Published in The News Tribune, June 19, 2013
Back when he was president, Ronald Reagan famously (or infamously) reduced complex concepts to simple ones he thought the public could understand.
To explain the size of our nation’s debt, which in 1981 had just topped $1 trillion, he summoned the image of one trillion dollar bills stacked one on top of the other. My mind’s eye still can see that tower of bills reaching up beyond the stratosphere, extending one-quarter of the way to the moon. Continue reading
Published in The News Tribune, February 27, 2013.
Each year as a nation, we spend more than $150 billion on research to find health-improving products. Such research has led to spectacular advancements in the health of those born prematurely or afflicted with heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
Yet when it comes to promoting a healthy population, we shouldn’t be so quick to congratulate ourselves. Continue reading
Published in The News Tribune, December 19, 2012
The news from Newtown, Connecticut has many of us revisiting recent horrors where unstable citizens in our own communities committed the unspeakable crime of killing off-duty police officers, a sleeping father, a park ranger, and far too many others. Yet even these senseless crimes pale in comparison with the terrifying violence visited last week on children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof passionately, predictably — and correctly – has called for stricter control and regulation of our nation’s guns. Continue reading
Published in The News Tribune, November 22, 2012
Often, holiday meals like those at my house consist of a range of separate contributions which collectively add up to the Thanksgiving Dinner. As we sit down to partake of the varied assortment of dishes, no one would think of criticizing the turkey because the mushroom soup dish contained more fried onion rings than green beans, or because someone insisted on adding a bag of marshmellows to the sweet potatoes.
The fact that different dishes are on the same table doesn’t somehow turn them into one “Dish” called “Thanksgiving Dinner” that deserves a singular judgment. Instead, we pass judgment on the successful (and quietly perhaps, the less successful) features of each individual dish. Continue reading
Published in The News Tribune, August 2, 2012
The Supreme Court’s decision this summer to uphold the most controversial part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the “mandate” requiring individuals to buy health insurance – was both historic and a critical victory for those battling to achieve universal health care in the United States.
However, while most of the public’s attention has rightly focused on the Court’s determination that the federal government can indeed require us to buy health insurance, this wasn’t the only provision in the ACA that opponents argued was unconstitutional: They also claimed that the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid to more of the nation’s poor coerced states’ participation by setting the penalty for nonparticipation too high. Continue reading
Published in The News Tribune, December 21, 2011
Today’s column concerns “deadweight loss.”
Why anyone would coin a term “deadweight loss” (DWL) is beyond me. But someone did and we’re stuck with it. Of all economic expressions this is the worst, conjuring up images of the Mafia and concrete boots. But DWL is important; in order to have a “healthy” economy we should eliminate it. Read on to see where I’m going. Continue reading
Published in The News Tribune, October 25, 2011
With little fanfare, a Class Act died earlier this month.
Formally known as Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, Class Act was a short-lived health care program created as part of the recent health care overhaul. The Obama Administration has just now cancelled it.
Class Act’s demise is noteworthy — certainly much more than would be indicated by its placement on the back pages of the newspapers. Its end helps remind us of a present and growing problem we have yet to solve. It also reminds us of the inadequacies in current health care policy. Continue reading
Published in The News Tribune November 14, 2010
Bolstered by the election, Republicans are now renewing their commitment to repeal Obama’s health care reform act. The government’s “takeover of health care” was a bad idea, they say. Courts in the meantime are reviewing the Act’s constitutionality, with many arguing that the federal government cannot legally mandate insurance.
Not being a constitutional scholar, I’ll take a pass on this legal challenge and instead say why mandating insurance is exactly what the federal government should be doing.
Aside from a moral argument that everyone should have health insurance, the reason for mandating insurance is that without universal coverage, the health insurance market is unacceptably wasteful and unfair. Continue reading