Debating Entitlements: Medicare’s Eligibility Age

Debating Entitlements: Medicare’s Eligibility Age

It’s an election year. Politics and policy conversations –whether intelligent or not- seem to be everywhere. This election cycle we have heard quite a bit about the economy but surprisingly not much about entitlements – at least not since the Republican primary ended. This is surprising considering entitlement spending accounts for nearly half of the federal government’s budget.  That makes the issue an obvious channel for candidates to illustrate their particular politics on the role of government, government spending, and the economy. Not only that, but it is an issue that impacts every voter, whether they are retired, close to retirement, or paying taxes to fund others’ retirement. However, this election cycle, strangely enough, louder, more colorful topics have trumped the political arena and national conversation.

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Beef with the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020

Beef with the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020

Just like your fad-diet-loving aunt at Christmas dinner, the U.S. government has given its citizens a little advice on what they should be taking off their plates this year, most notably: sugar. So, go ahead and finish off your secret stash of Christmas cookies you’ve been harboring in your freezer, but before you fool anyone with your “healthy” yogurt check out its nutritional facts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services’s (HHS) 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans claims that the average citizen consumes over 13 percent of his or her calories from added sugars, like those commonly found in sodas, fruity drinks, sweets and processed foods (even those boasting slogans like, “Natural!” or “Light!”). (Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020, 2016.)

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King v. Burwell: Background and Implications

King v. Burwell: Background and Implications

The case of King v. Burwell was granted a writ of certiorari on November 7th, 2014, to be heard by the United State Supreme Court in June 2015. The case challenges the IRS’s expansion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) main taxing and spending provisions. The issue asks whether or not Section 1321 of PPACA permits the IRS to “promulgate regulations to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government.” Essentially, this case will decide whether or not the federal government has the authority to provide tax subsidies to consumers whose states chose not to set up statewide insurance exchanges under PPACA. Since 36 states declined the set-up of a state exchange, the IRS was forced to create federal exchanges to provide for the millions of Americans who couldn’t obtain coverage. 4.6 million Americans have obtained coverage using this exchange.

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CDC Preparedness in Light of Ebola

CDC Preparedness in Light of Ebola

The recent public health crisis in West Africa has captured the attention of the world, and has brought to the forefront important questions about this country’s ability to respond to an epidemiological threat like Ebola. In 2001, just after the anthrax attacks, we faced a similar problem and acted swiftly to create federal programs for state-level healthcare providers, who serve as the United States’ first line of defense against infectious diseases. Overall, the federal programs were a resounding success, and today’s health infrastructure is more able than ever to respond to an outbreak.

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Medicaid: Are You In or Out?

Medicaid: Are You In or Out?

In October of 2013, the health care exchanges, touted in the infamous Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (ACA), went live. The goal was to give some 32 million uninsured Americans easy access to the coverage promised in the law. As with any government funded project, the exchanges have met many obstacles. We all know that. However, in the midst of the difficulties experienced with the law and its medical exchanges lies a greater obstacle—the states’ right to ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of the federal government’s billion dollar Medicaid expansion.

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