Covered California to Guarantee Health Insurers’ Profits to Save Obamacare Exchange

covered caCovered California is so desperate to keep insurance companies on its Obamacare exchange that the state plans to guarantee profits to the giant corporations.

Breitbart News reported early this month that despite the annual inflation rate of only 1.6 percent, Covered California is granting healthcare insurers average premium increases of 12.5 percent. But that appears to not be enough to lure insurers to stay on the exchange, if President Trump ends U.S. Treasury “cost-sharing” side payments to insurers that the courts have ruled are illegal.

According to the a study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), titled “The Effects of Terminating Payments for Cost-Sharing Reductions,” Obamacare exchange insurance premiums will spike by another 20 percent in 2018. Given that 75 percent of Obamacare enrollees received free insurance through Medicaid, the CBO estimates that the U.S. deficit will jump by another $194 billion between 2017 and 2026 as a result.

Obamacare was sold to voters on a promise to slash healthcare insurance premiums by up to $2,500 per family. But new mandatory rules caused insurance premiums to spike by 68 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the National Association of State Legislatures.

The national average cost of healthcare for a family of four in the United States is now $17,322. But in highly-regulated California, the average family healthcare premium is even worse, at $18,045.

With the tsunami of cash flooding into the health insurance industry since 2010, profits have more than doubled, and the healthcare stock index is up by 251 percent. The industry’s biggest Obamacare winner has been America’s largest health insurer, United Healthcare. With profits more than tripling since Obamacare passed, United Healthcare’s stock is up a stunning 592 percent.

But with concerns that President Trump or the courts will stop making illegal cost-sharing payments, big insurers like Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna and Humana are duping Obamacare coverage for 2018. One of the reasons that United Healthcare’s stock has been hitting a series of new all-time-highs this month is that the company is cutting its Obamacare coverage from 34 states in 2016 to 3 states in 2017, and possibly leaving Obamacare completely in 2018.

With many of the top health insurance industry players jumping ship on Obamacare, Southern California Public Radio reported that the board of Covered California will consider a plan on August 17 that would incentivize health insurers to offer coverage by guaranteeing that for any lack of profit or losses they suffer in 2018, California will guarantee them the right to jack up profits with higher premium increases in each of the following three years.

Covered California is referring the to the plan as an initiative to address market uncertainty over the actions that might be taken by the Trump administration and the courts.

But “[a]n economic system characterized by close, mutually advantageous relationships between business leaders and government officials” is the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of crony capitalism.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Summer of discontent continues to rage for California progressives

In this photo taken Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, third from left, flanked by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, right, and other Democratic lawmakers, discusses a pair of proposed measures to protect immigrants, during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. California is among the states that voted for Hillary Clinton and that could find themselves at odds with President-elect Donald Trump on such issues as immigration, health care and climate change. Rendon said the intent of the legislation is to put a "firewall" around Californians. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The California progressive movement’s summer of discontent continues, with anger still on display over the abrupt withdrawal of a single-payer health care bill and over the May election of a party insider as California Democratic chairman.

This week, the Associated Press reported that progressives remain interested in pursuing a recall campaign against Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, (pictured) for his decision to kill Senate Bill 562, the Healthy California Act. Los Angeles activist Steve Elzie is a lead organizer.

The California Nurses Association last month paid for two mailers to be sent to constituents in Rendon’s Los Angeles County district blasting him for “holding health care hostage” and “protecting politicians, not people’s health care.” The mailers urged constituents to complain to Rendon’s offices over the decision, but did not advocate a recall.

That decision may reflect that CNA President RoseAnn DeMoro – who initially led the criticism of Rendon – has realized how difficult it would be to ultimately remove him from office.

Obtaining the 20,000-plus signatures needed to trigger a recall election might not be much of a problem, given that single-payer champion Bernie Sanders got 44 percent and 48 percent of the vote in the June 2016 Democratic presidential primary in California’s 38th and 47th Congressional Districts, respectively. The districts cover much of Rendon’s 63rd Assembly District district which includes parts or all of Commerce, Bell, Lynwood, Paramount and Lakewood.

But Rendon has gotten at least 69 percent of the vote in his three Assembly bids. He also has more than $1.2 million in his campaign war chest and has the support of other influential unions, meaning ready access to more donations and help campaigning.

Rendon killed SB562 because he said it failed to adequately identify how it would pay its $400 billion in annual costs to provide health care to every Californian.

‘Berniecrat’ still won’t accept loss in party chair vote

The other flap pitting the party establishment against “Berniecrats” also flared this week when Bay Area political organizer Kimberly Ellis launched a new salvo over her narrow loss for state party chairman to Eric Bauman, a nurse who has long been a fixture in Los Angeles County Democratic politics and was deputy to the last state chair, former Congressman John Burton.

At May’s state Democratic convention in Sacramento, Bauman held off a late surge from the lesser-known Ellis to win 51 percent to 49 percent. Ellis immediately challenged what she said were election irregularities, leading to a July recount in which 47 of about 3,000 ballots were thrown out but Bauman’s margin of victory was unchanged.

Ellis and her fellow Sanders’ supporters, however, still don’t accept the results.

On Tuesday, she called on the California Democratic Party to accept binding arbitration to determine who really won the May election. She hinted it was the only way the party could head off a lawsuit that she suggested last month was forthcoming if she were unhappy with how party officials handled her appeal, which continues this month with a hearing of the Democratic Party credentialing committee.

California Democratic Party spokesman Mike Roth said the party would stick to its rules, which don’t provide for arbitration.

“Ms. Ellis is now deep in her own end zone and throwing a desperate Hail Mary pass in hopes of changing the outcome of an election that she lost fair and square,” Roth said.

But Ellis’ “Vote for Kimberly” website remains unchanged and continues to feature sharp – if indirect – criticisms of Bauman for allegedly close ties to corporate interests.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Covered California announces increased rates of 12.5 percent for its 2018 health insurance plans

As reported by the Orange County Register:

Covered California on Tuesday announced that insurance rates will jump an average of 12.5 percent for next year, amid uncertainty about the future of Obamacare.

“Californians are paying about 3 percent more than they would have if not for the uncertainty,” said Peter Lee, executive director of the state’s exchange.

Additionally, Anthem Blue Cross will stop selling individual health plans in the Southern California market even as it continues to sell plans in parts of Northern and Central California.

“The uncertainty is also having an impact on plan participation,” Lee said. “It’s significant. About 153,000 of (Anthem Blue Cross) consumers will need to shop and change into 2018.”

Last year, rates increased an average of 13 percent statewide, a bigger jump than in 2015. This year, insurance companies were left in the dark as lawmakers pushed a bid to repeal Obamacare to the last possible minute before voting against such a move. …

Click here to read the full article

California single-payer health bill shelved – for now

Pills health careSACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, an avowed supporter of single-payer health care, nevertheless announced last week that he was pulling the plug on a Senate-passed measure that would create such a system in California.

Rendon, who is holding the bill in committee, was only the proximate cause of AB562’s death. Its fate was sealed after a Senate floor analysis last month pinned its likely cost at $400 billion – more than three times the state’s entire general-fund budget.

“It didn’t make any sense,” Rendon recently told the Sacramento Bee. “It just didn’t seem like public policy as much as it seemed a statement of principles. I hope the Senate takes this chance to take the bill more seriously than they did before.”

According to its bill language, the Healthy California Act would “provide comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage and a health care cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state.” The measure would have tossed out California’s myriad systems of private, insurance-backed and government-funded health care and replaced it with a single, government-managed system run by a newly created state agency.

Such a massive change would demand volumes of detailed legislative language, yet the bill itself was remarkably brief and lacking in specifics. It even failed to include any explanation for how it would receive the necessary waivers from the federal government.

The Appropriations Committee analysis concluded the bill would lead to “increased utilization of health care services,” given that all residents would be free to “see any willing provider, to receive any service deemed medically appropriate by a licensed provider, and the lack of cost sharing, in combination, would make it difficult for the program to make use of utilization management tools such as drug formularies, prior authorization requirements, or other utilization management tools.” So all financial bets were off, given an expected – and probably massive – hike in demand.

To fund the $400 billion program, the Appropriations Committee concluded the state would have to raise about $200 billion in new tax revenues. That would mean a new 15 percent payroll tax, with no cap on the wages subject to the tax. Shifting any of those costs from taxpayers to enrollees would be impossible under provisions that prohibit “members from Healthy California from being required to pay any premium” or “from being required to pay any co-payment, co-insurance, deductible and any other form of cost-sharing for all covered benefits.”

State officials often argue about programs that spend millions of dollars, but had a surprisingly short debate about one that would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. One reason that might be is that Gov. Jerry Brown already had expressed deep skepticism about the measure. “This is called ‘the unknown by means of the more unknown,’” he told reporters in March. It was unlikely he would have signed it, especially given his concern about creating new spending programs. Critics argue that the governor’s public views gave Democrats a free pass to vote for it and assuage their political base while knowing it was unlikely to become law. Rendon’s comments to the Bee certainly give ammunition to those who saw the bill as a half-baked “statement” bill.

Support and opposition fell along predictable and partisan lines. Liberal interest groups, unions and Democratic politicians typically supported the bill, while conservative groups, taxpayer organizations and Republicans opposed it. Some groups expressed views similar to Rendon’s – supporting the single-payer concept but expressing concern about specifics.

The latter, cautious point of view won the day. After all, the bill raised more questions than it answered. It’s unclear how the new system would work or how the new government agency would operate. There are questions about the effects a 15 percent payroll tax would on the economy and jobs creation and about the magnet effect if California created an unlimited, valuable new benefit available to anyone who simply lives in the state. There are questions about federal waivers and how the California system would intersect with federal programs. And that’s just for starters.

Instead of trying to answer those questions thoroughly, the bill’s backers did as Rendon suggested – introduced a measure that stated some principles and goals, but didn’t really explain how the state government might fund them. Given the debate the health care issue sparked at the latest state Democratic Party convention and on the floor of the Legislature, it’s clear that the single-payer issue will be around or a while, regardless of the fate of this particular bill.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Supporters of single-payer must explain how to pay for it

Healthcare costsSince the best feature of the Healthy California Act is that all health care will be free, it seems churlish to suggest that someone must pay for something.

Sadly, even after asserting more than $70 billion in new savings from efficiencies that highly motivated private providers and government regulators have not achieved, and after assuming that federal authorities will hand over about $150 billion in program funding and tax subsidies for use by state health care officials, the academics hired by program proponents find that revenues still fall short by $106 billion.

That’s in year one. Before health care inflation kicks in and utilization of free health care services metastasizes. An analysis of the measure by the author’s own staff found that, “Given all the factors that would make utilization management difficult, a 10% utilization increase is likely a conservative assumption.” That translates into tens of billions annually in higher health care costs.

So how does one resolve an annual $106 billion hole in the state’s health care budget?

  • Double the personal income tax? Nope. That will only bring in $89 billion.
  • Quadruple the state sales tax? Nope. That will only bring in $98 billion.
  • Ok, increase the corporate tax by eight-fold. Sorry, that’s just $87 billion.

But California already is a tax machine. This can’t be that hard.

Actually, it isn’t that hard, if you’re willing to dive deeply into the dumpster of discarded ideas.

Voila! That’s where you’ll find the gross receipts tax, the revenue stream preferred by academics supported by the bill’s union sponsors.

A gross receipts tax is levied against the receipts of a sale by a business of a product or a service. According to the Tax Foundation, “gross receipts taxes are largely a historical novelty to the developed world because it is a singularly unsuitable tax for the modern age.” It is economically inefficient, inequitable, and nontransparent.

The tax is not based on profits, wealth, measures of income, or any other indicator of consumption power that is the signal feature of most taxes in modern developed economies.

The tax gives a competitive advantage to bigger businesses that can make their own inputs rather than buy them. As taxes get added to the various stages of production they “pyramid” into the final price, so that the effective tax rate on goods exceeds the tax rates presented to final consumers. Businesses that must pass through this pyramided rate are less competitive than businesses that can integrate value added processes internally.

For the most part, the gross receipts tax is an artifact of history, trendy about a century ago, but abandoned by much of the world for a very long time.

A handful of states have retained versions of a gross receipts tax at very low rates, mostly far less than one percent of sales.

But even more states are abandoning this archaic tax. Indiana, New Jersey, Kentucky and Michigan all repealed their gross receipts taxes within the past 15 years. Even progressive Oregon voters swamped a gross receipts tax at the polls last year.

It takes a tax that bad to support the single-payer plan in California.

The putative rate for the California gross receipts tax would be 2.3 percent, about the same as the 2.5% tax that lost by 19 points in Oregon last year. (Only one state has a gross receipts tax anywhere near this rate, that’s on radioactive waste by Washington state.)

But wait, there’s more.

According to the academics, even a 2.3% gross receipts tax is not enough to close the funding gap for single-payer. (It “only” raises $92.4 billion.) So sponsors also suggest a new sales tax to top up revenues – not only on goods but on many services. This new tax – also at a 2.3% rate – would raise $14.3 billion, the equivalent of a 58% increase of the existing state sales tax.

Still … this may not work.

Implicitly acknowledging that their multi-layered sales tax mechanism may be a nonstarter, the academics suggest a payroll tax as a fallback revenue source to replace the gross receipts tax. While they believe a gross receipts tax is the superior mechanism because it “does not discriminate in its impact between labor-intensive and capital intensive firms,” they nonetheless calculate that a payroll tax paid by both employees and employers at a 3.3% rate would raise sufficient taxes to replace the gross receipts tax and fill the revenue need.

Existing payroll taxes for Social Security, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance are capped at certain wage levels. This new payroll tax would not be capped – similar to the payroll tax for Medicare. The Medicare tax is 1.45% of payroll for both employers and employees, so this new payroll tax would be the equivalent of more than doubling the existing Medicare tax – which taxpayers would continue to pay even if Medicare spending is consolidated with the single-payer plan.

To conclude, under the most absurdly favorable circumstances – never-before achieved cost savings, minimal health care inflation and utilization increases, and enthusiastic cooperation by federal officials – a single-payer plan would require either an untried and economically unsound gross receipts tax, a new sales tax on services, or an record state-level payroll tax.

Yet somehow the single-payer bill is still considered a serious proposal.

resident of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Democrats want to extend health coverage to undocumented immigrants

Health for allCalifornia’s Democratic legislators want to extend health benefits to undocumented young adults, the continuation of an effort that ushered children without legal status into the state’s publicly funded health care system last year.

It is unclear when the program would start or how much the state would spend if the proposal, which could cost up to $85 million a year, is approved by Gov. Jerry Brown. Lawmakers are working out details ahead of their June 15 deadline for passing a new budget.

The plan would provide full-scope coverage for 19-to-26-year-olds who qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s name for Medicaid. Currently, the federally funded program covers only emergency visits and prenatal care for undocumented residents. Under the proposal, revenue from taxes on tobacco products would absorb expenses for all other coverage.

Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens has been one of the strongest voices for expanded care. In 2015, he pushed for coverage for all adults. That proposal was changed to admit only undocumented children; it took effect last year. This year, he said in a recent video message to supporters, “We are going to make the final push to ensure we capture our young adults.”

Supporters’ ultimate goal is to include all undocumented adults, said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a health care consumer group backing the proposal.

“We believe without coverage people are sicker, die younger and are one emergency away from financial ruin. It has consequences for their families and their communities — both health and financial consequences,” he said.

The plan would mean that undocumented children currently in the program would not age out at 19, putting low-income undocumented immigrants on a par with those allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance under Obamacare until they are 26.

Sen. John Moorlach, a Costa Mesa Republican, opposes an extension of benefits. One reason is financial. California doesn’t have “a balance sheet we can brag about,” he said, citing the state’s debt load, among other reasons.

Secondly, he disapproves of illegal immigration. Moorlach migrated to the U.S. legally as a child with his family from the Netherlands.

“I’m kind of offended that we feel an obligation to pay for expenses for those who did not come through the front door,” he said. “I certainly have compassion and want to help people in need, but I’m having difficulty, as a legal immigrant, because we are already in such bad fiscal shape.”

Advocates argue that undocumented immigrants help propel California’s economy with their labor and the taxes they pay, and that they cost the state money when they don’t work because of illness or when they end up in the emergency room.

“Health care is a right,” said Ronald Coleman, director of government affairs for the California Immigrant Policy Center, an advocacy organization and supporter of the proposal. “These are folks we are investing in through the California Dream Act and through other programs our state offers, and it makes sense to invest in our future, which our young adults will be.”

Estimates vary for how many people this expansion of Medi-Cal would serve and what the costs would be. Each house of the Legislature has passed its own version of the proposal, with differing figures attached.

The Assembly allocated $54 million a year to cover an unspecified number of additional enrollees, with a July 2017 start date. The Senate proposed $63.1 million in the first year, beginning in 2018, and $85 million annually thereafter, also without specific population numbers.

Coleman’s center, which is working closely with lawmakers on the issue, estimates about 80,000 new people would be eligible, and the cost would be around $54 million a year. That assumes the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program continues, because it provides access to Medi-Cal. If  DACA were eliminated, the figures would increase to about 100,000 eligible people and about $84 million in annual costs, Coleman said.

The governor’s proposed budget does not include the proposed expansion or any money for it.

Kevin, a 19-year-old Angeleno who asked that only his first name be used because he lives in California illegally, wants the proposal to succeed. He has been working for more than a year to distribute information about Medi-Cal children’s coverage to immigrant families.

He meets all but one of the requirements for DACA: He was not in the country before June 15, 2007. He arrived in the U.S. in 2011 at age 14 from Guatemala, on a visa that later expired. He graduated high school, has no criminal record and is now majoring in Business Administration at California State University, Los Angeles.

“There’s this misunderstanding that young people are healthy,” said Kevin, who suffers from eczema. He worries about the chronic condition flaring up. “When it gets worse, it doesn’t let me do anything with my hands.”

He is enrolled in a county health insurance program for low-income residents, but he can’t afford a dermatologist. He can barely pay for the prescription lotion he uses for the eczema and sometimes goes without it.

“We are trying to have a better economic standard, and we are like the building blocks of this society,” he said. “Having health insurance will allow us to focus more on school and do our regular day-to-day activities. A healthier society works better for everyone.”

If lawmakers can now agree on details, a consensus proposal will go to the full Legislature for approval. The deadline for that is June 12.

This piece was originally published by CalMatters.org

California’s Single-Payer Healthcare Bill Isn’t Based in Reality

As reported by National Review Online:

On Thursday, the California state Senate passed Senate Bill 562, which seeks to establish a statewide single-payer healthcare system.

Democratic senator Ricardo Lara, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, co-authored the bill and advocated its passage, but failed to explain how the proposal’s $400-billion price tag will be financed.

The bill represents a key progressive goal, and yet, it will almost certainly never be signed into law — even though Californians have elected Democratic majorities to both legislative chambers and a Democratic governor. Why not? Because it’s absurdly expensive. This year’s entire state budget is $180 billion. The single-payer system called for in 562 costs more than double that. …

Click here to read the full article

Single-payer health care could cost Californians $400 billion a year

Healthcare costsSACRAMENTO – During the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento last weekend, the spiciest news was outgoing chairman John Burton dropping an f-bomb on a group of activists demanding that the party embrace a single-payer health system. It’s not really news when the notoriously foul-mouthed Burton says such things, but the fracas highlighted the pressure party leadership faces to embrace government-run medical care.

Yet the foulest rebuke to advocates for single payer this week did not take place at the convention. It took place nearby at the state Capitol, in the form of an appropriations committee report that found that a single-payer bill working its way through the state Senate would cost more than double the state’s total budget.

Senate Bill 562, which had previously passed the Senate health committee, was placed in the “suspense file” by the appropriations committee on Monday as legislators analyze the huge price tag. They have until the end of the week to move it out of the file, or it will die this year.

The committee made clear the size of the undertaking: “The fiscal estimates below are subject to enormous uncertainty,” it explained. “Completely rebuilding the California health care system from a multi-payer system into a single payer, fee-for-service system would be an unprecedented change in a large health care market.”

The appropriations analysts estimate an annual cost of $400 billion a year, which soars above the projected $180 billion state budget. Of that cost, the committee explained, about half of it would be covered by existing federal, state and local health care funding. That leaves a $200-billion hole, which the committee says could be covered by a 15 percent payroll tax. Even if the calculation includes reduced health care spending by employers and employees, the committee still estimates a $50-billion to $100-billion shortfall.

And, quite significantly, these costs could be understated given the kind of demand that would be created by this system. Its main advocates, Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, view health care as a “human right,” so the system the bill would create would provide nearly unlimited access to medical care. In fact, the Senate health committee report opined that “SB562 will change health care in California from commodity to a right.”

“Under the bill, enrollee access to services would be largely unconstrained by utilization management tools commonly used by health care payers, including Medi-Cal,” according to the committee report. “The ability for enrollees to see any willing provider, to receive any service deemed medically appropriate by a licensed provider, and the lack of cost sharing, in combination, would make it difficult for the program to make use of utilization management tools … . Therefore, it is very likely that there would be increased utilization of health care services under this bill.”

And the committee only is talking about predicted costs. It’s not its job to engage other policy debates, such as those touching on subjects including rationing, waiting lists for services if the demand overwhelms supply and the quality of care. The bill would apply to illegal immigrants, which raise critics’ concerns about the state becoming a worldwide magnet for “free” health care.

The bill is fairly short given the complexity of the subject. But the Mercury News captured the gist of the single-payer approach in a March news article: “Instead of buying health insurance and paying for premiums, residents pay higher taxes. And those taxes are then used to fund the insurance plan — in the same way Medicare taxes are used to provide insurance for Americans 65 and over.”

This bill would put control of health care in the state under the authority of a nine-member panel and essentially eliminate the role of insurance companies – thus replacing them with a government bureaucracy. But the size of the tax bill and state costs even have Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown expressing what the newspaper calls “deep skepticism.”

The analysis makes some other important points. For instance, it’s not clear that the federal government would go along with this, and it is totally discretionary whether the feds would grant the necessary waivers involving Medicare and Medicaid services. The bill’s funding is based heavily on the ability to divert federal funds from those programs.

The analysis also notes, “There are several provisions of the state constitution that would prevent the Legislature from creating the single-payer system envisioned in the bill without voter approval.” In Colorado this past November, voters defeated a single-payer initiative, Amendment 69, with an overwhelming 79 percent to 21 percent “no” vote.

Supporters of the measure claim that it will reduce “waste” by putting all health plans under a single umbrella, thus ending the duplication of multi-plan systems. But critics note that competition is the best way to keep costs low – not putting a system under one giant governmental entity. Advocates see it as a way to ensure proper health care for everyone, but the appropriations report confirms critics’ concerns that such a system could obliterate the state budget and kill job-creating private enterprise because of the high tax bite.

As the Democratic Party protests illustrated, we can expect the debate to become even more acrimonious and obscenity laden as the days go on.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Gavin Newsom to pitch universal health care as California governor’s race grows crowded

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is drafting a health care plan for California that he plans to unveil as a core component of his gubernatorial run, based in part on the universal health care program he signed into law when he was mayor of San Francisco.

Newsom, seen as a strong contender in the increasingly crowded field of candidates vying to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, is staking out an ambitious plan to rein in rising health care costs, expand universal access to people across the state regardless of income or immigration status, and preserve coverage for the estimated 5 million Californians who risk losing their insurance under President Donald Trump’s changes.

“I think we can learn a lot for the state of California from what we did with Healthy San Francisco,” Newsom said in an interview. “We had the resourcefulness, the resources, and the boldness and audacity to try something new. It’s not necessarily something that can be adopted in all 58 counties, but it can be adopted …. where the majority of California’s population is.”

The idea would likely require substantial state and federal funding. …

Click here to read the full article

Neither liberty nor justice for all

Recently, Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen wrote in the Washington Post of “The most important phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance” — “with liberty and justice for all.”

Liberty

Allen recognized that justice required “equality before the law” and that freedom exists “only when it is for everyone.” But she confused democracy, as in progressives “build[ing] a distributed majority across the country, as is needed for electoral college victory,” with liberty, which is very different. Similarly, she replaced the traditional meaning of justice (“Giving each his own,” according to Cicero) with a version of “social justice” inconsistent with it. And her two primary examples — rights to education and health care — were inconsistent with both liberty for all and justice for all.

Americans cannot have both liberty and such social justice, under whose aegis one can assert rights to be provided education and health care, not to mention food, housing, etc. Positive rights to receive such things, absent an obligation to earn them, must violate others’ liberty, because a government must take citizens’ resources without their consent to fund them. Providing such government benefits for some forcibly violates others’ rights to themselves and their property.

The only justice that can be “for all” involves defending negative rights — prohibitions laid out against others, especially the government, to prevent unwanted intrusions — not rights to be given things. Further, only such justice can be reconciled with liberty “for all.” That is why negative rights are what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, were intended to protect. But those foundational freedoms continue to be eroded by the ongoing search to invent ever-more positive rights.

Echoing John Locke, The Declaration of Independence asserts that all have unalienable rights, including liberty, and that our government’s central purpose is to defend those negative rights. Each citizen can enjoy them without infringing on anyone else’s rights, because they impose on others only the obligation not to invade or interfere. But when the government creates new positive rights, extracting the resources to pay for them necessarily takes away others’ unalienable rights, which people recognize as theft except when the government does it.

Almost all of Americans’ rights laid out in the Constitution are protections against government abuse. The preamble makes that clear, as does the enumeration of the limited powers granted to the federal government. That is reinforced by explicit descriptions of some powers not given, particularly in the Bill of Rights, whose negative rights Justice Hugo Black called the “Thou Shalt Nots.” Even the Bill of Rights’ central positive right–to a jury trial–is largely to defend innocent citizens’ negative rights against being railroaded by government. And the 9th and 10th Amendments leave no doubt that all rights not expressly delegated to the federal government (including health care and education) are retained by the states or the people.

Liberty means I rule myself, protected by my negative rights, and voluntary agreements are the means of resolving conflict. In contrast, assigning positive rights to others means someone else rules over the choices and resources taken from me. But since no one has the right to rob me, they cannot delegate such a right to the government to force me to provide resources it wishes to give to others, even if by majority vote. For our government to remain within its delegated authority, reflecting the consent of the governed expressed in “the highest law of the land,” it can only enforce negative rights.

Our country was founded on unalienable rights, not rights granted by Washington. That means government has no legitimate power to take them away. However, as people have discovered ever-more things they want others to pay for, and manipulated the language of rights to create popular support, our government has increasingly turned to violating the rights it was instituted to defend. And there is no way to square such coercive “social justice” with “liberty and justice for all.”

Gary M. Galles is a Professor of Economics at Pepperdine University, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, an Adjunct Scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and a member of the Foundation for Economic Education Faculty Network. His books include “Lines of Liberty” (2016), “Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies” (2014) and “Apostle of Peace” (2013).