Grassroot Perspective – March 21, 2003-Covering America: Real Remedies for the Uninsured, Volume 2; Health Insurance Tax Credits: Will They Work for Women?; Lasting Solutions Often the Hardest

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”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Covering America: Real Remedies for the Uninsured, Volume 2

By Tom Miller; David B. Kendall, Jeff Lemieux, and S. Robert Levine; James A. Morone

Economic and Social Research Institute, 12/02

Covering America promotes serious consideration of a diverse range of comprehensive proposals to provide affordable health coverage for millions of uninsured Americans.

Tom Miller of the Cato Institute proposes a reformed health care system that would promote efficiency and economy by redesigning market incentives, especially for individual consumers, as well as using tax credits and safety net reform to remove financial barriers to getting care. “Market-based reform begins with more neutral tax treatment of health insurance purchasing options, emphasis on protection against major risks, and deregulation of health care suppliers,” writes Miller.

David Kendall, Jeff Lemieux, and S. Robert Levine, of the Progressive Policy Institute, offer an option that builds on the present system, but provides substantial tax credits to make coverage more affordable. This plan includes performance-based grants to states linked to improvements in coverage rates, access to care, health care quality, outcomes, public health, and protection from financial hardship.

Full text:

– Health Insurance Tax Credits: Will They Work for Women?

By Sara R. Collins, Stephanie B. Berkson, and Deirdre A. Downey

The Commonwealth Fund, 12/02

A new study by The Commonwealth Fund reports researchers searched the Internet in 25 cities to find low-deductible, comprehensive health insurance for $1,000 to $1,500 a year. Not surprisingly, they found a wide range of options: $1,000 would buy a 35-year-old woman a policy in Nashville, Tennessee with a $5,000 deductible. In California, the same person could buy a policy with a $500 deductible — primarily revealing the distortions in the individual market caused by state regulation and mandates.

The apparent intent of the study is to discredit tax credits by showing they would be useless in helping low-income women afford coverage. But buried in the study is an admission that the tax credit would cover half the cost of the premium for a comprehensive, low-deductible policy in many of the cities studied.

Professor Mark Pauly of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School has produced studies showing providing a tax credit worth half the value of a decent health insurance policy would encourage half of those eligible for the credit to obtain insurance. If purchasers tolerated higher deductibles, even more could purchase coverage.

It is important to pay attention to the needs of the poorest and sickest uninsured. Studies like this one, which focus only on worst-case scenarios, distort the debate and could deny millions of people–many of them women–the opportunity to have the security of insurance coverage for themselves and their families.

Full text (pdf):

Above articles are quoted from Heartland Institute Health Care News February 2003 The Galen Report

”Root (Food for Thought)”

– Lasting Solutions Often the Hardest

By Paul T. Mero

What makes good public policy? The motivations of its authors, their objectives, the policy’s practicability, its broad support. Actually, the true measure of good public policy is all of these factors plus one — a lasting solution.

All of politics is typically governed by one primary objective: winning. A candidate runs for office to win, not lose. A legislator pushes a bill with an eye to passage, not defeat. A lobbyist is hired to get his client what he wants, not what his opponents want. And so on.

But make our primary policy objective to find a lasting solution to community problems and the whole dynamic of political interaction changes. The zero sum game disappears. Now the only “enemies” we have are those people who do not want a lasting solution. All of us still have our preferred opinions about specific policies and issues, only now an enlightened objective permits us to engage in real civil discourse.

This dichotomy between the political approach of winning and the civil approach of a lasting solution always appears most clearly during a legislative session. This session is no different, especially as it pertains to education and financial institutions. How do we find a lasting solution to our educational woes? Where is a lasting solution to the bitter fight between banks and credit unions?

Let’s look first at education. Currently on the table are several proposals intended to improve the quality of education in Utah. Clearly, all of these proposals are debatable and, in fact, are being hotly debated at this very moment. So, in determining good public policy, we ask: what are the motivations of its authors, what are their objectives, what is the policy’s practicability, and does it have broad public support? Now, a negative answer to any one of these questions does not, in and of itself, disqualify a proposal. After all, in the world of politics, opponents will go out of their way to create negative opinion (isn’t that a part of winning?).

But are any of these education proposals a lasting solution? Do any of them cut to the heart of disagreement and misunderstanding and attempt to find social unity on principle? For instance, do any of these education proposals address the fundamental question of educational authority? Who has the last say about how children are educated? Parents? The state? Business? Teachers unions? A lasting solution will first require us to answer these questions. Once answered, good public policy will flow easily.

On another front, the war between banks and credit unions provides an excellent opportunity to implement a lasting solution and achieve good public policy. It seems that at the heart of this conflict lies questions over motivations and objectives. Banks, it is projected, hate credit unions and vice versa. Actually, these industries are competitors – the marketplace does not recognize “hate.” People hate. And on that note, the personal hatred that exists in the hearts of individual participants can easily disappear overnight if they desire.

This nastiness is actually the least of our real problems in finding a lasting solution to their conflict. We are fortunate in this case that the combatants do not finalize solutions; they simply recommend and our legislature handles the rest. But we, too, can make recommendations.

The best lasting solution to the conflict between banks and credit unions is to abolish the corporate income tax. Not only would such a move disarm both sides of this fight it would also remove a burden that should not exist in the first place in a free society. We often hear the tax mantra of “simple, fair, and easy to collect.” This translates mostly into “it’s easy, the fair thing is to simply collect taxes from the other guy – especially if the ‘other guy’ isn’t even a guy, but an inanimate business.”

Abolishing the corporate income tax is based on two principles that people pay taxes and, more importantly in a representative democracy, people are the only ones who should pay taxes. Several negative effects and disincentives are created by the corporate income tax as highlighted in the bank/credit union dispute.

First, businesses begin to use resources to avoid paying taxes instead of building their businesses and creating jobs to benefit people. Second, in the effort to avoid paying taxes, the game of politics intensifies and government begins to grow. Third, market processes become less and less effective under these conditions and real people – working people – begin to get hurt. Fourth, corruption increases by leaps and bounds as businesses and government trade favors.

That public education depends on the corporate income tax in this state is a secondary issue and an issue that can be addressed separately by answering the central questions of educational authority and our budget priorities. Many ideologues who will insist that “corporate America pay its fair share to society,” whatever that means, might consider alternative ways for businesses to do that. Interestingly, many financial institutions are currently required to reinvest a certain amount of capital into city infrastructures in behalf of low-and moderate-income individuals. Why not ask more in this respect?

Lasting solutions to community problems do not come easy because they require us to settle on unifying principles of community and how we live together peaceably with our neighbors. Politics as usual is always easier – spend lots of money, call someone lots of names, spin lots of tales, and win, win, win at any cost!

Paul T. Mero is President of The Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based public policy research institute.

Above article is quoted from Sutherland Institute “To The Point” February 2003

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“Strategy and operations, therefore, go hand in hand; they are opposite sides of the same coin. Daily choices actually create a de facto vision.” — Harry E. Teasley, Jr., Chairman, Reason Foundation

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’