Health Plan Coverage and Contraception

The Wall Street Journal has noted that the Trump administration has taken regulatory action to reduce, if not eliminate (the Supreme Court still has to do its job vis-à-vis a Little Sisters of the Poor case, as does Congress legislatively, contra a short handful of Republicans who prefer Obamacare intact over any step toward getting rid of it), the requirement that health plan providers provide contraception to women at no cost to those women coverees and do so regardless of any question of conscience or religious tenet.

Naturally, Progressive-Democrats and the Left generally have their collective panties in a wedgie over that.  However, they carefully ignore certain inconvenient facts.

Two Health Insurance Markets?

The Wall Street Journal has misunderstood the situation and the proposal [emphasis added].

President Donald Trump’s executive order on health insurance, the most significant step so far to put his stamp on health policy, is designed to give more options to healthy consumers. It also could divide the insurance market in two.

What Trump is purportedly going to do with his Executive Order is

  • instruct[] federal agencies to loosen rules on health plans that the administration says have driven up premiums and reduced insurance offerings

Estate Tax and Tax Reform

Senate Republicans seem unable to understand this subject, also.

Others [Republicans] say their desire to eliminate the [estate] tax must be balanced against other priorities including tax cuts for businesses and middle-class families.

This is disingenuous. Eliminating the estate tax explicitly favors middle-class families and businesses: it’s the small businesses and farms that are owned by middle class families that are the most harmed by this death tax.

Aside from that is this piece of irrelevancy:

Estate tax repeal would reduce federal revenue by about $239 billion over the next decade, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Another Example

…of government regulatory failure.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which regulates, among other financial institutions, brokerage houses, has its own investment portfolio.  FINRA charges fees from those it regulates for their privilege of being regulated.  And

In years when FINRA’s fee revenue exceeds forecasts and investment gains are strong, the regulator can rebate fees paid by firms it regulates.

Investment gains are strong.  However, FINRA turns out to be a crappy investor, getting just two-thirds of the return since 2004, when the regulatory body’s investment portfolio was created, that a simple-minded standard portfolio mix of 50% each of bonds and stocks would have gotten in the same period.  Its return shortfall, 3.4% vs that standard portfolio’s 6%, is a real money shortfall: $440 million for a portfolio of $1.6 billion.

Some Early Thoughts on the Tax Reform Proposal

…triggered by Laura Saunders’ piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Beginning with the headline and thesis of her piece: Winners and Losers Under the Trump Tax Plan. Because Government should be about picking winners and losers instead of just protecting a level free market for all.  Sure.

Now a couple of specifics.

People with large medical or disaster deductions. Each of these write-offs on Schedule A has significant hurdles and is only available to taxpayers with large unreimbursed expenses

Hacks and Hack Disclosures

Equifax took six weeks to get around to bothering to tell us about it so we individual consumers could begin to take our own corrective and defensive action.  That’s unconscionable, Equifax isn’t alone in delaying telling us about hacks into personal information those companies are holding for us, and it’s giving impetus to legislation that would force companies to disclose such hacks much sooner.  One such proposed bill is Congressman Jim Langevin’s (D,RI) reintroduction of the Obama era’s Personal Data Notification and Protection Act.

Hacking

Germany has been struck by a wave of hackers from the People’s Republic of China as the PRC moves to steal from cutting-edge manufacturers.

The German government

is now moving to shield companies from state-backed hackers and criminal gangs, offering to pay to harden the defenses of Germany’s most vulnerable firms.

This is a start, but it’s insufficient.

Hacks like this, originating as they do from a fundamentally autocratic nation, can only be taken as state-sanctioned, if not outright -directed, as such they are overt acts of aggression, and so they require commensurately serious responses.

The Not Good Enough Legacy

Here are some stats regarding Obamacare’s impact on our poor, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.

More than one in three of taxed [via the individual mandate penalty] households earned less than $25,000, which is roughly the federal poverty line for a family of four.

And

More than 75% of penalized households made less than $50,000 and nine in 10 earned less than $75,000.

And

Fewer families paid the tax in 2015 than in 2014, yet government revenues increased to more than $3 billion from about $1.7 billion, as the financial punishment for lacking coverage increased.

Some Thoughts on Graham-Cassidy

These are…triggered…by Thursday’s Wall Street Journal piece on how the Graham-Cassidy Plan Would Change Health Coverage.

The Congressional Budget Office has said that, without a rule requiring insurers to charge all customers comparable premiums, health plans could become prohibitively expensive for some people with pre-existing conditions.

The plans wouldn’t be insurance plans, either, since the premiums wouldn’t have anything to do with the risk being transferred.  The plans would be welfare plans.

Separately, states could also waive a requirement that insurers provide a set of medical benefits like mental-health services and prescription-drug coverage. If those benefits aren’t required, people with costly medical conditions could have difficulty buying insurance with the relevant services or medications.

Raise Taxes, Don’t Lower Them

That’s what the European Commission says is the correct thing to do.

The European Commission said the EU should proceed with an overhaul of taxes on digital firms even if the rest of the rich world did not follow suit, a draft report said.

And to the point:

The document is part of an EU push to tap more revenues from online multinationals such as Amazon and Facebook, who are accused of paying too little tax in Europe by routing most of their profits to low-rate countries such as Ireland or Luxembourg.