Month: November 2012

What Obamacare Means for Business Owners

Employer-provided health insurance: how it began and where it’s headed 

 

Did you know that employer-provided health insurance, which many American workers see as a privilege, actually began as a way to circumvent wage regulations during WWII? Because companies were being told what they had to pay employees, they sought a loophole in the form of “fringe benefits” – which not only were tax deductions for the company, but also a before-tax cost to employees.

 

Sounds like a win-win, right? The problem is these tax-free perks do not extend to an individual buying healthcare on their own. They end up paying more for health insurance with after-tax money. So without a subsidized public option, American workers who lose their jobs also lose affordable health coverage.

 

As it pertains to this long-standing injustice, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as PPACA or “Obamacare”) is intended to (1) enforce accountability through widespread transparency, (2) issue mandates that keep costs down by driving competition, and (3) give individuals options in the expanded marketplace.

 

Transparency means accountability

 

Until now, there has been no government intervention to force companies to reveal how they pay for these health plans. In other words, without such transparency, not even the employees supposedly reaping these benefits know exactly how it’s paid for. Economists tend to agree that the contributions employers make toward fringe benefits come out of the employees’ take-home pay.

 

The healthcare ruling now forces companies to disclose to the IRS how much they pay for their employee’s health insurance and how much is paid for by employees. Likewise, insurance companies must now report exactly how much of their money goes toward coverage versus administration (80/20 rule).

 

This transparency extends beyond insurers and employers to the healthcare providers. Healthcare reform will attempt to usher in a new era in which costs are dictated by results rather than benchmarks. For example, The United States per capita healthcare cost ($7,000) is almost double that of countries like Japan or The United Kingdom. But both Japan and the U.K. have a higher average life-expectancy than the U.S.

 

Though it is no easy feat, the ultimate goal of transparency through healthcare reform is to offer everyone (patients, doctors, insurers, companies, hospitals) credible information about the cost and quality of care, leading to more informed consumers and providers.

 

Mandates: more options = more affordable

 

Perhaps the most controversial part of the Supreme Court’s decision was granting the Federal Government the ability to deliver mandates to both individuals and companies. The court ruled that the government could enforce an individual mandate by enforcing a “taxed” penalty to people who can afford health care, but choose not to buy it beginning in 2014.

 

 

Likewise, beginning in 2014, companies of over 50 employees are mandated to offer workers a competitively affordable health plan. There are a host of variables (including company size, and income) that affect this mandate, but in a broad sense, the government will use the health care reform tax credit and penalty to ensure individuals have affordable options.

 

 

Small businesses will be able to increase their healthcare buying power by participating in government-funded exchange programs. These programs encourage small business to take part by offering up to 50% tax credits on premiums.

 

What it all means:

 

Because the average employee sees health benefits as a bonus, he or she is less motivated to discover the value of the service being paid for. Public health experts nationwide agree that employer-provided healthcare was a rotten foundation to a now convoluted and overpriced healthcare system. However, it’s the only system American’s know and one that millions depend on for coverage. Therefore, the goal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is to create an equally strong public option to level the playing field, which requires participation from all Americans. Will it? We’ll see early next year.

 

Joseph Polito writes on behalf of Just CMS 1500 forms, a resource for affordable supplies for health care offices, including cms forms and other medical claim forms.

How Republicans Are Misunderstanding Latinos

For quite a long time now, Republicans have tried to find ways to bring in more Latino voters into its base, but with limited success.  Republican leaders stress that Latinos fit in perfectly with the base of the party for multiple reasons, however 67% of Latinos are registered Democrat.  Let us look at Republican claims as to why Latinos are a perfect fit for the party and ways that they are misunderstood.

Many people assess the Latino population in the United States as a socially conservative group with deep, predominantly Catholic, values.  The GOP for decades have tried to use this to their advantage due to the fact that the Republican base has similar core values.  From afar it does seem like a perfect fit, but Latinos are not as socially conservative as Republicans give them credit for.  In order to explain this claim I will break down the different demographics within the United States Latino community.

Breaking down the U.S. Latino community into generations (first generation Latino- American, second generation Latino-American, etc…) is, at least I find, the best way to explain the political matches and mismatches between Latinos and Republicans.  Let us start with first generation Latinos in the United States and their political profile.

Out of all the Latino generations, first generation and foreign-born Latinos tend to be the most conservative.  According to the Pew Research Center, 35% of foreign-born Latinos consider themselves conservative in their political beliefs as opposed to 28% of Latinos born in the United States, which is likely because of the greater influence that religion has in Latin American countries.  They also tend to have a more conservative stance than other generations on issues such as abortion and the acceptance of homosexuality.

Second and third generation Latino-Americans tend to be more liberal on many issues as opposed to earlier generations.  Later generation Latinos are slightly more accepting of homosexuals and are much more in favor of legal abortion rights for women.  They are also more likely to describe themselves as liberals.  One may argue that the reason for the increase in liberal ideology among younger generations of Latino-Americans is their exposure to a more secular society in the United States, as opposed to their parents or grandparents who were grew up in a less secular, Latin American nation.

From the information above, one would think that first generation Latino-Americans would be a perfect match for Republicans, right?  They have many of the same core beliefs when it comes to abortion, the importance of religion, and many other issues, but still the GOP sees Latinos vote consistently Democrat.  One major reason for this mismatch between the GOP and first generation Latino-Americans is the harsh, seemingly anti-immigrant, language that modern Republicans use.  For this particular demographic, immigration is at the top of their list because they went through the immigration process and know the difficulties and struggles they went through to become citizens of the United States.  They may still have family or friends living in their native Latin American country that are going through the immigration process, and it is through first-hand exposure to this process that makes it one of their top issues.

They key to appealing to the first generation would primarily be to propose and promote a passable, yet realistic, immigration reform bill.  Doing this is key to bringing in new first generation voters, and along with that will come second and third generation Latino-Americans.  With the consistent growth of the Latino population in the United States, it is essential that the GOP capitalize on this demographic, exploit the similarities, and bury the differences.

These are just my observations about the Latino vote, let’s start a conversation, what are your opinions on Republicans attracting new Latino voters?

A Link To Hold You Over

A few days ago I thought I finished an article about the future of the Republican Party, but as I read it over and over, I realized that I really didn’t like it.  So now I have to start a new article from scratch and I plan to have it on the site within the next few days, so stay tuned.  Until then I have a link to an article from one of my favorite journalists, Matt Taibbi.  He’s a journalist for Rolling Stone and best known for his book outlining the reasons for the financial crisis named “Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America,” which is an excellent book that I urge everyone to read.  The link below is an article he posted after the election laying out the problems of the Republican Party.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/hey-rush-limbaugh-starting-an-abortion-industry-wont-win-you-female-voters-20121108

Storming the White House: Environmental Policy and Election Fever

Before I begin my idealistic musings that I am known to do, I feel a

brief introduction is due. Admittedly, I am new to the blogging
community. The founder and administrator of this
particular blog extended the offer to me several months ago to
occasionally contribute an opinion piece or article, and I felt
obliged to accept the offer (graciously, of course). Also
admittedly, I come from a slightly “left-of-center” American
ideology, but by no means do I feel any particular fondness to
political parties or factions. My studies focused on politics and
history, and are now moving into the realm of law and international
affairs. Until recently, most of my writing has been dry “here are
the statistics” articles due to constraints, but I am looking forward
to an outlet for editorial writing. So if you will indulge me, I will
be glad to try to weave my brand of cynical, sarcastic, and dry humor
into comprehensible editorials for the readers to (hopefully) enjoy.

So now, here is my first blog entry:

Storming the White House: Environmental Policy and Election Fever

The direction of American politics within the past few years has left
a particularly unattractive stain on the country’s image, leaving
countless young observers (such as myself) feeling disconnected from
their leadership. In an age where mentioning global warming can sink
a political campaign, is there any reason to hold faith in the two
party system? Bi-partisanship has been abandoned, the political mood
is schizophrenic as ever, and the American public continues to vote
along the same path as a pendulum. In the past few days, the “super
storm” that raged through the east coast exposed the inconsistencies
in right-wing rhetoric on environmental policy, and perhaps shaped
the political careers of several men.
In the face of Hurricane Sandy, climate change has been brought into
the spotlight once again. While it is absurd to say the hurricane
was caused by global warming (these things have been happening longer
than humans could even put a physical foot print on Earth), it is
hard to deny that global warming did not intensify the storm. Scientists
and journalists have been debating the issue for the past few days, and
the verdict was relatively unanimous – climate change is impacting the
severity of tropical storms.

The idea environmental protection and global warming as a partisan
issue is, in fact, relatively new to the political field. Until Al Gore’s
infamous film, it was indeed the Republican Party that took the greatest
measures towards protecting the environment.

This leads me to wonder – what happened to the “Grand” Old Party?

Republican president Theodore Roosevelt was perhaps one of the
greatest conservationists of all time. It was under his leadership
that the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 was passed, along with
creating the United States Forest Service, and coining the slogan
“Conservation as a National Duty.”

As much pain as it causes me to praise this man, it was President
Nixon that first proposed the creation of the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), which went into effect in 1970. It is worth
noting that recent Republic rhetoric has called for the dissolution
of the EPA. It is also worth noting that since the creation of this
agency, we have stopped catching rivers on fire. I have very little
expertise in chemistry, but I am fairly certain water is not
inherently flammable.

What may come as a shock to many is that Ronald Reagan, the
conservative icon, acknowledged the existence of climate change. In
fact, he created a board on the NSA for the purpose of researching
ways of dealing with a potential climate change. However, he also
made it a point to distance himself from the environmental policies
of Jimmy Carter by slashing the EPA’s budget, and removing the White
House’s solar panels in a silly symbolic gesture.

With Hurricane Sandy’s effects on the next administration in mind, it
may be noted that the true victor was Chris Christie. In a
controversial move to back President Obama’s response to the storm,
Governor Christie has emerged as a symbol of bi-partisanship, a
national hero, and possibly the future of the Republican Party. It
may very well be that Christie is the genuine article, responding
decisively to a crisis, but the Machiavellian in me leads me to
believe there may be more to the story. As American voters are known
to operate like a pendulum, it is likely President Obama will be in
office for another four years (apologies, Mr. Romney), and the
American public will swing back to the right for a 2016 Republican
president. However, if President Romney is elected, Governor Christie
will have to wait likely another eight years, by which time Americans
may swing to the left yet again. Whether he intended to harm the
Romney campaign by supporting President Obama in a time of crisis or
not, it should be interesting to see how this man’s career will play
out.

In an era where bi-partisanship is scorned and environmental
protection is seen as un-American, it is difficult to have faith in
our elected leaders. This is usually the point in an article where
the writer urges the reader to “get out there and vote,” leaving the
reader with a warm, wrapped in an American flag blanket feeling, but
I cannot write that without a laugh. If the past few decades have
been any indication, politics will continue at a lackluster pace, and
any change made will be incremental and insufficient. Most changes
are purely symbolic. The most significant environmental move made by
the Obama administration was to re-install the solar panels on the
roof of the White House. The election, only a few days away, will
show whether or not the panels will remain for four more years.

This article has been written by My Spin on Things newest writer, Logan Holmes.

 

 

My Spin on Things Welcomes a New Writer

My Spin on Things is pleased to announce its newest writer, Logan Holmes.  Holmes is a Political Science major at The University of Pittsburgh and has a great mind for politics.  He is a very close friend of mine and I trust that all the readers of this blog will find his articles interesting and informative.  Later today I will be posting his first op-ed so please stay tuned!