Individual Mandate and Risk Pools

Louise Radnofsky and Stephanie Armour had a piece in The Wall Street Journal that looked at the small and shrinking impact of removing the Individual Mandate (or more accurately, removing the penalty Supreme Court-created tax imposed for not satisfying the IM) on the health coverage providing industry.  The piece is worth the read, but there was one remark quoted at the end that wants a particular look.

“Making the risk pool stable is a vital part” of keeping individual insurance premiums in line with the overall cost to cover a person insured through a larger group or employer, said Andy Slavitt, a top health official in the Obama administration.

Minimum Wage in San Francisco

City Supervisor Jane Kim, in a recent Letter to the Wall Street Journal Editor sang huzzahs for the city’s $15/hr minimum wage and touted a tax on robots that were replacing those low-skilled workers priced out of the labor market by that minimum wage.

The minimum wage isn’t a pathway to the middle class; it is a safety net to prevent destitution.

And

[A] “robot tax” is a practical way to smooth the transitions caused by automation….

She’s wrong.

I’m sure the robots and kiosks that are replacing those low-skilled workers appreciate being saved from destitution.

Obeying the Law

In a piece about President Donald Trump’s domestic business policies—specifically, his administration’s lawsuit to block the merger of AT&T with Time Warner Inc and his parallel move to facilitate other kinds of close relationships between companies like AT&T and Time Warner, The Wall Street Journal described a rationale for these apparently conflicting moves: follow existing law, rather than piling on regulation after regulation to govern (new) behaviors.

[T]he actions reveal one consistency, and what might be viewed as an emerging Trump administration regulatory philosophy: instead of new bright-line rules, such as those put in place under the Obama administration, it is stressing the enforcement of longstanding laws and regulations.

Baristas, Bikinis, and Harvey Weinstein

Everett, WA, has passed two ordinances that presume to define “lewd” behavior and forces employees to stop wearing bikinis on the job or otherwise showing “too much” skin.  Everett, it seems, has too many coffee shops that employee bikini-clad baristas to suit the prim town fathers.

After all, they claim,

The skin-flaunting coffee servers could turn men into the next Harvey Weinstein.

This is just projection.  These Liberals, with their two ordinances, confess their weakness of character, their own lack of morality, their own inability to resist temptation, and they insultingly assume that all of us are as weak, amoral, and temptation-accepting as they are.

PRC Censorship

…is reaching into other nations to deprecate their free speech.

Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at Australia’s Charles Sturt University has written a book, Silent Invasion, that details the breadth of influence the People’s Republic of China has achieved within Australia.  His publisher, Allen & Unwin, has decided to “delay” release of the book because the PRC is threatening “defamation action” against the publisher.

What defamation, exactly (and how does a private citizen defame a foreign government, anyway)?  Hamilton says his book is

“very factual, very deeply researched,”…the “first comprehensive national study of Beijing’s program of exerting influence on another nation.”

Death Panels?

The Affordable Care Act required Medicare to penalize hospitals with high numbers of heart failure patients who returned for treatment shortly after discharge. New research shows that penalty was associated with fewer readmissions, but also higher rates of death among that patient group.

Because sometimes readmission is necessary for quality care—whether that readmission was driven by later complications, by too-soon original discharge in the Medicare (which is to say Government) pressure to hold down costs first, or by some other factor—but that Government pressure to push the patient out the door also pushes against the patient’s return.  Even when necessary.

Mao is Dead

Long live Mao.

People’s Republic of China’s newly crowned Emperor and President-for-Life Xi Jinping has mounted his throne and is starting to exercise his power.

Under Mr Xi’s orders, mandatory political-study sessions emphasizing his speeches and policies were revived for all party members.

And

So was the Mao-era practice of members criticizing others and themselves.

Can we look forward to reeducation camps, too?  Maybe.  Here’s Xi on necessary fervor and “right thinking:”

We must continue to rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the party’s fabric[.]

And

Obamacare Subsidies

Recall that under Obamacare, health coverage plan providers are required to subsidize low-income Americans (who, under Obamacare, are required to buy the plans regardless of need for the plans on offer or ability to pay the vig for them) for their costs in buying those health coverage plans.  Recall further that the Obama administration paid those plan providers monies to reimburse them for those government-mandated subsidy payouts.  Recall also that Congress never appropriated any funds for the purpose of making those payments to the plan providers.  Finally, recall that a DC District court ruled those payments to the health plan providers illegal—because Congress had not appropriated any funds for the purpose.  Then the Trump administration ceased those payments to the health plan providers.

Mobile Encryption is a Huge Problem

That’s the position of FBI Director Christopher Wray.

To put it mildly, this [mobile device encryption] is a huge, huge problem.  It impacts investigations across the board.

Certainly, consumer-done encryption of our communications devices can temporarily hinder investigations of the criminals who also use this encryption.  But as the FBI demonstrated regarding an encrypted cell phone involved in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, its initial claims notwithstanding, the encryption can be broken without the cooperation of the device’s owner.

Health Plan Providers Are Concerned

These providers, which surprisingly The Wall Street Journal misapprehends as insurers, are bracing for a drop in enrollment in the ongoing health plan provision program “turmoil.”  There’s this key passage in the article at the link:

[M]any firms say they expect to lose consumers who will bear the full brunt of the rate increases—those who aren’t eligible for the health law’s premium subsidies, which help enrollees with annual incomes of less than around $48,000.