Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Consumer Driven Health Care
- Health Care Reform Tax Will Hurt Franchisees
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - When the employer mandates go into effect in 2014, many franchised businesses will be motivated to reduce the number of locations and move workers from full-time to part-time status...
REAL CLEAR MARKETS
- Saving Jobs from Health Reform's Harmful Regulations
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - If the rate of health care cost growth had not exceeded general inflation, a typical family would have had $545 more per month in spendable income instead of $95 -- a difference of $5,400 per year...
- Does Health Insurance and Seeing the Doctor Keep You Out of the Hospital?
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - Gaining health insurance and using more primary care services leads to more hospitalizations as a result of physicians' discretionary decisions regarding aggressive and intensive treatment...
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
- The Case for Competition in Medicare
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - A well-functioning marketplace would set in motion the forces needed to transform American medical care into a model of efficient patient-centered care...
- Potential Effect of Health Care Reform on Emergency Department Utilization Not Clear
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - In 2010, 71 percent of emergency physicians said that they expected emergency department visits to increase due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act...
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE
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