Nebraska Voters, We Are Nearing a National Crisis …

 

Our debt is growing so fast that we will soon be bankrupt if we don’t change what we are doing. We have simply got to figure out how to fix the debt. I am Jack Heidel, a retired UNO math professor and not looking for a new career.  I am confident that I can make a difference in one six year term in the U.S. Senate. Please vote for me on May 15 in the Republican Primary.

This is the text of a TV commercial which begins running this weekend in the Omaha and Lincoln areas. It attempts to summarize in one short statement what I have been saying for a long time:

  • Our debt (the public part on which we pay interest) is now 78% of GDP and predicted by the Congressional Budget Office to reach almost 100% in the next ten years. Annual deficits are growing rapidly and will be back to almost $1 trillion by next year.
  • The incumbent Deb Fischer is totally ignoring the debt and has actually voted twice recently to make it worse than it already is. The new tax law, for all of its good individual features, will increase the debt by $1 trillion over ten years, even after new growth is taken into account. The new two year budget, also voted for by Fischer, increases the debt by another $1 trillion.
  • Fixing the debt doesn’t mean paying it off but rather shrinking annual deficits way down so that they are less than the rate of growth of GDP. Then the debt will begin to shrink as a percentage of GDP just as it did after WWII.
  • Entitlement reform and, in particular, the high cost of American healthcare, is the only practical way to deal with the debt problem. All of us, as healthcare consumers, must have more personal responsibility for holding down the cost of our own healthcare.

Conclusion. I am so alarmed by our enormous and out-of-control debt that I am challenging an incumbent U.S. Senator in a primary election. If you live in Nebraska I would appreciate your support!

OK, I’m Serious about Fixing the Debt, How Will It Happen?

 

I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate against the incumbent Deb Fischer because she is ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt.  In my last post I laid out the reasons why you should believe me when I say I will make fixing the debt my top priority.


So let’s assume that I replace Deb Fischer in the Senate.  Then what will happen?  Lots of things:

  • First of all, it will show that Nebraska voters understand how serious our debt problem is and are willing to support a candidate who can argue convincingly that we must fix it. Such an outcome in just one state will attract national attention and therefore greatly increase national awareness of the debt problem.
  • From day one in January 2019, I would start agitating with Democratic and Republican senators alike for action on the debt issue. Keep in mind that I am a non-ideological fiscal conservative. I am confident that many other senators understand the inherent magnitude of the debt problem and would respond in a positive manner to a bipartisan attempt to find a workable solution.
  • Any effective solution must involve entitlement reform which is a highly charged issue. In particular, it is the high cost of both public and private healthcare which is the main problem.  Basically we need to move away from defined benefit healthcare towards defined contribution healthcare which would likely take the form of high deductible catastrophic care plus health savings accounts. Any widely acceptable plan would have to be universal (i.e. include everyone) and provide adequate subsidies so that everyone can afford it. Here is one possible way to do it.

Conclusion. Our debt problem is solvable but it will take a lot of dedicated effort by national leaders to actually get this done. The sooner we get started the easier it will be to move forward.

Addressing the High Cost of American Healthcare

 

I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate because the incumbent, Deb Fischer, is ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt.  Of course, there are many other important issues addressed by Congress and my last two posts, here, and here, discuss the need for more gun control to reduce the number of mass shootings in the U.S.
Now it’s back to (fiscal) basics.


The Kaiser Foundation has discovered that by far the top issue of concern for voters this year is the high cost of healthcare. Here are some of the many reasons why this should be a very top priority for deliberation in Congress:

  • The cost of healthcare is the fundamental driver of our debt problem.

  • Three major corporations: Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase are banding together to lower healthcare costs for their own employees.  All companies have similar concerns.
  • A major reason for the high cost of American healthcare is the employer mandate  of the ACA which requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for all employees.
  • Huge savings for employees, employers and government could be had by modifying the employer mandate to give employees the option to migrate to personal healthcare insurance, see here and here.

Conclusion. “The federal government’s most urgent domestic challenge is the exploding debt and deficit.”  Getting healthcare costs under control is the key to solving our debt problem and reducing a major expense for millions of American families.

The Key to Solving our Healthcare Cost Problem II. Make the Employer Mandate More Flexible

 

I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for U.S. Senate.  I have entered this contest because the incumbent, Deb Fischer, has done nothing to reduce our enormous and out-of-control national debt and, in fact, voted recently (with the new tax law) to increase our debt by $1 trillion over the next decade.  And this is after new economic growth, stimulated by the tax changes, is taken into account.


One way to get the debt under control is with a more sensible budgeting process, but this is not enough by itself.


We also need a major effort to reduce the cost of healthcare.  One problem here is that employer provided health insurance is very inefficient, especially because it insulates employees from the full price of their healthcare. The way to fix this is to make the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act more flexible in the following ways:

  • Replace income based tax credits in the ACA with aged-based tax credits (which then apply to everyone). See here for details.
  • Allow individual employees to migrate away from the employer plan to individually underwritten personal insurance. This will often save money for the individual employee (and family), the employer (who has fewer employees to cover) and the government (which has a smaller tax exemption). The employees also gain more flexibility for future employment.
  • Such a system, when fully implemented, will save $400 billion per year in government revenue, both state and federal.

Conclusion. I have outlined one way of moving from the defined benefit healthcare system we have now to a defined contribution system which will save hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars every year by putting more responsibility on the individual health consumer.

The Key to Solving our Healthcare Cost Problem

 

My last three posts: herehere, and here, are concerned with the high cost of American healthcare and how this is so closely tied in with our very large and badly out-of-control national debt. In particular, three giant American companies: Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase are forming an independent healthcare company to try to hold down healthcare costs for their combined one million employees in the U.S.


Dr. Elizabeth Rosenthal, an MD and editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, points out that this new company may help its own members but end up hurting the rest of us:

  • Previous efforts along the same line by Safeway and Boeing have held down costs for the companies own employees but are too small scale to have had broader impact.
  • The new company, much larger in size, may be able to negotiate lower prices from labs and hospitals for its own members. But then these same labs and hospitals will charge more for everyone else.

Moreover, in general, employer based healthcare insurance has lots of problems:

  • It diminishes incentives to reduce costs by insulating workers from the full price of their benefits.
  • It discourages changes that could displease even a small number of workers, thereby creating incentives to minimize disruption.
  • The pervasiveness of employer health insurance makes it more difficult for individuals to buy health insurance on their own, thus discouraging entrepreneurship.

Conclusion. Given the inherent flaws in employer provided health insurance, it is unlikely that more innovation by individual companies, or groups of companies, will lead to an overall solution to the exorbitant cost of American healthcare.
The solution lies in a different direction: ending or at least modifying the ACA’s employer mandate.  See here for details.  More later!

National Debt and the Cost of Healthcare Go Hand in Hand

 

My last two posts, here and here, point out that:

  • The cost of employer-provided healthcare is going through the roof, now averaging $26,944 for a family of four
  • Medicare beneficiaries are now spending 44% of their average Social Security income on healthcare spending.

Yesterday we learned that three corporate behemoths: Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase will form an independent healthcare company to try to hold down healthcare costs for their combined one million employees in the U.S.


And last night, President Donald Trump, in his generally well-received State of the Union Address, failed to mention our nation’s biggest problem by far: our surging national debt.
And moreover, it is precisely the public cost of healthcare which is driving our debt.
Our country could soon be overwhelmed by a trifecta of huge costs:

  • The cost of healthcare for individual company employees and also for retirees.
  • The cost of healthcare subsidies paid by the federal government.
  • Our rapidly growing and badly out-of-control national debt.

Conclusion. Is it not exceedingly clear that our two polarized political parties must stop spending their time bickering about less important problems and come together to address our huge debt problem and the very high cost of healthcare which is driving it?

The Urgency of Reducing the Cost of American Healthcare

 

Just a few days ago I announced my candidacy in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate against the incumbent Deb Fischer who is doing nothing to reduce our badly out-of-control national debt and, in fact, just voted to increase it by $1 trillion over the next decade.
It is the high cost of government spending for Medicare, Medicaid and the tax exemption for employer-provided care which is the main driver of federal debt.
But healthcare is also getting very, very expensive for American workers and retirees as well.  In my last post, I reported that:

  • A family of four paid $26,944 for healthcare expenses last year which was 44% of median family income of $59,039.

And now the Kaiser Family Foundation has reported that:

  • In 2013 a Medicare beneficiaries’ average out-of-pocket healthcare spending was 41% of their average per capita Social Security income. This will rise to 50% in 2030.

Conclusion.  American healthcare is expensive for workers, retirees and taxpayers. In other words, it is expensive all the way around, for everybody.  There isn’t a lot of slack left to give way.  The cost of healthcare will impoverish our whole country if we can’t get it under control.  Stay tuned for proposed solution.