NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis
NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis
Barry is a Senior Economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, one of the most influential think tanks in America today.

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. Topics include reforms in health care, taxes, Social Security, welfare, criminal justice, education and environmental regulation.

NCPA Motto - Making Ideas Change the World - reflects the belief that ideas have enormous power to change the course of human events. The NCPA seeks to unleash the power of ideas for positive change by identifying, encouraging, and aggressively marketing the best scholarly research.




Daily Policy Digest

Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/ NCPA

Daily Policy Digest

Federal Court Rules for Property Owners in Endangered Species Act Case
24 Nov 2014 07:00:58 CDT -

The Utah prairie dog -- a specific prairie dog species only found in the state of Utah -- is considered "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), despite that there are 40,000 Utah prairie dogs in the state, reports Ron Arnold for the Daily Signal.

The "threatened" designation places severe land use restrictions on property owners. The designation creates an especially serious problem in Utah, as prairie dogs have become a menace. In Cedar City, the rodents have overrun the town, torn up farmland and even destroyed an airport runway. And according to Derek Morton of the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners (PETPO), areas overrun with the animals struggle to attract new development to the area, because prairie dog removal costs are too high. The animals also carry a strain of plague that can be transmitted to humans.

Property owners have struggled, because the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) ordered that property owners could not "harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect" the prairie dogs. So, PETPO sued the FWS for violating its property rights, and -- for the first time in ESA history - a federal court struck down the ESA regulation as going beyond federal power. The plaintiffs argued that the federal government had no authority under the Commerce Clause -- which allows for regulation of interstate commerce -- to regulate a species that exists purely in one state, and the judge agreed.

Now, the state of Utah is overseeing prairie dog management. The animal is still protected, but landowners can file for a permit to kill or remove the rodents.

Source: Ron Arnold, "For Once, a Court Sided With People Rather Than ‘Threatened' Rodents," Dailysignal.com, November 18, 2014.

For more on Environment Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/?Article_Category=31

Administration Adds Dental Plans to Its Obamacare Numbers
24 Nov 2014 07:00:57 CDT -

How many people signed up for Obamacare? While the administration in September said that 7.3 million had gotten insurance coverage through the exchanges (down from the 8 million that were reported in May), that 7.3 million figure included people who had signed up for dental -- not health insurance -- plans. Dental plans had not previously been included in government estimates. According to Alex Wayne at Bloomberg News, subtracting those dental subscribers brings the total number of insured down to 6.7 million.

The Obama administration had set of a goal of 7 million sign-ups.

Republicans with the House Committee on Oversight discovered that dental plans were included in the administration's figures when they noticed that some plans were reporting low premiums and often weren't receiving tax credits (dental plans, explains Wayne, do not receive tax credits unless they are also part of a health plan).

Why has enrollment fallen from the original 8 million figure? Some enrollees never paid their premiums to begin with, while other have stopped paying after a few months. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight, does not think the administration mistakenly added dental plans to its 7.3 million estimate, calling it a "concerted effort to obscure a heavy drop-out rate of perhaps a million or more enrollees by quietly adding in dental plan sign-ups to exchange numbers."

Source:  Alex Wayne, "Obamacare Sign-Ups Were Inflated With Dental Plans," Bloomberg News, November 20, 2014. 

For more on Health Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/?Article_Category=16

Fact Check: Will Keystone Oil Stay in the United States?
24 Nov 2014 07:00:56 CDT -

President Obama has criticized the proposed Keystone XL pipeline for a number of reasons, one of which involves where the oil will go: will it be sold to refiners in the United States, or will it be shipped abroad? While the president claims the pipeline will only provide a path for Canada to ship its oil overseas, Lauren Carroll at Politifact says that's not the case: the oil will be bought and used in America.

The oil shipped from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico via the pipeline would be crude oil, not refined oil. While the United States exports refined oil such as gasoline, it is a crude oil importer. American refineries, says Carroll, are located along the Keystone XL route, and U.S. refineries already get more oil from Canada than they do from other countries. Refineries in the upper Midwest as well as Texas are in need of crude oil and currently have to import it from nations such as Venezuela. Were they able to purchase Canada's crude, it would be cheaper, says Carroll.

She also notes that the State Department has reported that it would not make economic sense for Canada to export its Keystone oil to other nations.

Source: Lauren Carroll, "Obama says Keystone XL is for exporting oil outside the U.S., experts disagree," Politifact, November 20, 2014.

For more on Environment Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/?Article_Category=31

A Simple Way States Can Cut Their Medicaid Rolls
24 Nov 2014 07:00:55 CDT -

There's a simple way to reduce Medicaid spending, says Merrill Matthews, resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation. Just by reevaluating who was on their state's welfare rolls, Illinois and Pennsylvania were able to remove hundreds of thousands of people from their Medicaid programs, saving taxpayers a great deal of money.

Illinois had a Medicaid funding shortfall of $2.7 billion in 2013, and it was struggling to keep its program funded. So, lawmakers passed the SMART Act, which created a "redetermination" program -- a program that would reevaluate whether the people on the state's Medicaid rolls were still eligible. Matthews explains that after examining 1.3 million Medicaid case files covering 2.7 million people, the state removed 234,000 people from its Medicaid rolls in February 2014. Since then, the state has continued its redetermination program, having removed 173,469 people from the program between February and September. There were 8,000 dead people on the state's rolls, in addition to people who no longer qualified for the program for various reasons.

Pennsylvania embarked upon a similar initiative to tackle Medicaid and other welfare programs. After a year and a half, the state had removed 220,000 people from its welfare programs, resulting in a savings of $710 million.

Cleaning up Medicaid rolls is especially important today, as the program is growing rapidly, with enrollment having increased 15 percent since October 2013. Matthews explains that states that expanded their Medicaid programs are seeing even higher growth, and 10 states have seen growth of 30 percent.

Source: Merrill Matthews, "How Two States Cut Medicaid and Saved Money," Institute for Policy Innovation, November 17, 2014. 

For more on Health Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/?Article_Category=16

Global Terrorism Index: 2013 Saw Huge Jump in Terrorism
24 Nov 2014 07:00:54 CDT -

The Institute for Economics and Peace has released its annual Global Terrorism Index, analyzing terror trends and ranking countries in terms of their safety from terrorism. According to the report, terror activity in 2013 was much higher than in 2012, having grown from 11,133 deaths in 2012 to 17,958 deaths last year -- the highest year-to-year increase on record.

As for where most terrorism is occurring, the answer not surprising -- the top five countries were Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Last year, 82 percent of terrorism deaths took place in these five countries. Moreover, just four organizations took responsibility for 66 percent of terrorist attack deaths: ISIL, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al-Qa'ida and affiliates.

According to the report, countries with higher levels of terrorism were found to have three statistically significant factors:

  • Social hostilities between different ethnic, religious and linguistic groups.
  • Presence of state-sponsored violence such as extrajudicial killings and political terror.
  • Higher levels of other forms of violence, including violent demonstrations and levels of violent crime.

The report found no correlation between poverty and economic growth and terrorism.

The report ranked 162 countries based on four different indicators (number of terrorist incidents, number of fatalities, number of injuries and total property damage) over a five-year period. Where did the United States rank on the terrorism list? Number 30.

Source:  "Global Terrorism Index 2014: Measuring and Understanding the Impact of Terrorism," Institute for Economics and Peace, 2014.

For more on Government Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/?Article_Category=33

Repeal the Medicine Cabinet Tax on OTC Drugs
21 Nov 2014 07:00:53 CDT -

When Americans think about medical care, they generally think about hospitals, doctors and prescription drugs. But in a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis, Senior Fellow Devon Herrick says that many overlook the importance of inexpensive, over-the-counter (OTC) drug therapy; just 1 percent of health spending goes toward OTC drugs, despite that Americans first reach for a nonprescription drug 80 percent of the time when they have a health ailment.

How much cheaper are OTC drugs than their prescription drug counterparts?

  • The average price for a name-brand prescription was $268 in 2011, compared to only $33 for a prescription filled with a generic drug.
  • OTC drug products are available in numerous package sizes; many OTC drugs are $10 or less and will last for months.
  • Americans save themselves (and the health care system) $6 to $7 for every $1 spent on a nonprescription drug. 

Still, they could be cheaper, says Herrick. When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it included what was essentially a tax on OTC drugs, because it made OTC medicines ineligible for reimbursement through health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). These accounts allow the Americans who have them to deposit pretax dollars into their accounts, which can then be used for medical expenses. Prior to the ACA, account holders could use those pretax dollars to purchase OTC drugs, resulting in a significant savings on medication. For example:

  • A middle-income family may face a marginal tax rate of 25 percent, a payroll tax of 15.3 percent, and possibly a state and local tax of 5 percent.
  • Thus, if an individual can use his pretax income to purchase OTC medication, he escapes that 45.3 percent tax.
  • This so-called Medicine Cabinet Tax is equal to a price hike of more than 40 percent for many consumers buying drugs over the counter.

OTC drugs can still be purchased through a tax-preferred account if they are prescribed by a physician. However, Herrick says the effort of obtaining a prescription for an OTC drug would negate any savings from choosing the OTC drug. Herrick encourages the new Congress to repeal the Medicine Cabinet Tax. Over-the-counter drugs reduce doctors' office visits and cost less than prescriptions, saving Americans, and the health system, money.

Source:  Devon Herrick, "Patient, Heal Thyself:  Why Congress Should Repeal the Medicine Cabinet Tax on Over-the-Counter Drugs," National Center for Policy Analysis, November 21, 2014. 

For more on Health Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/?Article_Category=16





Health Policy Digest

Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/ NCPA

Consumer Driven Health Care

Health Care Reform Tax Will Hurt Franchisees
04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - When the employer mandates go into effect in 2014, many franchised businesses will be motivated to reduce the number of locations and move workers from full-time to part-time status...

REAL CLEAR MARKETS

Saving Jobs from Health Reform's Harmful Regulations
04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - If the rate of health care cost growth had not exceeded general inflation, a typical family would have had $545 more per month in spendable income instead of $95 -- a difference of $5,400 per year...

GALEN INSTITUTE

Does Health Insurance and Seeing the Doctor Keep You Out of the Hospital?
04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - Gaining health insurance and using more primary care services leads to more hospitalizations as a result of physicians' discretionary decisions regarding aggressive and intensive treatment...

AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE

The Case for Competition in Medicare
04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - A well-functioning marketplace would set in motion the forces needed to transform American medical care into a model of efficient patient-centered care...

HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Potential Effect of Health Care Reform on Emergency Department Utilization Not Clear
04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - In 2010, 71 percent of emergency physicians said that they expected emergency department visits to increase due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act...

NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE





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