Articles Archive for March 2017
Most people who reside in north suburban Evanston think that they are special. While there is a modest amount of black and Hispanic folks around in Evanston, most residents are white, affluent, ideologically “progressive” meaning liberal and Democratic, obsessively politically correct and they think they know what is best.
Evanston, population 74,239, is a city where there is zero-tolerance for anybody who doesn’t think and act like they’re supposed to. Conformity is the norm. They rejected the abominable Donald Trump 34,038-2,808 or 88.4 percent on Nov. 8, which topped Barack Obama’s …
WILMETTE – Local elections are next Tuesday, and this campaign season there seems to be a new awareness of campaign efforts in city and village, as well as school board races. At least Illinois Review is hearing more than ever…
Nuclear industry giant Westinghouse files for bankruptcy https://t.co/nrLOrXriD4 pic.twitter.com/ABZm0hhVTv— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) March 29, 2017
Fox News reports:Over a six-year period, Ivy League schools have received tens of billions in tax dollars, bringing in more money from taxpayers than from undergraduate student tuition. In fact, they received more federal cash than 16 state governments…
There’s no agreement on a new state budget or anything close thereto. But there was agreement on one thing today, as progressive members of the Illinois House and Senate—all Democrats—offered their vision of what’s needed to fix the state.
On the “Illinois Comeback Agenda” are a voluntary system of public finance for candidates for statewide office, a constitutional amendment to allow a graduated income tax, removing cash-bail requirements for low-level criminal defendants and banning any economic assistance to a company that moves some or part of its operations out of state.
“All across our country, and in a more troubling way in Illinois, our citizens feel like special interests and the ultra-rich control our legislative process and its outcomes,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago. “The Illinois Comeback Agenda acknowledges the struggle the rest of us are facing.”
Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said the Bernie Sanders-like agenda—my phrase, not his—may be ambitious, but so are the state’s problems. “It’s going to take a long-term plan over the years to dig out of this hole.”
The agenda is on occasion provocative. For instance, is the state really ready to spend $50 million each election cycle on public financing?
Among the group’s members is gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, so consider today’s proposal a good idea of where he at least will be taking his campaign.
If President Donald Trump is serious about taking another stab at national health care reform, at least a few members of Illinois’ congressional delegation seem interested in working with him.
But that’s the end of the good news for those who’d like to tweak and not just junk Obamacare.
Chicago-area Democrats are divided on what would be on their negotiation list. Some want to push for the liberal gold standard of a single-payer health insurance system, while others are open to more market-friendly moves.
Meanwhile Republicans, still shell-shocked over last week’s rejection of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan, are showing their own signs of division.
There seem to be few areas of agreement in either party, though doing something to limit the price of pharmaceuticals, which Trump discussed during his campaign, is a possibility.
Here’s what I’ve found about what might come next from interviews, statements and reports from other media:
— Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, among the more liberal members of the delegation and a close ally of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, said the first thing that needs to happen is for Republicans to quit trying to “sabotage” Obamacare through lawsuits designed to cut off its funding.
If the GOP stops undermining the law, among the things Schakowsky said she’d like to see discussed are allowing Medicaid to negotiate drug prices, allowing states to offer single-payer insurance plans in areas that now have little competition, and wider eligibility for Medicare by, for instance, reducing the minimum age for enrollment.
Schakowsky does not like GOP proposals that would allow the interstate sale of insurance. “It’s kind of a race to the bottom,” she says. And reducing mandated coverage to allow less-expensive insurance to be sold could leave patients without coverage in areas such as maternity and preventive care, she added. “I really don’t think we can reduce the package like that.”
— Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Chicago, in a statement seemed to generally agree, particularly with the notion of establishing a government-run single-payer system.
“The private market is good in many respects, but a single-payer system would plug the holes that let too many people fall through the cracks or rely on very expensive care when preventive care is unavailable or unaffordable,” he said. “But obviously, the Republicans prefer to drop people from coverage, make coverage unaffordable and make our communities less healthy.”
— Naperville Democrat Bill Foster, who’s considered a relative moderate, agreed with Schakowsky that what’s needed for real negotiations is a legal “cease-fire. . . .The truth is, Obamacare is working well in a number of states where it was not actively sabotaged by Republicans.”
But Foster is not big on single-payer, saying states already have the authority to go down that road if they want. He talked more about what he termed “common-sense improvements,” including more price transparency to promote competition, allowing bundled payments in insurance, restoring the extra “risk corridor payments” to compensate for losses in health insurance exchanges that Republicans blocked and “looking at” raising the penalty for being uninsured.
Foster suggested he also might be open to GOP plans to allow insurers to sell “bare-bones” policies with relatively low premiums and high deductibles to get more young people in insurance exchanges. But first, “We need an agreement on what ‘bare-bones’ is, so that people don’t end up buying effectively worthless coverage,” he said.
— Another relative moderate, Brad Schneider, D-Deerfield, told me sensible solutions can be found, since the U.S. spends 150 percent of what “other countries do for coverage, without better outcomes.”
Washington probably should boost incentives in Obamacare so that premiums can be lowered, he said. And officials should be more creative in trying to get young people to buy insurance—for example, by allowing enrollment at the end of the school year when many are starting jobs, rather than at the end of the calendar year when they’re still paying tuition bills.
Single-payer “didn’t fly” when President Barack Obama tried it in 2009, Schneider added. But progress should be possible on drug costs.
— One other Democrat, Chicagoan Mike Quigley, was skeptical that any real progress will be made now. “In the end, I don’t think we’re going to get a real reform from (Republicans),” he said.
That’s unfortunate, he added, because “most Democrats think Obamacare needs tweaks.”
On Quigley’s list: enhanced incentives so people will be able to afford more coverage, and more insurance companies would then compete for their business. That would require more revenue, and Republicans “can pick any (source) they want.” On the other hand, he’s willing to discuss lowering some coverage mandates, and on single-payer said only, “I’ll accept that as an option.”
Republicans have been much quieter so far.
— Geneva’s Randy Hultgren, who heard lots of gripes from rural hospitals about the Ryan plan, said in a statement, “Doing nothing isn’t an option,” and he called on colleagues to “hold extensive hearings and figure out a different way forward.”
Hultgren’s spokesman said the congressman wants to keep Obamacare’s mandated coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, and continue to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26. He also wants to “maintain coverage for maternal and newborn care.”
Hultgren was a little more vague with other things on his list, including giving states more freedom to implement their own plans, and allowing employers to work directly with workers to develop lower-premium policies.
— Joliet Republican Adam Kinzinger has not returned several calls seeking comment.
— Nor has Wheaton’s Peter Roskam, who used to be in House GOP leadership and could find his way back in if Speaker Ryan departs.
But that doesn’t mean Roskam hasn’t been busy.
Politico reports that he is leading efforts to kill any moves to revive Ryan’s bill. Instead, he wants to run a bill more to the liking of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Some in the latter group are pushing a discharge petition that would allow a vote on a straight Obamacare repeal, without a replacement.
Such a step likely wouldn’t get very far, especially in the Senate, but it would appeal to conservatives.
All in all, despite some talk of moving together, it now seems to be just talk.Update, 4 p.m.—I failed to include comments from Southwest Side Democrat Dan Lipinski.
In an email, he says he’s most interested in reducing price, though not in the way the GOP did with their “hastily assembled bill.”
His suggestions: more price transparency, limits on drug costs and a system in place in Maryland that he says has trimmed expenditures there. No mention of single-payer. “It’s time for Republicans to sit down with Democrats and make the fixes to our health care system that will help rein in the costs and expand coverage without diminishing care.”Update, 5 p.m.—Schakowsky and two Democratic colleagues introduced legislation to cut down on rising pharmaceutical prices. It has various provisions, but the main one would allow Medicare officials to begin negotiating purchase prices.
Well, that was fun! The GOP’s attempt to reform healthcare hit a brick wall of politics. Conservative Republicans wanted to completely “repeal” Obamacare, while moderates and leaders were willing to keep much of it as long as it cost less. Moving one way or the other lost too many votes. Democrats refused to participate. So, the bill died.
The stock market rose when it looked like Speaker Ryan’s bill would pass, and fell when prospects faded. But US stocks remain undervalued. Nothing, other than politics, has changed and we expect equity …