A Kentucky senator talks Obamacare repeal

Rand Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator, recently explained his stance on the Senate’s healthcare bill. While acknowledging that he is part of a “team” in the Republican party, Paul stands on principles rather than blindly submitting to the party. Paul’s convictions led him to stand against the Senate’s Obamacare “repeal” bill. Paul explains that rather than repealing Obamacare, it keeps:

  • “the majority of Obamacare taxes,”
  • 10 out of 12 “major Obamacare regulations,”
  • “unsustainable expansion of Medicaid,”
  • insurance subsidies using taxpayer money, and
  • a “$200 billion bailout” of insurance companies.

This particular legislation is failing in the Senate, leaving an opening for real change. Actually repealing the Affordable Care Act would result in benefits not only for the nation in general but for Kentucky in particular.

Bluegrass Beacon: Control costs, make health care great again

BluegrassBeaconLogoThe latest RINO to lose is the Repeal In Name Only health-care bill – also known officially as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – meant to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

To paraphrase Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, what’s the point in replacing a program that subsidizes, taxes, punishes and practices conniving cronyism with a policy that promises a “refundable tax credit” (subsidizes), financially castigates those with good insurance (taxes), forces individuals who allow their coverage to drop to pay 30 percent more to insurance companies just to get reinstated (punishes) and props up insurance companies with $100 million of “reinsurance” funding (conniving cronyism)?

Nothing offered by Washington in either of these approaches effectively addresses the primary culprit in the current health-care fiasco: cost.

Forcing insurers, for example, to cover an array of 10 “essential health benefits” – from maternity care to mental health and drug abuse – greatly drives up the cost of premiums for everyone.

Why, for example, is a 65-year-old man forced to purchase a health-insurance plan that includes maternity coverage?

Such mandates drive up the cost of his plan, and, depending on his financial status, may require a taxpayer-provided handout to help him afford the premium, making him dependent on government to pay for his insurance that includes coverage for services he neither wants nor needs.

If we’re going to include government subsidies in our health-insurance policy, why don’t we at least do it in a way that actually helps some folks truly in need without penalizing everyone else?

Supporters fear getting rid of Obamacare would result in really sick people with longstanding illnesses being left without access to adequate coverage.

It doesn’t have to be that way if privately run high-risk pools are allowed as part of any “replacement” agreement.

Just like swimmers “share” the pool’s water, so participants with preexisting health conditions divvy up coverage costs.

Since participants in such a plan offer a much higher risk of filing claims and using health-care services, premiums will be higher than those of healthy consumers in the individual market.

Government can intervene in a limited manner by providing subsidies to people in these pools that help bridge the gap between lower incomes and higher premiums.

Taking this approach reveals a stark contrast between a safety-net program and sledgehammer-to-an-ant approach that happens when government tries to run the entire health-care system.

It’s the distinction between offering food stamps to low-income individuals to purchase their groceries versus government running the grocery stores.

Witness the disaster known as “Section 8 housing” and understand: there’s a considerable difference between government offering housing vouchers to assist lower-income citizens in finding a place in the private marketplace to rent and the demonstrated public-housing debacle found in cities in the commonwealth and across the nation.

Such a policy would help folks with preexisting conditions engage in their own care as they shop to find a plan that works best for them – the process of which will expose them to what their coverage truly costs and the care they can expect to receive.

Neither the ACA nor the ACHA does much of anything to engage individuals – with or without preexisting conditions – in their own care, especially when it comes to knowing the cost of products like prescription drugs or services such as surgeries.

The combination of consumers not knowing anything about the price tag of their care while government mandates products and services insurers must provide and then turns around and subsidizes them offers little incentive to providers to control costs – the primary obstacle to making America’s health-care system great again.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Read previous columns at www.bipps.org. He can be reached at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com and @bipps on Twitter.

Bluegrass Beacon — Regulating’s first rule: Help, don’t harm

BluegrassBeaconLogoAmericans of all political persuasions want safe working conditions, clean air and unpolluted water.

But reform is clearly needed when government begins to regulate for the sake of regulating, and when doing so harms – even endangers – those citizens it’s called to protect.

For example, while the Food and Drug Administration was created to help safeguard the food supply and ensure reasonable protocols for drug safety, it too often uses its regulatory power to shield monopolizing companies from competition, which can block the path to lifesaving generic drugs.

Competition, on the other hand, reduces costs and increases access to many groundbreaking drugs and medical miracles.

It’s been just the opposite with EpiPen, a lifesaving anti-allergic reaction device, the cost of which has risen from $60 a few years ago to now $600 for a pack of two, even though the epinephrine included in the EpiPen costs less than $10 to manufacture.

This price tag forces some to ask: “Are we going to pay the mortgage or ensure our kids have this life-saving drug available should they get stung by a bee or suffer some other potentially fatal allergic reaction?”

Drastic choices like this could be avoided if regulators remained true to the fact that their agencies were created to help, not harm.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in a speech on the United States Senate floor recently highlighted the Clean Water Act as an example of the morphing of well-intended regulations that protect against the discharge of pollutants in navigable streams into job-killing “monsters that emerged from the toxic swamp of big-government bureaucrats at the EPA.”

Paul pummeled courts and regulators who “came to decide that dirt was a pollutant and your backyard just might have nexus to a puddle which has a nexus to a ditch which was frequented by a migratory bird that might have flown from the ditch to the Great Lakes. Ergo, the EPA can now jail you for putting dirt on your own land.”

Such morphing is helped along by the lack of serious, consistent reevaluation of well-intentioned rules that originally served useful purposes but now are enforced only because they remain on the books.

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, whose Reaganesque reforms led to a dramatic economic turnaround in the Hoosier State, required proposals for new regulations to demonstrate favorable benefit-to-cost ratios and sunset provisions allowing reevaluation of their continuing usefulness every few years.

Daniels also demanded agencies search for an existing rule that could be updated before creating a new rule.

This approach could be helpful in Kentucky, where more than 3,500 of the 4,700 regulations in the regulatory code have never been reviewed.

Still, it’s rare for regulations – like taxes – to actually go away.

Instead, they swell to the point where the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates it now costs each American household $15,000 annually just to comply with federal regulations.

Plus, state regulatory codes too often emulate Washington by mutating into ugly opponents of individual liberty and economic growth.

According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, while the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations grew from 71,000 pages in 1975 to 178,000 pages in 2015, the Kentucky Administrative Regulations Service (KARS), as it’s known, grew by a whopping 250 percent in the last four decades – from just four volumes in 1975 to currently 14 books.

The commonwealth’s regulatory code has become so large that it takes 367 hours – reading 40 hours a week at a rate of 300 words per minute for nine weeks – just to read it.

Large, increasingly complicated regulatory codes make it difficult for businesses and citizens to comply, which ultimately defeats any positive purpose of regulation by reducing compliance and incentives to improve safety while increasing uncertainty and frustration.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute; Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.

News Alert: Monday’s town hall meeting at the National Corvette Museum: Right-to-work works for Kentucky communities


Right-to-Work logo

For Immediate Release: Friday, May 15                                                                

Contact: Jim Waters (270) 320-4376

(BOWLING GREEN, Ky.) — Join the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, and several other national and statewide groups and representatives at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green (Exit 28 @ I-65) on Monday, May 18, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (central) for a town hall meeting on the local right-to-work movement.

“In an effort to accomplish what the political gridlock in Frankfort has thwarted, local officials in several counties have passed their own right-to-work laws in a bipartisan manner for the good of their constituents,” Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters said. “Right-to-work policies attract businesses and grow economies by giving individual workers the freedom to say ‘no’ to union membership without losing their jobs.”

Monday’s event, which is being hosted by the Americans for Tax Reform’s Center for Worker Freedom, will include a panel discussion of lawmakers and experts to assist workers, business owners, manager and all Kentuckians interested in learning more about how right-to-work policies work and how employees can exercise their freedoms concerning union membership and dues.

“What Kentucky counties have done is only the beginning of a nationwide movement by local governments to advance their own prosperity and freedom by bypassing the gridlock in their state capitals, Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, said. “This path to right-to-work is open in many states, but Kentucky’s strong and very clear home rule statute made it the best place to begin this effort.”

Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, will lead the panel discussion, which will include Ron Bunch, president and CEO of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, and Jon Crosby, field representative for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Louisville attorney Jason Nemes of Fultz Maddox Dickens PLC, co-counsel for Hardin County in UAW v. Hardin County will address the legal rationale for county right-to-work policies.

Since Warren County’s Fiscal Court on December 19 voted overwhelmingly to become America’s first-right-to-work county, Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon reported that the community now has made it on the site-selection lists of around 50 companies looking to expand or relocate. These companies represent more than 5,000 new jobs and more than $800 million in capital investment.

Bluegrass Institute applauds Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster

Statement from the Bluegrass Institute on Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster:

The Bluegrass Institute stands with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on his successful filibuster on the floor of the United States Senate. A vigorous debate is needed concerning the future of drone warfare that could be used to target and kill Americans without a trial by jury and launch an assault on our individual liberties – freedoms that the Bluegrass Institute was founded and works every day to advance.

Healthy debate concerning issues as serious as our individual liberty and God-granted right to life as protected by the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution is worthy of such spirited attention and deserves much more debate than the Obama administration has encouraged or allowed.  

Sen. Paul’s historic use of the filibuster demonstrates the best use of American political traditions to protect the voice and rights of the minority. All Americans should be thankful for Sen. Paul’s voice for liberty in our nation’s capital.

We stand proudly with Sen. Paul, and thank him for his support of the Bluegrass Institute in 2003, and for his continuing, important and impassioned stand for liberty in Washington.

For comment, contact Bluegrass Institute President Jim Waters at (270) 320-4376 or jwaters@freedomkentucky.com