The old politics of Medicare reform were to demagogue any proposed reform as an attempt to “throw granny off the cliff” for political gain, base motives, or both. These politics were on full display in President Obama’s recent assertion: "Today, we're often told that Medicare and Medicaid are in crisis. But that's usually a political excuse to cut their funding, privatize them, or phase them out entirely -- all of which would undermine their core guarantee.”
The Financial Stability Board (FSB) announced yesterday that it was suspending plans to designate large asset managers (e.g., those who manage assets on behalf of others like mutual funds) as Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs).
Today AAF has an event on the “gig economy” and the increasing use of independent contractors, which builds on a recent paper designed to shed light on the magnitude of these labor force developments. For those new to the area, there are three interrelated phenomena: (1) the gig economy – workers with alternative work arrangements, (2) the online gig economy – workers who utilize new technologies, markets and platforms for alternative work arrangements, and (3) the “sharing economy” – goods and services that employ under-utilized assets via online marketplaces or decentralized networks.
Yesterday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its latest edition of National Health Expenditures (NHE), a comprehensive summary and projection of sources and uses of dollars involved in the health sector.
Suppose that I proposed a policy that would cost over $100 billion dollars, but would only deliver about $7 billion of that to people living in poverty and would destroy nearly 7 million jobs in the process. Good idea? Let’s get back to that in a bit.
Health insurance mergers have hit the headlines recently. Aetna and Humana led off by announcing their merger, followed by the agreement by Cigna to be purchased by Anthem. To some, the most notable outcome of these mergers is that they yield two very large insurers, and leave the U.S. with three large health insurers with annual revenues in the $150 billion range. In this populist, “big is bad” era there are already calls for the Justice Department to step in and prevent the mergers. Let’s think this through step by step.
Wednesday the Trustees released their assessment of the Medicare and Social Security programs. AAF’s review indicates it is not a pretty sight. The short version is that these programs are enormous sources of red ink. Medicare had a cash-flow deficit of $308.9 billion — 60 percent of the 2014 overall deficit — while Social Security had a deficit of $73.1 billion — another nearly 15 percent of the total.
Medicare Advantage (MA) is the alternative to traditional Medicare that offers seniors a one-stop option for hospital care, outpatient physician visits, and prescription drug coverage. MA is popular with seniors. Enrollment has increased every year since 2004 and reached 16 million individuals in 2014, which represents 30 percent of the Medicare population.
The best energy policy is letting markets work. A great testimony to this is the recent revolution in oil and gas production. It was due to market-driven technological advances that built on some government basic research and further industry development. It would be beneficial for consumers and producers alike if even more market forces were put in to play — namely to permit domestic producers to export crude oil (and accelerate the granting of permits to export liquified natural gas).
Dodd-Frank turns 5 today. Is it a happy birthday? A review of the causes of the financial crisis and the structure of the law yields a good, solid “sort of.” The strongest part of Dodd-Frank (and in part due to the lessons of experience in the crisis) is that the large U.S. banks -- denoted Global Systemically Important Banks (G-SIBs) — now have roughly three times the liquidity and five times the loss-absorbing capacity than at the time of the crisis.