Insurance Transparency (WSJ)

Transparency in cost can prove helpful to consumers. An important question to ask is whether informed consumers will have enough market power to drive down prices in the face of consolidation of health systems and private practices.

The effort to drive down consumer cost needs to include the elimination of unneeded services that do not impact health outcomes, but allow providers to charge additional fees. There could be cost savings in limiting or bundling charges for follow up appointments where patients do not actually receive care. This might help save patients some time and money at the same time, making the most of each visit to reduce the repeat visits.

The push to reduce prescription drug prices is important to reduce the gap between American and international buyers. But, the funding for research and development need to remain. Molecular drugs as well as biologics are not cheap to formulate, test, and market. But, consumers should receive fair prices, especially for life critical medications.




Legalized Marijuana Gives Hiring Managers a Headache – The Wall Street Journal.

If hiring managers struggle to fill positions, they might need to reconsider their candidate pools. There are plenty of people who do not partake in marijuana, legal or illegal. In certain, the impact of influence while on the job could be catastrophic, like the building incident in Philadelphia not that long ago. Recreational use may be legal but companies need to consider whether use is an acceptable risk.


Amazon Reconsidering Plan to Put Campus in New York City Amazon Reconsidering Plan to Put Campus in New York City – The Wall Street Journal

On principle, government should focus on creating environments attractive to all businesses, not crafting sweetheart deals to lure select entities. Governments should not pick winners or losers, but provide a fair and equal shot at success or failure. In the case of Amazon, New York City and the State of New York gave a significant incentive package that has some lawmakers raising questions.

In response, Amazon is rethinking its commitment to bring $2.5 billion worth of investments and jobs to Long Island City in Queens. Essentially, it may walk away from the reported $3 billion in incentives to choose another site with less local uproar. There were many other places where Amazon probably could receive a good incentives package while making an impact on the local community. But, Amazon went with a pretty strong sweetheart deal. If reports are correct, pay $2.5 billion for $3 billion of government incentives, not including revenues, is not a bad deal.

Amazon is not the first private sector entity to make local government’s bid on attaining their business. The practice is common for sports teams and other corporations seeking incentives to move significant lines of business to new cities. Many sports teams request financing deals from state and local governments, threatening relocation. The economics of these financing projects are highly questionable at best. Some instances are worth it. Sometimes not.

Understandably, city governments and local politicians want the jobs and the tax revenues. The publicity today can propel political careers for years to come, while local taxpayers deal with the financial ramifications. In the case of Amazon, one can reasonably assume much of the required infrastructure upgrades will run over-budget and create great burden to the already congested area. Over a ten year period, will the economic boom be felt only by Amazon or by the taxpayers as well? We will have to wait and see.


What if you can’t raise $90k for a library? In Philly schools, there are haves and have-nots (PHILLY.COM)

crc cpA call out against bad public policy combined with a bit of class warfare. In the article from the link above, the journalist writes about how a Philadelphia community overcame the lack of a publicly funded library. Through fundraising efforts and development of a non-profit, community members secured the needed funds to start a library.  In contrast, the journalist points out the inability for high poverty areas to achieve a similar feat. Also, the public policy failure of local elected officials not securing enough funds from the state to have performing libraries. While there are clear disadvantages in varying economic environments, the narrative overlooks a personal and social responsibility demonstrated by one group that provides a pathway for other groups, regardless of economic prowess.

There is no disagreement that areas with high poverty rates lack social networks with excess income for donations. The lack of proper education funding does places these communities at an economic disadvantage, not of their own choosing, compared to wealthier counterparts. Ideally, all communities would place greater value in maintaining quality education programs than using taxpayer dollars on programs better suited for the private sector. In this case, neither rich nor poor areas were set to receive the needed funding. The people that see it as an obstacle to overcome rather than a point of contention will be the ones that find solutions.

Richer communities do have an advantage in fundraising, being able to bring people seeking tax write-offs together. In spite of this, other communities may need to seek unconventional targets for fundraising campaigns. Many corporations and business will readily donate if advocates have the persistence and people skills to cultivate relationships and make a reasoned case for providing funds for schools. Also, geographic barriers should not restrain fundraising efforts. There are many people and organizations that will help outside their own domains if people can make them aware of the need.

There needs to be a champion willing to advocate for these programs. Our current society has numerous tools to crowdfunding endeavors, which should be utilized to attain needed funds. The task is obviously difficult, but not impossible by any means. Americans need champions not complainers. Advocates not wayward activist. Problem solvers not problem creators. Government may not be able to provide solutions, but that does not mean there is not one available.



crc cpThere is great economic potential in many communities that get typically overlooked by public and private sector investors. Because of local demographics, people lack access to good paying jobs, quality education, and opportunity that better managed areas readily have.

In the above link, ideas for how to change the status quo and expand economic opportunities by removing biases that exist and making communities more attractive for investment.

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