Vox: “For first time, the Senate will consider legalizing medical marijuana”

Vox.com reports on a new initiative in Washington D.C. that will expand freedom for users of medical marijuana:

1Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday will introduce a bill that would legalize medical marijuana at the federal level.

2The bill would reclassify marijuana in the federal scheduling system from schedule 1 to 2.

3The bill would also permanently prohibit the federal government from shutting down medical marijuana operations in states where pot is legal for medicinal purposes.

Full report @ http://www.vox.com/2015/3/9/8177969/senate-medical-marijuana

Additional information on this initiative @ http://rare.us/story/rand-paul-cory-booker-and-kirsten-gillibrand-to-introduce-federal-medical-marijuana-bill/

Why is Government so Punitive?

It is almost the end of February, and many are still preparing their federal income tax. Perhaps you are also. And while you prepare to render unto Caesar, you have to make some decisions. Do you have an Individual Retirement Account? If so, how much will you pay into it? Do you have a Medical Savings Account? A decision about that also must be made near the beginning of the year.

If you save for retirement in an Individual Retirement Account, your tax bill is deferred on the amount you contribute to the account. But if you need access to some of the money before you reach the age of 59 and a half, you have to not only pay the income tax on the amount you withdraw, you must also pay a penalty to the federal government.

If you have a Medical Savings Account, you can pay for incidental medical expenses, co-pays, and your deductible, with money not subject to income tax. But be careful! If you put more into your account at the beginning of the year than you use in the year, you lose the balance. You cannot roll it over, even though that would help provide money for larger medical bills in the future.

Why is government so punitive? I guess they justify the tax penalty on Individual Retirement Accounts on the premise that if you withdraw money before you retire, the account is not serving its purpose of providing for your retirement. But paying a penalty to the federal government will not help you save for retirement either.

There is no justification for the “use it or lose it” rule for Medical Savings Accounts. Everyone knows that medical costs rise year after year, and saving year after year can be important when a major medical procedure is needed.

The Affordable Care Act also has its punitive side. By now, everyone has heard horror stories about big jumps in the cost of an insurance policy, mitigated somewhat by federal “subsidies.” Of course, the subsidies are really tax credits. The federal government will allow us to keep some of the money we earned, in order to pay the inflated premiums, and they expect us to be grateful for their “generosity.” The purpose of the tax credit “subsidies” is to disguise how much government rules have driven up the cost of medical insurance.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that every policy include a variety of benefits, each of which adds to the cost of the premium. In many cases, individuals are required to pay for benefits that they don’t need; older people who don’t need birth control subsidize the contraceptive benefit for younger people. At the same time, restrictions on raising premium rates for older people result in young people subsidizing older people. Ultimately, the choice is taken from the consumer, who is not allowed to choose the benefits for which he is willing to pay a premium, and all consumers lose.

While the ACA mandates a minimum list of benefits, and prohibits the sale of policies that don’t include the full list, you can also be punished if you buy a policy, or your employer provides a medical policy that includes too many benefits. The Congress imposed a tax on “Cadillac” policies, which provide a rich menu of benefits. This tax was included in order to help provide funding for the “subsidies” that the ACA provides, but it shows a complete contempt for Americans. You are required to buy the policy the government mandates – nothing less, and you are taxed if you buy more.

All these policies illustrate the basic fact that government is based on punishing those who do not find government mandates beneficial. Government does not try to persuade by showing benefits, but by threatening punishment. As George Washington noted long ago: “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force, and like fire, it is a dangerous servant.”

(By Gene Berkman, Editor, California Libertarian Report)

NBC News:”Obama admin. knew millions could not keep their health insurance”

Lisa Myers & Hanna Rappleye report that:

President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”
Full report @ NBC News http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/28/21213547-obama-admin-knew-millions-could-not-keep-their-health-insurance?lite

Hat tip to Nick Gillespie @ Reason Hit & Run

Los Angeles Times reports on Medical Insurance “Sticker Shock”

All attention has been on the failed roll-out of the internet based “medical insurance exchanges” that are a central feature of President Obama’s healthcare reform. But the Los Angeles Time reports on a bigger problem – the Affordable Care Act threatens to make medical insurance unaffordable for large numbers of Americans.

Some supporters of Obamacare contend that we should accept price increases for some people in order to pay the cost of insuring the uninsured. But the Affordable Care Act goes beyond simplye requiring people to buy medical insurance. It mandates that all insurance plans must provide a standard set of benefits, rather than allowing people to choose the insurance benefits they want and that they want to pay for.

Many states already mandate a variety of mandated benefits, and that is a cause of the rising cost of healthcare insurance. The new federal law goes beyond already existing mandates, requiring that medical insurance cover birth control, mental health therapy and other benefits targeted to specific groups in the population. While it might be good to have these benefits as possible add-ons for people who do want to pay to have protection, requiring everyone to buy the same benefit package will make medical insurance more expensive for millions.

The new mandates contradict President Obama’s promise that “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” The Los Angeles Times reports:
Fullerton resident Jennifer Harris thought she had a great deal, paying $98 a month for an individual plan through Health Net Inc. She got a rude surprise this month when the company said it would cancel her policy at the end of this year. Her current plan does not conform with the new federal rules, which require more generous levels of coverage.

Now Harris, a self-employed lawyer, must shop for replacement insurance. The cheapest plan she has found will cost her $238 a month.
This is just one example, but as the insurance exchanges become active and people see what they will be required to pay, the honeymoon for the Affordable Care Act will come to an end.

The full article from The Los Angeles Times can be read @ http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-health-sticker-shock-20131027,0,2756077.story#axzz2j4EwYjar