When people think about drug pricing in the United States, they tend to think of the sky-high prices of some newer drugs. High prices do cause real problems. Some people in need may go without. People may also go without needed drugs because prices are too low.
The good: People can contribute to IRAs regardless of age, 401(k) balances can be converted into annuities and retirees can go another year and a half before there are required withdrawals from tax deferred accounts. The bad: heirs are required to withdraw deferred accounts more quickly (10 years). The ugly: industries that agreed to be taxed in order to fund Obamacare get their taxes rescinded, without any reform of the mess they helped create. More.
In its February 2018 report, Social Security’s Inspector General formally accused SSA staffers of reducing the benefits of thousands of widows — to the collective tune of $132 million. Here’s how the fraud, intentional or not, works. SSA forces, cajoles, suggests, or simply permits widows to unwittingly simultaneously file for both their survivor’s (widow’s) and retirement benefits. Doing so prevents widows from taking one of these two benefits early and the other later, after it has grown dramatically. MORE.
Larry Wedekind writes: The treatment of choice, almost everywhere, is called Medication Assisted Treatment (M.A.T.) and it involves substitute drugs. It has an 80% failure rate. There is a treatment that involves microcurrent neurofeedback and a recovery support team. It costs one-fifth as much and has a high probability of success. What the Trump administration can do: create CPT (payment) codes for this new method of treatment. What Congress can do: reform the Obamacare exchanges. More.
Do you have a mortgage on your house? And instead of paying off the mortgage are you investing money elsewhere? If so, then you are borrowing (from a mortgage company) at one rate and using the funds to invest at a lower rate – after adjustment for risk. Larry Kotlikoff says it makes more sense to pay off the mortgage – especially under the new tax law. More.
Uncle Sam’s fiscal gap (promises minus expected revenues, looking indefinitely into the future) is now $239 trillion. That’s ten times the size of our Gross Domestic Product. Eliminating our current fiscal gap requires either a 50 percent immediate and permanent hike in all federal taxes or a 33 percent immediate and permanent cut in all federal outlays, apart from debt service. The longer we wait, the more painful the solution gets. More.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Goodman Institute Senior Fellows David Henderson and Charles Hooper say unwise federal policies are causing drug prices to be unnaturally low. This is causing shortages, low quality and unreliability of supply. Currently, as many as 260 drugs are unavailable or in short supply in the U.S. shortages are blamed for some patient deaths. More.
Nearly 150 House Republicans have signed on to a health plan that matches very closely the Goodman Institute plan developed for Donald Trump. It includes personal and portable health insurance, 24/7 access to a personal doctor, telemedical care in the patient’s own home, flexible Health Savings Accounts and a real market for the chronically ill. More.
Elizabeth Warren economic advisers say the rich pay the lowest tax rates of all. Laurence Kotlikoff says they are wrong. Using the most sophisticated tools available to economists, Kotlikoff finds that among 40-year-olds, the top 1% face a lifetime average net tax rate of 34.5 percent. Yet when positive and negative taxes (benefits) are included, the poorest fifth are facing a rate of – 46.6 percent. For every dollar people in the bottom fifth earn, they get 46.6 cents back from the government. More.
Over the past 13 years, Mrs. Jimmy Rogers and her husband have, been deprived of tens of thousands of dollars in Social Security disability and spousal benefits, thanks to Social Security’s acknowledged mistakes. Jimmy has been forced to pay extra Social Security payroll taxes and extra federal income taxes she didn’t owe. And the government is still, to this day, sending them a bill for over $120,000 for disability and spousal benefits that they rightfully received. More.