“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”

– How to Write Effective Letters to the Editor

By Rich Tucker

Television and radio appearances are great ways to get your organization’s message across. But getting on the air means getting past a series of bookers and producers.

Why not consider writing a letter to the editor, as a faster way to get your message out, particularly in responding to an article or editorial? But before you sit down to write, review a few simple rules.

First, decide why you’re writing. Is your topic in the news? Did the paper run a story you agreed with, or disagreed with? Or are you simply trying to educate readers about your position? It will be a lot easier to get your piece published if you can tie it to a recent story, event or newspaper editorial.

Above article is quoted from The Heritage Foundation, The Insider November/December 2002, www.heritage.org.

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– What to do About Increased Uninsured in Health Care

By Raymond J. Keating

In the fantasyland known as politics, too many elected officials try to wish away the laws of economics. Indeed, replacing economic facts with political fiction is a favorite tactic when it comes to health care policymaking.

However, even in the health care arena, economics cannot be ignored. For example, basic economics makes clear that more government mandates and regulations result in higher costs. In contrast, market competition restrains costs and boosts quality. These economic fundamentals need to be remembered as we look at some new statistics just released by the federal government.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that the number of Americans without health insurance increased by 1.4 million to 41.2 million in 2001. Meanwhile, the IRS also just released new information pointing out that 73 percent of Americans who purchased medical savings accounts (MSAs) in 2001 were previously uninsured for six months or more.

Regarding the larger number of uninsured, Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of the American Association of Health Plans, observed: “”There can be no doubt that the destructive factors that have driven health care costs higher — runaway litigation, government mandates and regulation, diminished market competition and fraudulent billing practices — have now exacted an unsustainable cost on the 1.4 million additional people who have been priced out of the system.” She added, “A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers reveals just how costly these trends are: Additional spending in 2001 resulting from litigation, mandates and fraud and abuse totaled $18 billion — enough to have insured 6.8 million more Americans.”

Merrill Matthews, director of Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI), struck a similar note. He said: “The number of uninsured is growing and Congress and the state legislatures are largely to blame. Beginning with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, which required insurers to accept any small employer who applies for coverage, Congress and state governments have tried to impose more and more restrictions and regulations on health insurance. As a result, the price of health insurance has risen significantly for the past four years, which means more people go uninsured.”

Ignagni and Matthews are absolutely correct. Increased regulation and more mandates — no matter how well intentioned they might be — inevitably increase costs. Consider the effects of two prominent regulatory steps taken in the states in recent years — guaranteed issue and community rating.

Guaranteed issue basically means that individuals may not be turned down for health insurance coverage no matter the condition of their health. So, incentives for people to purchase health insurance before they become ill are removed. Community rating requires that insurers charge the same price for everyone in a defined region regardless their varying health care risks. So, no matter the risks involved, everybody pays the same price for insurance. The results were completely predictable – much higher insurance costs, and fewer insured individuals. The officials who instituted these measures simply chose to ignore economic reality in order to pander politically.

Meanwhile, SBSC chairman Karen Kerrigan noted about the new Census Bureau and IRS statistics: “These figures prove that MSAs are one of the few proposals that will reduce health-care costs, and insure the uninsured.”

MSAs combine a traditional high-deductible, catastrophic insurance policy and a tax-exempt savings account, or MSA. Consumers use the funds deposited tax free in their MSA to pay for routine medical care. If they have a year with high medical expenses, use up all the funds in their account and reach their deductible, then the catastrophic insurance policy kicks in to pay remaining medical bills. If they have a year with minimal medical expenses, then they keep the funds left in the account and the interest earned.

MSAs offer tremendous benefits. For example, the individual has control over the funds in his account. Patients and their health care providers make medical decisions, not some distant bureaucrat.

Also, MSAs present benefits for the entire health-care system and economy, as the problem of third-party payments is redressed. Currently, whether under an employer-provided health plan or a government program, consumers and health care providers have few incentives to be concerned about usage and prices because somebody else is picking up the tab. Hence, health care costs rise. However, with MSAs, the traditional buyer-seller relationship in the marketplace is re-established. Consumers and providers become concerned about costs. In addition, since the funds deposited in the MSA are the property of the individual, demand for services are not artificially juiced up.

Numerous restrictions on MSAs, though, have limited their expansion in the marketplace. Tax-free MSAs are a pilot project due to expire at the end of next year, and all consumers do not have access.

Just considering the IRS data regarding who is purchasing MSAs, their worth in the marketplace should be obvious. Congress needs to lift the many restrictions currently imposed on these accounts, and make them permanent.

What we desperately need when it comes to health-care policy is more clear economic thinking, and far less political fantasy. Make tax-free MSAs a viable choice for all consumers, deregulate, and let the market work.

Above article is quoted from Small Business Survival Committee, News & Features October 2, 2002, www.sbsc.org.

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“Governments are not easily induced to relinquish the powers they have obtained and are used to exercising. Politicians and bureaucrats do not relish yielding up the authority over our lives. Only a resolute populace determined to assert itself and claim its rights can prevail against them.” — Clarence B. Carson

”’See Web site”’ http://www.grassrootinstitute.org ”’for further information. Join its efforts at “Nurturing the rights and responsibilities of the individual in a civil society. …” or email or call Grassroot of Hawaii Institute President Richard O. Rowland at mailto:grassroot@hawaii.rr.com or (808) 487-4959.”’

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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards.