August 25th, 2023 at 11:23 am
Innovation Killer: Biden Administration to Announce Ten Lifesaving Drugs Subject to Destructive “Bidenomics” Price Controls
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CFIF recently marked the ignominious one-year anniversary of the Biden Administration’s misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA), whose title even Biden himself admitted was mistaken.

We noted how, as a result of the IRA, drug shortages have already reached record highs, increasing by 30% between 2021 and 2022 alone, according to a report in March from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.  Another report from the American Cancer Society also sounded the alarm on emerging drug shortages, caused in part by drug price control policies.  Thus, just one year in, drug shortages have reached record levels under the looming threat of drug price controls, weaker intellectual property protections and regulatory browbeating.

This week, as reported by Politico, the same Biden Administration that called inflation “transitory” and insists in the face of public blowback that “Bidenomics” is somehow succeeding announced that it will soon release the first ten prescription drugs selected for its destructive price control scheme:

President Joe Biden has sought to sell health policies like the new Medicare negotiation program as part of a broader ‘Bidenomics’ agenda set to underpin his reelection campaign.  The drug pricing push, he has argued, will help counter inflation and boost the economy by slashing the amount Americans have to shell out each year for critical medicines, although prices negotiated on the first set of drugs won’t take effect until 2026.”

Given Biden’s shoddy record for accuracy and competence so far, Americans will be forgiven for their skepticism.  As we noted, the consequence of price controls will be shortages and less innovation, which we’re already witnessing.  Americans aren’t buying this “Bidenomics” pitch, and will pay a heavy price unless and until these dangerous drug price controls are reversed.

 


August 16th, 2023 at 3:31 pm
One Year Later, Biden’s “Inflation Reduction Act” Having Catastrophic Impact on U.S. Healthcare and Innovation
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“The record of price controls goes as far back as human history.  They were imposed by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.  They were decreed by Hammurabi, king of Babylon, in the eighteenth century B.C.  They were tried in ancient Athens.” -Henry Hazlitt

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Joe Biden’s misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA), which even he now admits shouldn’t have carried that title.

Beyond Biden’s own regrets, however, Americans deserve to understand its destructive impact on our healthcare system and world-leading pharmaceutical innovation sector.

Namely, our traditional market-based approach has resulted in an unrivaled legacy of pharmaceutical innovation and abundance relative to the rest of the industrialized world.

For example, the United States accounts for approximately two of every three new lifesaving drugs introduced worldwide, meaning that we alone create twice as many new drugs as the entire world combined.  As another illustration, American consumers enjoy a substantially higher availability of critical drugs compared to people in other advanced economies.  Of 270 new medicines introduced domestically since 2011, only 52% of them were available to our neighbors just across our northern border in Canada, 41% in Australia, 48 % in Japan, 53% in France, 64% in Britain and 67% in Germany.

Destructive drug price controls, however, maintained an illogical appeal for the Biden Administration and the political left.

They can’t say that they couldn’t have foreseen the downsides of the IRA.  Amid debate over broad drug price controls back in 2021, a University of Chicago study warned of their potential negative impact on future drug innovation and availability:

The United States has far fewer restrictions on price than other countries, but the Biden Administration has announced their goal to lower drug prices through greater price regulation. …  [N]ew drug approvals will fall by 32 to 65 approvals from 2021 to 2029 and 135 to 277 approvals from 2030 to 2039.  These significant drops in new drug approvals will lead to delays in needed drug therapies, resulting in worse health outcomes for patients.  

Several years earlier, even the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) similarly warned about the consequences of government price controls and intellectual property violations:

[P]rice controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.  

Disregarding those warnings and textbook economic logic, the Biden Administration and Pelosi-Schumer Congress plowed ahead with the IRA, whose drug price control provisions President Biden bizarrely trumpets as a 2024 reelection theme.  From branded drugs to off-patent older generics, the Biden Administration accelerated government efforts to artificially target drug prices, oblivious to the foreseeable consequences.

We’re now suffering the consequences of that agenda.

Drug shortages have already reached record highs, increasing by 30% between 2021 and 2022 alone, according to a report earlier this summer from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs:

Shortages of critical medications continue to rise – including drugs used in hospital emergency rooms and to treat cancer, prescription medications, and even common over-the-counter treatments like children’s cold and flu medicine.  The number of active drug shortages in the U.S. reached a peak of 295 at the end of 2022. …  Between 2021 and 2022, new drug shortages increased by nearly 30 percent.  At the end of 2022, drug shortages experienced a record five-year high of 295 active drug shortages.  

Separately, a new report from the American Cancer Society warns of emerging drug shortages, caused in part by drug pricing policies:

Chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer are increasingly in short supply and have returned to the list of top-five drug classes affected by shortage.  Expanded demand, supply shortages, limited manufacturing capacity, and low profit margins for generic therapies are among the factors resulting in the current nationwide shortage.  …  A number of the drugs included in the shortage don’t have an effective alternative.  As first-time treatments for a number of cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer, ovarian cancer and leukemia often experienced by pediatric cancer patients, the shortage could lead to delays in treatment that could result in worse outcomes.  

Accordingly, drug shortages have reached record levels under the looming threat of drug price controls, weaker intellectual property protections and regulatory browbeating.

Instead of perpetuating the IRA’s spiral of price control insanity, elected leaders should return to the more market-oriented approach that brought unrivaled innovation before more Americans pay the needless cost.


July 27th, 2023 at 11:10 am
Image of the Day: “Bidenomics”
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Make of this what you will, as Joe Biden pitches “Bidenomics” in his reelection effort and maligns the alleged “trickle down” economic record of his predecessor:

Bidenomics

Bidenomics

 


June 29th, 2023 at 12:06 pm
New Study Confirms Deadly Effect of Drug Price Controls on Lifesaving Innovation
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For years we’ve warned how drug price controls – as with price controls on any product or service – don’t reduce prices so much as they inevitably cause shortages and stifle innovation.

Europe and other advanced economies imposing socialized drug price controls suffer dramatic shortages compared to the traditionally more market-oriented United States, and now in the wake of the misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA), the U.S. is already experiencing unprecedented drug shortages.

This is literally a matter of life and death.

A new analysis from Vital Transformation offers the latest detail on how the IRA’s drug price controls, and the proposed “Smart Prices Act” (SPA) seeking to expand them, will stifle innovation in the field of lifesaving pharmaceuticals:

Looking forward, we estimate that the expanded government price setting could result in roughly 230 fewer FDA approvals of new medicines over a ten-year period, once the impacts are fully reflected in the pipeline.  Impacts will be felt most heavily in many areas of unmet need, including rare disease, oncology, neurology, and infectious disease.”  (Emphasis added.)

Indeed, Vital Transformation’s study illustrates how many of the drugs currently targeted by the IRA’s price controls would’ve never come to market had the price controls existed at the time:

Had the drug pricing provisions of the SPA been in place prior to the development of today’s top-selling medicines, we estimate that 82 of the 121 therapies we identified as selected for price setting would likely have not been developed.”

In addition to price controls’ impact on lifesaving drug innovation, the new study also helpfully highlights the negative economic and job effects of these price controls on the U.S. economy and employment market:

We modeled the impacts on industry revenues and future R&D investments and estimated future lost innovation impacts including the impact on industry jobs.  We estimate a loss of between 146,000 – 230,000 direct biopharmaceutical industry jobs and a total of 730,000 – 1,100,000 U.S. jobs across the economy if the proposed IRA expansion were to be implemented.”

All of this, of course, simply confirms what analysts have known for decades.  A 2021 University of Chicago study warned in equally stark terms how drug price controls will dangerously reduce drug innovation and availability:

The United States has far fewer restrictions on price controls than other countries, but the Biden Administration has announced their goal to lower drug prices through greater price regulation.  …  [N]ew drug approvals will fall by 32 to 65 approvals from 2021 to 2029 and 135 to 277 approvals from 2030 to 2039.  These significant drops in new drug approvals will lead to delays in needed drug therapies, resulting in worse health outcomes for patients.”

Believe it or not, even the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) issued the same warning of the deadly consequences of government price controls and weaker patent protections:

[P]rice controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.”

The evidence and real-world impacts are frankly beyond dispute.  Accordingly, it’s now up to reasonable members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to oppose Joe Biden’s proposed 2024 budget and the SPA and avert the predictable deadly economically destructive consequences.


June 23rd, 2023 at 11:05 am
Image of the Day: The DeSantis/Newsom Debate, Illustrated
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California Governor Gavin Newsom, who faced recall despite his state’s deep-blue status, continues his bizarre campaign to pick fights with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and can attempt to spin California’s disastrous social and economic decline any way he’d like.  The numbers, however, don’t lie.  Rhetoric is cheap, but people vote with their dollars and feet.  And in that measure, Newsom’s California suffers alongside his deep-blue brethren, as illustrated by our economist friend Steve Moore using official U.S. Census Bureau data:

DeSantis vs. Newsome in One Picture

DeSantis vs. Newsom in One Picture

 


June 20th, 2023 at 3:43 pm
What Is the DCA Act and How Would It Improve Air Travel?
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The bipartisan Direct Capital Access (DCA) Act – recently introduced in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate – aims to reform antiquated legislation from 1966 artificially restricting nonstop flights into and out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Since the DCA Act (H.R. 3185, S. 1933) was introduced in the House by Congressmen Burgess Owens (R – Utah) and Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) and in the Senate by Senators Cynthia Lummis (R – Wyoming) and Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia), opponents have lobbed false claims about its impact on regional airports.

Accordingly, it’s time to clear up any confusion and provide the corrective facts.

As background, the DCA Act would make travel to and from the Washington, D.C. region easier and more affordable for Americans by updating a decades-old “perimeter rule” federal regulation. That rule from 1966 limits direct flights to and from Reagan National Airport (DCA) to destinations within a 1,250 mile “perimeter.” The rule is a relic of a bygone era of air travel that only kneecaps modern travelers with fewer direct flight options and higher ticket prices.

As the DCA Act has gained support from lawmakers, several self-interested parties like the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) recently partnered with United Airlines to stop efforts to increase access to the nation’s capital region because the current antiquated restrictions benefit them.

Let’s Set the Record Straight:

MYTH: Groups working with MWAA and United Airlines falsely claim that any changes to the 1966 perimeter rule would harm regional airports and their communities.

FACT: The DCA Act would only add more incoming and outgoing flights, not replace or eliminate any existing flights that currently service regional airports. There are only additional benefits here!

MYTH: Those who oppose more airline competition and lower ticket prices for their own benefit falsely claim that Reagan National Airport currently operates at maximum capacity, and cannot handle increased traffic from additional flights.

FACT: A recent study released by Capital Access Alliance revealed that not only does Reagan National have the capacity to handle many more flights per day, but also that MWAA’s recent Project Journey $1 billion expansion provided passengers at DCA with more post-security space and a new 14-gate concourse. That created more than what is needed to accommodate higher passenger volumes and more direct flights to Reagan National.

MYTH: Another false claim is that the DCA Act must be opposed in order to strengthen and protect regional airports across America.

FACT: Only a handful of members of the Coalition to Protect America’s Airports, the United Airlines/MWAA-supported group attempting to block the DCA Act, maintain direct flights from Reagan National. What they really advocate is keeping a nearly 60-year-old perimeter rule established by Congress to stifle competition and limit choices that Americans can make on air travel resulting in higher costs.

The facts are clear. Those who oppose the DCA Act are endorsing protectionist policies that prevent Americans from enjoying more convenience and affordable choices. It’s time to modernize.

Tell Congress to act and support the DCA Act.


June 16th, 2023 at 1:43 pm
Live Nation Announces “All-In Pricing” Market Solution to Ticket Purchase Experience, but Congress Can Do More
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This week, live entertainment promotion and ticket company Live Nation announced a market solution to address longstanding concerns regarding the consumer ticket purchase experience.  After advocating for “all-in pricing” for some time, the idea will take effect this September:

With all-in pricing, fans can see upfront the full ticket price, including fees.  Fans typically know tickets will include service fees, but seeing the total cost from the start makes buying tickets easier and consistent with other retail shopping experiences.”

While this constitutes a significant step forward and illustrates the marketplace at work, an important role remains for Congress to pass further reforms to protect artists’ ability to determine how tickets to their own performances will be sold and distributed, as well as their fans’ ability to actually see their favorite artists perform.

Specifically, predatory ticket resellers currently engage in practices that harm both the artists and their fans.  For example, resale ticket prices on Stubhub alone have shot up over 100% since just 2019, even though the face value of the tickets they resell have only risen 10%.  Although a patchwork of state laws currently exist, Congress can streamline consumer protections and artist rights by finally passing laws making it illegal for predatory resellers, ticket brokers and ticketing platforms to disregard artists’ and venues’ agreed-upon terms and conditions for performances, which should include restrictions on price-gouging by reselling tickets above face value.  Currently, some practices render everyday fans unable to attend their favorite artists’ performances.

The Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, for instance, can be fortified by Congress to guarantee that real, actual fans, rather than bots employed by predatory resellers, get first opportunities to purchase tickets to performances.

This week’s announcement on “all-in pricing” offers a welcome improvement.  Now it’s time for Congress to move the ball further forward.

 


June 6th, 2023 at 11:45 am
Image of the Day: The Ongoing Biden Pay Cut
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Posted without additional commentary, per the latest Labor Department data, here’s an illustration from economist Steve Moore of the immediate and ongoing pay cut that Americans have experienced since Joe Biden became president:

The Biden Pay Cut

The Biden Pay Cut


May 30th, 2023 at 4:59 pm
Image of the Day: U.S. Public Trust in Media Lowest in the World
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It’s difficult to say they haven’t earned it:  When it comes to public trust in media, the U.S. stands lower than any other nation:

U.S. Claims Lowest Public Trust in Media

U.S. Claims Lowest Public Trust in Media

 


May 30th, 2023 at 10:27 am
Former Acting Director Homan: ICE Must Use Readily Available Tools to Mitigate Crisis at the Border
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In a recent opinion piece published by Breitbart, former Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tom Homan discusses how the United States can mitigate the impending disaster at our nation’s Southern border in the aftermath of Title 42’s expiration. When in effect, Title 42 enabled border patrol agents to immediately expel migrants trying to cross the border in the interest of public health during the Covid19 emergency.

A seasoned expert on immigration and border security with nearly five decades of experience in law enforcement, Homan writes that with the enormous backlog of immigration cases and thousands more entering the country illegally each day, ICE must fill every detention bed it has available. Additionally, he emphasizes the need for the Biden administration to increase funding for additional beds at detention facilities and track the non-detained population with GPS technology to ensure compliance with court dates and orders for removal.

Homan writes:

There are over five million illegal immigrants on ICE’s non-detained docket, most of whom face years of court proceedings before a judge determines their immigration fate. This number will continue to balloon after the Biden Administration ended the use of Title 42 deportations on May 11, a COVID-era policy that allowed the U.S. to immediately expel millions of illegal aliens as a threat to public health.

In the run up to the end of the policy this month, daily border encounters soared to historic heights, with over 10,000 per day. On May 11, Border Patrol paroled 6,000 migrants to the streets of the United States with no court date even provided, simply relying on the honor system in the hopes these individuals would proactively check in with ICE at some point in the future. This policy of mass parole has since been put on temporary hold by a Florida judge.

This is open borders policy, any way you look at it. While this is occurring, ICE detention beds, already funded by the taxpayer, still sit empty, to the tune of 10,000 or more. Equally as bad, ICE could be tracking illegal aliens with GPS monitoring, but for some reason is refusing to do so on the necessary scale to deal with the migration surge promoted by Biden’s poor policy decisions.

Read the rest of the piece on Breitbart here.


May 15th, 2023 at 3:10 pm
Image of the Day: The Record Biden Earnings Bust
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We recently referenced how Joe Biden seeks a 2024 job extension from American voters even while he has presided over a record 24 consecutive months of earnings declines (wages minus inflation), and our friend Stephen Moore offers an instructive illustration of the point:

Record Biden Earnings Bust

Record Biden Earnings Bust

 


May 15th, 2023 at 11:14 am
Without Certificate of Need Laws, States Would Have More Hospitals
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Last week was National Hospital Week, when we recognized and expressed our gratitude for hospitals, health care facilities and caregivers who provide vital health care services across the nation. National Hospital Week also serves as a reminder that antiquated and burdensome Certificate of Need (CON) laws create government red tape and needlessly empower unelected bureaucrats to limit access to care.

Recently, the Beacon Center of Tennessee released a report showing how, in the last two decades, CON laws have prevented up to 63 new hospitals in Tennessee and deprived Tennessee communities of $733.6 in direct investment. The report also found that Tennessee has seen a 70 percent decrease in applications for new health care facilities and expanded services since 2004 due to the state’s CON laws.

Florida has seen a rapid increase in new hospitals and other healthcare facilities since its Certificate of Need requirements were dropped a couple of years ago.

It’s no wonder that South Carolina in recent weeks repealed its CON laws and Georgia is working to follow suit.

CON laws limit patient access to care and increase health care costs by preventing new health care facilities from opening, particularly in rural communities that desperately need health care infrastructure.

Lawmakers in states where CON laws still exist should recognize the obvious harm they cause and move to fully repeal them.


May 8th, 2023 at 4:31 pm
South Carolina Moves to Repeal Certificate of Need Laws, Tennessee and Others Should Follow
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The South Carolina Legislature voted last week to repeal the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) laws. The legislation, which immediately eliminates CON requirements for the majority of health care facilities and establishes a three-year CON “sunset” period for existing hospitals, serves as a massive victory against unelected bureaucrats who have been unnecessarily empowered to block patients’ access to new healthcare facilities and services.

In Tennessee, similar antiquated CON laws continue to stifle the free market, limit access to affordable health care choices and deprive communities across the state of critical jobs and investment. Tennessee’s CON laws require health care providers in the state, even private ones, to receive government permission slips approved by unelected government bureaucrats prior to opening new facilities or offering new health care services.

CFIF has been actively advocating full repeal of Tennessee’s CON laws.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee outlined the devastating impact CON laws have on the state in a report released earlier this year. Over the last twenty years, CON laws have:

  • Cost the state more than 60 additional hospitals – many in underserved or rural areas.
  • Denied 5.5 million Tennesseans increased access to much-needed new health care services.
  • Deprived local communities of $733 million dollars of direct investment.

Florida, a conservative state that prioritizes free-market solutions and medical freedom, has experienced a rapid increase in new health care facilities since repealing its Certificate of Need requirements.

Tennessee should follow its Southern neighbors’ example and eliminate its remaining CON laws during next year’s legislative session. Doing so would remove burdensome and unnecessary government red tape that currently serves as a barrier to new health care choices, restore medical freedoms and increase access to affordable, high-quality health care for Tennesseans across the state.


April 26th, 2023 at 3:16 pm
CFIF Proudly Celebrates World Intellectual Property (IP) Day
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Today is World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, and CFIF is proud to join a broad coalition of conservative, libertarian and free-market organizations in celebrating a key element that not only drives worldwide innovation and prosperity, but also is the central component explaining American Exceptionalism in worldwide innovation, power and prosperity.

In that latter regard, nothing stands above our enduring legacy of protecting IP – patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.  America throughout its history has protected IP like no other nation before or since.  Our Founding Fathers deliberately inserted text protecting IP rights into Article I of the Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall have the Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”  As James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers while advocating ratification of the Constitution, protecting IP respected the natural right of individuals to enjoy the fruits of their labors, while also serving the public good by encouraging innovation.

That assurance that one’s creations will enjoy legal protection in turn promotes creative activity, which is why patent holder Abraham Lincoln noted that America’s IP protections, “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”

Consequently, no nation spanning the entirety of human history even approaches America’s record of patented invention, from the telephone to the airplane, from lifesaving pharmaceuticals like the polio vaccine to the internet.   No society remotely rivals our copyrighted artistic influence, whether in the form of motion pictures, television programming or popular music.  No nation’s trademarks stand recognized in the way that the Coca-Cola or Apple logos are instantly identified across the world.  A direct relationship exists between our tradition of IP protection and our unrivaled success in innovation and prosperity.

That’s precisely why CFIF is so pleased to join other organizations here in the U.S. and across the globe in celebrating World IP Day, highlighting IP’s critical importance:

On World IP Day, we celebrate the role intellectual property plays in bolstering entrepreneurship, innovation, economic growth and quality job creation…

The U.S IP system drives economic growth, accounting for $7.8 trillion in GDP (41% of total GDP) and more than 47 million jobs.  Direct and indirect employment in IP industries accounts for 44% of U.S. jobs.

IP-intensive industries create high-paying jobs.  Average weekly-wage earnings are 60% higher than earnings in other sectors.  Accelerating the growth rate of women who participate in IP-intensive industries means increasing their earning power and financial well-being.

Unfortunately, some politicians here in America and abroad fail to respect the role of IP in boosting innovation and wellbeing, and actively seek to undermine it with such misguided efforts as surrendering patent rights to Covid vaccines developed in the U.S.

We cannot let that occur, lest Americans and billions across the world suffer.  Accordingly, on this World Intellectual Property Day, we urge national governments, policymakers and other organizations around the world to promote policies that strengthen intellectual property protections and ensure that a healthy innovation environment can thrive.


April 20th, 2023 at 12:43 pm
CFPB, Like the IRS Before It, Suffers a “Major Breach” Affecting Over 250,000 Americans
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For years CFIF has highlighted how the IRS has not only targeted conservative and libertarian organizations for persecution, but also suffered security breaches allowing online extremists to release Americans’ sensitive data to the world.  Now, the equally abusive (and obviously misnamed) Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has suffered a similar breach.  Specifically, the CFPB acknowledges that an employee breached and forwarded the data of over 250,000 Americans in what it labels a “major breach”:

The CFPB said an employee forwarded the personal information of more than a quarter-million consumers to a personal email account, an incident that the bureau described as a ‘major’ breach.  The employee, who was fired when the data breach came to light, sent spreadsheets with names and transaction-specific account numbers related to those 256,000 consumer accounts at a single institution, according to the bureau.”

Separately, and confirming our reference to CFPB abusiveness above, our friend John Berlau along with Stone Washington of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) write in today’s Wall Street Journal how the CFPB is suing and attempting to censor the owner of nonbank mortgage firm Townstone Financial for discussing out-of-control crime in the Chicago area on a radio show to general audiences.  You can’t make this up:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal bureaucracy with a vast jurisdiction, is testing a novel approach to crime and punishment.  In a lawsuit against Townstone Financial, a small Chicago-area nonbank mortgage firm, the CFPB is signaling that it may attempt to punish anyone who complains about neighborhood crime.

The CFPB accuses Townstone owner Barry Sturner and others affiliated with the company of making ‘statements that would discourage African-American prospective applicants from applying for mortgage loans.’  The suit, filed in 2020, doesn’t provide any concrete examples of  consumers that Townstone has allegedly mistreated.  Rather, the CFPB points to a handful of statements Mr. Sturner and other company officials made over a four-year period on the Townstone Financial Show – a weekly radio program and podcast.”

And here’s the kicker:  Mr. Sturner was simply saying things similar to what soft-on-crime Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson has himself said about Chicago crime:

Among the statements highlighted in the lawsuit are Mr. Sturner’s descriptions of frequent weekend crime rampages on Chicago’s South Side as the work of ‘hoodlums’ and his claim that police are keeping the city from ‘turning into a real war zone.’  The CFPB also wags its finger at a host’s description of a Chicago suburb as an area in which ‘you drive very fast through’ and ‘you don’t look at anybody or lock on anybody’s eyes.’

The CFPB contends that these statements about majority-black communities would somehow ‘discourage prospective applicants from applying for mortgage loans.’  Yet the Townstone hosts’ candid comments about the crime epidemic in Chicago’s black neighborhoods are remarkably similar to recent statements of Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson.

Despite Mr. Johnson’s past association with the ‘defund the police’ movement, he spoke openly in his campaign about the effect of crime on Chicago’s neighborhoods.  In a March 16 debate with Paul Vallas, Mr. Johnson described Austin – his own West Side neighborhood – as ‘one of the most violent neighborhoods in the entire city.’  In his April 4 victory address Mr. Johnson said he’d shielded his children ‘from bullets that fly right outside our front door.'”

It all points to a bureaucratic abusiveness that we address this week regarding the vast federal administrative state, and shows the need for courts and elected officials to rein it in.  In the meantime, the CFPB should pay more attention to its own dangerous data breaches, and less what is said on radio shows.

 

 


April 5th, 2023 at 6:50 pm
Labor Department Must Address “Shared Savings Fees” to Boost Healthcare Transparency and Target Unnecessary Costs
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In our contentious national healthcare debate, there’s one point on which we can all find a rare point of consensus:  the benefit of achieving greater transparency in medical billing and fees.  

Unfortunately, the manner by which the Biden Administration has implemented the “No Surprises Act” that took effect on January 1 so far has failed to protect consumers from obscure and needless insurance costs.  Although the No Surprises Act aimed to reform the out-of-network reimbursement process, some insurance companies continue to exploit what are known as “shared savings fees,” which in turn keeps costs higher than necessary for both employers and their employees alike.  

The Department of Labor, however, can help rectify the problem by requiring greater transparency going forward.  

By way of background, “shared savings fees” derive from out-of-network medical claims, and more specifically refer to out-of-network cost-management fees.  They’re sold to health insurance plan sponsors, typically employers, as a form of protection against surprise medical bills charged to employees.  In other words, shared savings fees ostensibly provide a mechanism for employers to save money by lowering out-of-network healthcare costs when they arise.  

The problem is that in practice, they often impose hidden fees that result in higher premiums and dubious benefits for plan sponsors and covered employees, as we explained alongside a dozen other free-market organizations in a recent coalition letter to the U.S. Secretary of Labor:    

In some cases, shared savings fees exceed total administrative fees for many plan sponsors, and some may not even be aware of the total amount they are paying in those fees.  That is partly a function of a significant lack of transparency, since insurance companies do not routinely report their revenues from shares savings programs.  Unfortunately, the No Surprises Act does not directly address those fees, and we believe that insurers should more responsibly disclose the fees that plan sponsors are charged every year to help reduce healthcare prices for millions of American families.   

The No Surprises Act should’ve made shared savings fees unnecessary.  As long as shared savings fees continue to exist as “administrative fees,” the problem of higher healthcare costs and fewer choices for consumers will fester.  The Labor Department must therefore require higher transparency and full disclosure to employers and other health plan sponsors regarding shared savings fees to help resolve this outstanding and wholly unnecessary problem.  


April 3rd, 2023 at 12:17 pm
Image of the Day: Voting With Their Feet, Americans Abandoned Blue States for Red States Over the Past Decade
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In our ongoing political debates, leftists can virtue signal all they want, but facts don’t lie.  In this case, the Census Bureau’s facts over the past decade relating to domestic migration illustrate whose policy model Americans prefer:

Facts Don't Lie, Leftists Do

Facts Don’t Lie, Leftists Do

 


March 28th, 2023 at 1:09 pm
Steve Forbes: ‘It’s Time to Get Rid of the Biggest CON Job in Healthcare’
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Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes, recently released a video calling for citizens and local groups to “demand their legislators get rid of” Certificate of Need (CON) laws. Currently, 35 states and Washington, D.C. still have CON laws on the books.

Forbes outlines the flawed CON approval process that requires special government permission for private health care providers to build new hospitals or expand the services they offer. Additionally, Forbes explains how CON laws disrupt competition in the healthcare market and limit access to care while increasing costs for consumers.

In Tennessee, where CFIF has been actively advocating full repeal of the state’s remaining CON laws, such laws continue to stifle the free market, limit access to health care choices for Tennesseans and deprive communities of critical investment. A recent Beacon Center of Tennessee report found that over the last two decades, the state’s CON laws have cost Tennessee up to 63 hospitals, many of them in underserved rural areas. In total, 5.5 million Tennesseans have been denied increased access to health care services and local communities have lost out on over $700 million dollars in direct investment as a result of the state’s CON laws.

KEY EXCERPTS FROM THE VIDEO:

  • “CONs restrict competition and promote regional and local monopolies, which means higher prices and restricted access to medical care. After all, approval boards are often loaded with personnel tied to existing facilities. It’s like a panel of people from McDonalds passing judgment on an application for a new Wendy’s. To obtain a certificate of need is not cheap, what with unavoidable outlays for lawyers and consultants, not to mention unnecessary time delays.”
  • “CONs are costly. The Kaiser family Foundation found that states with CON laws have higher health care costs than states that don’t. A study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University confirms that CON states have fewer hospitals, fewer beds and fewer service centers per capita than CON-free states.”

Watch the Video Here


March 14th, 2023 at 9:21 am
Image of the Day: Paying Their “Fair Share?”
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We recently highlighted the preposterousness of Joe Biden’s ceaseless talking point that wealthier Americans don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes, as well as the insanity of resting his tax and budgetary policy on that false claim.  In reality, wealthier Americans’ share of income taxes paid dwarfs their share of income earned, and the Tax Foundation offers a helpful comparison graph illustrating our point perfectly:

Paying Their

Paying Their “Fair Share?”


February 17th, 2023 at 4:57 pm
Big Labor Targets Tech Company findhelp
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Here at CFIF, we’ve written at length about how unionization rates in the United States have reached record lows. Despite talk of Big Labor’s resurgence, spurred by a pro-union White House and a federal government that tips the scales in unions’ favor, American workers are just not sold by the self-enrichment of union leadership and hostile negotiating practices that ultimately harm workers more than help them.

America’s growing tech sector, which typically maintains non-unionized workforces, perfectly illustrates today’s workforce realities.

A company named findhelp in Austin, Texas, however, suddenly finds itself at the center of an unwanted drama that threatens the company’s future courtesy of Big Labor.

By way of background, findhelp is a social care network to connect people with community services. It’s a “public benefit company” backed by private equity that employs approximately 250 workers.

On January 25, the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) announced that findhelp workers formally sought a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Naturally, deep-pocketed Big Labor groups like the AFL-CIO leapt at the announcement to claim it as some sort of watershed moment for workers in the tech sector.

Instead of a watershed moment, however, the reality appears to be Big Labor doing what it is notorious for doing: instigating worker unrest. This case offers a particularly chosen opportunity to Big Labor, as it desperately seeks to gain a foothold in the tech sector, and in a right-to-work state whose growing population and business prosperity are due in large part to the fact that it remains a refuge from the destructive public policies pushed by Big Labor.

At the center of the effort to unionize findhelp’s employees is the “findhelp Solidarity Network,” a glossy, public relations effort claiming employees at the company are “missing a voice at the table.” Parroting commonplace Big Labor Union slogans, it expresses a desire to “ensure that findhelp becomes, and stays, a place where all team members have a living wage, competitive benefits, and a respectful work culture.”

Those are curious charges against a tech start-up like findhelp, but ones that are all too recognizable for anyone familiar with Big Labor’s antics.

Meanwhile, on the popular company-review website Glassdoor, findhelp maintains an average rating of 3.4 out of 5. Companies like findhelp in early stages of development naturally experience growing pains, and complaints on Glassdoor by current and past employees like issues with “transparency,” “trust,” and management allegedly refusing to respond to employee feedback are commonplace at start-ups. An NLRB complaint charges findhelp with coercive actions, coercive rules and coercive statements, among other typical boilerplate union charges. Which raises the question of whether such commonplace complaints justify a full-blown union representation campaign threatening to drive a fledgling company into the ground through union representation.

It also makes for an odd irony, because many tech sector companies maintain left-leaning employee cultures, often at the encouragement of left-leaning executives themselves. Accordingly, one might expect them to welcome unionization, since in the abstract those same left-leaning cultures would favor Big Labor and its partisan agenda.

Tech sector employers, however, operate in an environment demanding fluid development and the ability to pivot on a moment’s notice. Unions, by their very nature, inhibit that sort of fluidity and flexibility.

It’s an issue of obvious concern for management, investors and even customers who may question the ability of a company with Big Labor’s bullseye on its back to function as effectively and efficiently as needed.

Unfortunately, all of this threatens to further embolden Big Labor, which may in turn have a substantial impact on startup companies across our economy, particularly in the tech sector.

In the meantime, all eyes will be watching findhelp and how it navigates this sudden and unwanted disruption.