The Heritage Insider – How to stop the red ink – Have you ever asked a hospital to give you its prices

The Heritage Insider – How to stop the red ink – Have you ever asked a hospital to give you its prices

February 27, 2016

President Obama recently released his last budget, and this week The Heritage Foundation put out a plan of its own. Unlike the President’s plan, the Heritage plan charts a path to a balanced budget. Debate continues on whether the Senate should consider any nomination made by President Obama to replace Antonin Scalia. Did you know that the appointment power and the treaty power are found in the same section of the Constitution? Christopher Horner explains how the President has gotten both wrong. Hospitals don’t post their prices because you, the patient, are not the payer. But what if you really wanted to find out? You’re probably out of luck, says new research by the Pioneer Institute. Meanwhile, the paperwork burden in health care keeps getting bigger, finds Sam Batkins. And for our toolkit this week, Chaz Cirame notes some reasons to think your aol.com subscribers are more likely to carry your message than others. Also, this week we added over 50 studies, articles, speeches, videos, and events to the The Insider. Visit to see what the conservative movement has been thinking, writing, saying, and doing to win battles for liberty.

How to stop the red ink. If the federal government remains on its current path, it will accumulate an additional $9.9 trillion in debt over the next ten years. By 2026, just paying the interest on the debt will take up 58 percent of the federal government’s discretionary budget and exceed the amount of money spent on national defense. What is to be done? The Heritage Foundation has a plan that will balance the federal budget within seven years by reforming entitlement spending, repealing ObamaCare, and eliminating corporate welfare. [The Heritage Foundation]

Have you ever asked a hospital to give you its prices? Researchers from the Pioneer Institute asked 54 hospitals for their prices. They found that most hospitals don’t normally get that question. “In many cases, it took long waits on hold, multiple calls, several internal transfers, call-backs, dropped calls and lots of persistence and diligence on the part of our researchers to obtain price information. Our callers were frequently required to provide medical billing codes about which an ordinary consumer would have no knowledge and further, our staff was often told to call a separate organization altogether to obtain a complete estimate.” The unavailability of prices for medical procedures tells you a lot about our health care system. [Pioneer Institute]

Selective constitutionalism: President Obama claims that the Senate would be derelict in its constitutional duties if it failed to vote on an apparently forthcoming Supreme Court nomination. That part of the Constitution is Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, and it doesn’t say that the Senate must hold a vote, only that an appointment does not take effect until it is approved by a majority vote in the Senate. But the very same section lays out another important restriction on presidential power: the requirement that treaties be approved by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Christopher Horner writes that if the President is going to lecture (falsely) about Article II, Section 2, then now would be a good time to remind him that the very same section requires the Paris climate change treaty to be submitted to the Senate for consideration. [Competitive Enterprise Institute]

They said they were going to bend the cost curve. Thanks partly to the Affordable Care Act, the paperwork burden that the Department of Health and Human Services imposes on the private sector has risen to 700 million hours—up from 412 million hours in 2008. Sam Batkins writes: “To put 700 million hours of paperwork in context, it would take 354,500 employees working full-time in the private sector (2,000 hours annually) to complete a year of HHS paperwork. That is more than the population of Honolulu, Hawaii dedicated to regulatory compliance for HHS. To monetize this figure, assuming the average wage rate of a compliance officer, yields a burden of $23.1 billion.” [American Action Forum]

Toolkit: Pay attention to your aol.com subscribers. Recent research has found that email subscribers with aol.com accounts, though fewer in number, are far more likely to donate and have a much higher average gift than gmail account holders. It could be, writes Chaz Cirame, that such account holders are also more politically active and have a wider circle of influence: “[T]hese individuals likely established this email address 20 years ago or more. This already means that they are at least in their mid-to-late 30s. Usually they are even older because the fact that they are still using this account means that they were resistant to change when new and better email services emerged. Often this was because they were already doing significant business on their account. As a result, usually you will find that these individuals are mostly in their 40s-60s, which means that they are in the prime age bracket for professional influence.” [The Insider] 

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