Bill Would Allow Illegal Immigrants Access to Obamacare in CA

covered caState Democrats forged ahead with legislation designed to fill out Covered California’s enrollment ranks with unlawful and undocumented immigrants.

Following the state Senate, the Assembly has “passed a measure that would remove a critical barrier to Covered California and allow all Californians to access the state health insurance marketplace, regardless of immigration status,” as State of Reform noted. The legislation, introduced as Senate Bill 10 by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, “would authorize the state to apply for a federal waiver that would allow undocumented immigrants to buy unsubsidized health coverage through Covered California.”

“Currently, undocumented immigrants are barred from using the state marketplace under the Affordable Care Act even when using their own money and instead must go directly to a broker or health plan to purchase health insurance. During its April board meeting, a Covered California staff report gave the green light to pursue this waiver from the federal government, and is now awaiting direction from the Legislature and governor.”

Republican rollover

Despite massive Republican resistance to the implementation of Obamacare, with a “repeal and replace” approach adopted by elected officials at the state and federal level, California’s GOP quietly folded in the face of the expansion plan. SB10 sailed through both houses of the Legislature with bipartisan support, as the San Jose Mercury News recalled.

Prior to the vote, key Republicans tried to keep a low profile. Leaders “in both legislative chambers declined to comment on whether the bill has enough support to pass,” according to CALmatters. “But a Republican strategist said the California GOP might be more likely to support the measure than its national counterpart, to avoid ceding the state’s Latino vote to the Democrats.”

The ins and outs of the complex Affordable Care Act have lent some circumstantial evidence to the notion that, despite President Obama’s claims to the contrary, at least some enrollment by the undocumented was envisioned or prepared for. An ACA provision “called the ‘innovation waiver’ allows states like California to change portions of the law as long as the state makes coverage available to more people and as long as the federal government doesn’t get stuck footing the bill,” reported Fox News. And though the impact of that population on Covered California has not been fully estimated, it would be significant: Lara suggested nearly 400,000 unlawful immigrants “would be eligible to receive health insurance,” according to the channel.

Federal hurdles

But the political landscape has become uncertain enough at the federal level to create an extra layer of difficulty — and urgency — for Lara and his allies. “The proposal needs federal approval, an involved bureaucratic process that could be thwarted under a new presidency. So California advocates are acting swiftly to get their application to President Obama before he leaves office, and to do so must win support from at least a few California Republican lawmakers,” Capital Public Radio noted. “Lara put an urgency clause on the bill, which requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass the Legislature. At least one Republican state senator has indicated his support” — Andy Vidak, R-Hanford — “a cherry grower in the Central Valley’s Kings County, which has a 53 percent Latino population.”

Even with adequate Republican support for urgency, however, SB10 could be stymied inside the Beltway. Public comment review requirements left some analysts skeptical that the new rules could be approved before a change in administrations, CALmatters reported. “And even if the proposal works its way through that maze and is reviewed by the Obama administration, he said, it may not be approved because of current federal guidelines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has strict rules for modifying the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. They might have been put in place to avoid creating a precedent that opens the door to future changes the current administration would deem” problematic.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

CA nears letting undocumented immigrants buy health care

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Immigrants living in the country illegally would be allowed to buy health coverage on California’s insurance exchange under a bill that passed the state Assembly on Tuesday.

Already at the forefront of enacting immigrant-friendly policies, California could become the first state permitting immigrants to use the insurance exchanges created by the new federal healthcare law. Senate Bill 10 would have California petition the federal government for the right to do so. Undocumented immigrants using the exchange would not be eligible for the public subsidies that extend to other lower-income shoppers.

The measure passed 54-19, with two Republicans locked in tough re-election campaigns joining every Democrat in voting in favor. The measure now heads to the Senate for a final vote, before advancing to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Earlier in May, California began extending full benefits to undocumented children enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income insurance program. …

Click here to read the full article

Game Changer: World’s Leading Medical Group Backs E-Cigarettes

e-cigaretteOne of the world’s most prestigious medical organizations has delivered a groundbreaking 200-page report that supports e-cigarettes as a tool to quit smoking and demolishes several vaping myths in the process.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), the most respected medical institution in the United Kingdom, concluded e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than regular cigarettes and are likely to be hugely beneficial to public health.

Titled “Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction,” the report is one of the most comprehensive ever published examining e-cigarettes and could be a game changer for health officials and politicians all over the world. The RCP’s seminal 1962 report, which demonstrated the link between smoking, lung disease and bronchitis spurred the U.S. Surgeon General to publish the historic 1964 “Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States.”

The RCP’s new report tears apart scare stories, including the ever-more popular idea that vaping is somehow a gateway to smoking. “To date, there is no evidence that any of these processes is occurring to any significant degree in the UK,” said the report’s authors. (RELATED: CDC Admits, No ‘Concrete’ Evidence E-Cigarettes Are Gateway To Smoking)

The authors are emphatic there is no evidence e-cigarette use has in any way “renormalized” smoking. “None of these products has to date attracted significant use among adult never-smokers, or demonstrated evidence of significant gateway progression into smoking among young people.”

One of the most damaging myths about e-cigarettes that caught fire in 2015 was e-cigarettes don’t actually help smokers quit. (RELATED: Study Claiming E-Cigarettes Make Quitting Harder Exposed As ‘Unscientific Hatchet Job’)

Contrary to the claims of some public health activists in the U.S., the RCP is clear: e-cigarettes can help smokers kick their habit for good. “Among smokers, e-cigarette use is likely to lead to quit attempts that would not otherwise have happened, and in a proportion of these to successful cessation. In this way, e-cigarettes can act as a gateway from smoking.” (RELATED: Study Finds E-Cigarettes Raise Chances Of Quitting, ‘Can Save Lives’)

The RCP does not claim vaping is totally safe, as vapers inhale nicotine and flavorings. But they conclude any risk to vapers is likely to be “very small, and substantially smaller than that arising from tobacco smoking.”

Concurring with a previous report by Public Health England, RCP believes the health risks to vapers is unlikely to reach more than five percent of the risks associated with smoking. The report also warns overzealous policymakers to resist the temptation to regulate e-cigarettes in a way that would stifle innovation or discourage use.

“This report lays to rest almost all of the concerns over these products, and concludes that, with sensible regulation, electronic cigarettes have the potential to make a major contribution towards preventing the premature death, disease and social inequalities in health that smoking currently causes in the UK,” said Professor John Britton, chair of the RCP’s Tobacco Advisory Group. “Smokers should be reassured that these products can help them quit all tobacco use forever,” he added.

Those most applauding the study’s conclusions are e-cig groups who have been fighting an onslaught of attacks from politicians and dubious public health researchers. (RELATED: Read The Stunning Correction This Scientist Dropped On Her Own Anti-E-Cig Study)

“When the RCP told the truth about cigarettes in 1962, it took two years for the U.S. government to play catch up and release its own report. It should not take two months, let alone two years, for American public health authorities to correct their past misstatements about vaping. The FDA and CDC must seriously consider the RCP’s guidance before moving forward on any new regulations or public campaigns about smoke-free nicotine products,” said Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association.

“For those in mainstream tobacco control, the question for them is, how can you dismiss this report out of hand? The authors are credible experts without financial conflicts of interest in tobacco or vapor products. At some point, these groups will have to realize that the science has long outpaced their rhetoric,” Conley added.

Cancer charities added their voices to the chorus of praise for the RCP’s report. “This important report is an accurate summary of the latest scientific evidence on e-cigarettes and will help dispel the increasingly common misconception that they’re as harmful as smoking. They’re not,” said Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention Alison Cox.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

41 States — Including CA — Saw Their Deductibles Go Up Under Obamacare In 2016

The Affordable Care Act hasn’t just caused premiums to skyrocket across the country, out-of-pocket costs are also on the rise.

According to Freedom Partners, an Arlington, Va.-based conservative non-profit, 41 states are facing higher deductibles in 2016 – 17 of which saw a double-digit hike.

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Source: Freedom Partners’ 2016 Obamacare Deductible Increase Tracker

The states that saw the biggest spikes were Mississippi (39 percent), Washington (31 percent), South Carolina (26 percent), Louisiana (24 percent), Florida (23 percent), Minnesota and Vermont (22 percent), Arizona (21 percent), and North Carolina (20 percent).

The organization used weighted-averages of ACA plan deductibles across the country in to conduct their analysis and created a tool – the 2016 Obamacare Deductible Increase Tracker, which is set to unveiled Thursday morning – allowing users to see how their state measures up.

The findings show, on average, deductibles for Bronze, Silver and Gold plans bought through Obamacare exchanges increased by $265 –  an 8.4 percent rise.

“Higher Obamacare deductibles increase, by hundreds of dollars, what families must pay out of pocket to access their health insurance,” Freedom Partners Senior Policy Adviser Nathan Nascimento said in a statement. “Instead of reducing costs, Obamacare regulations and mandates continue to drive up these costs and make quality care less accessible for hardworking families.”

Just five states –Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Illinois and Oregon – and the District of Columbia saw their average deductible go down, but even those regions all saw a rise in costs for Bronze plans.

Freedom Partners released a similar tracker for Obamacare premiums in January, which found all but one state saw an uptick in costs.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

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Tax Hike on Health Plans Causing Major Angst in Sacramento

MedizinCurrently on the front burner in the state Capitol is the extremely contentious (and complicated) issue of taxing “managed care organizations.” Because of federal requirements under Obamacare, California must alter the manner in which it taxes healthcare plans or risk losing billions in federal money. But the question everyone is asking is whether the proposed legislation constitutes a tax increase. That question is not merely academic because its answer has significant policy and political ramifications.

While the determination of whether a legislative act imposes a tax may not be that important in other states, it certainly is in California. A requirement imposed by Proposition 13 is that “tax increases” be approved by a two-thirds vote of each house. Thus, although the majority Democrats have almost a two-thirds majority, they lack the power to raise taxes without at least some Republican support. And because most Republicans run for office as fiscal conservatives, they are loath to vote for anything that raises the tax burden on citizens or businesses.

But the question of whether a legislative act is a tax hike isn’t always that simple. Take for example the unpopular “fire tax” imposed on hundreds of thousands of California property owners in rural areas. This unpopular tax – imposed when California’s budget was deeply in the red – was designed to force property owners residing in “State Responsibility Areas” under the jurisdiction of CalFire to pay for various fire protection programs whether they benefited or not. The legality of that tax is currently subject to a class action lawsuit because it never received a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

And then there is the issue of “revenue neutrality.” Is something that raises taxes on one group only to be offset by tax reductions to another a “tax hike?” It certainly is for the person or business whose taxes are raised. Fortunately, this issues was resolved in large part by the passage of Prop. 26 which requires a two-thirds vote if anyone’s taxes are raised.

Being familiar with state taxes for the last 35 years, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association takes a keen interest in many of the more arcane issues of tax policy: What bills require a two-thirds vote? What is revenue neutrality? Should the elimination of a tax credit that no longer serves a legitimate public purpose be opposed even though it technically qualifies as a tax increase? To what extent will a tax hike on businesses ultimately be borne by others?

Although HJTA’s tax expertise is usually respected by friend and foe alike on a broad array of tax and economic issues, some forget that our analysis of any policy is driven by one fundamental question: What is the impact on citizen taxpayers? And by citizen taxpayers we simply mean the millions of ordinary men, women and their families – either working or retired – who are not part of any special interest group.

Because we have been asked by dozens of legislators and those in the media to comment on the MCO tax, we have spent a fair amount of time analyzing the proposal. And, as noted above, our sole focus is on the law’s impact on citizen taxpayers and consumers. What we understand at this point is that the proposal has been crafted so as not to impact ordinary folks. We hope that is true and borne out by our final analysis.

Should HJTA adopt a position of neutrality on the MCO tax proposal, in no way should this be interpreted as some official “taxpayers’ imprimatur” on all healthcare laws either at the state and federal level. Indeed, we believe that the state of healthcare services in America and California is a disaster in need of radical reformation based on free market principles and consumer choice. As for Obamacare itself, the late – and very great – Justice Scalia, accurately labeled it an illegal tax hike.

Moreover, a pass on the MCO tax may very well reflect the fact that California taxpayers have much bigger fish to fry.  Specifically, proposals to substantially increase a variety of transportation taxes are bound to be a non-starter for a majority of Californians who have seen their high gas taxes squandered on low priority projects and wasted to a degree that would make even the most profligate politician blush. On some issues, taxpayers know how to draw a hard line.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Originally published by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Guess who pays if Obama’s plan to defer deportations is upheld

Immigration ObamaBy the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether President Obama really has the power to defer the deportation of 4 million people who are in the United States illegally.

The justices have agreed to hear the case of United States v. Texas, in which 26 states are suing the federal government to stop the president’s deferral policy from going forward.

The first issue to be decided is whether the states have “standing” to sue. They’ll have to show that they are harmed by the president’s actions.

Former California Gov. Pete Wilson says there’s no doubt about it.

“The states continue to feel the heavy impacts and the very high costs of federal failure to deal rationally and adequately with immigration policy,” Wilson told a meeting of the Federalist Society recently at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.

In 1994, Wilson said, California spent “more than $3 billion, or 7 percent of the entire state operating budget” to provide health care and education to illegal immigrants and to incarcerate alien felons.

Wilson unsuccessfully sued the federal government to recover the costs that state taxpayers were bearing. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected all his arguments, even the claim that the federal government ought to pay the costs of incarcerating criminals who should have been stopped at the border.

The court said, “California can simply exercise discretion not to prosecute and imprison alien felons and thus not incur the expense,” Wilson recalled sardonically.

No discretion is allowed in education. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that states must provide free public education to all children, regardless of immigration status.

Wilson said one reason he backed Proposition 187 — the 1994 ballot measure that prohibited state funding of public benefits for undocumented California residents — was that he wanted to challenge the Plyler ruling.

“I was convinced that if we could get 187 before a notably less liberal Supreme Court a decade later, there was a good chance that the court would overturn Plyler,” Wilson said, describing it as a “weak” 5-4 decision. But because of a long delay in the lower court, time ran out for Wilson, and his successor, Gov. Gray Davis, dropped the appeal.

“The people of California were cheated of their day in the Supreme Court,” Wilson said.

Today, the cost of illegal immigration is embedded in state and local budgets.

In 2014, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $61 million program called My Health L.A. to provide free medical care to undocumented immigrants ineligible for Obamacare.

California’s new system of distributing education money, the Local Control Funding Formula, gives more money to districts with high concentrations of students classified as “English learners.” The LCFF replaced a system that provided “categorical funding” for specific programs, including the arts and music block grant, gifted and talented education, and the school safety block grant.

Californians will pay $132 million a year for a new state law that provides free health coverage to undocumented residents under the age of 19.

And if Obama prevails in the Supreme Court, California may feel it in the Medi-Cal program, which already serves 13.5 million people. The state has considered deferred immigration status to be a category eligible for full Medi-Cal coverage.

However, the outcome of this case is completely unpredictable. What happens if the court upholds the president’s use of executive orders to change immigration policy, and Donald Trump is elected president?

Maybe the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the law of unintended consequences.

CA Newspaper Once Backed Obamacare; Now Warns of Failure

MedizinA prominent California newspaper that backed Obamacare is now sounding the alarm about doctor shortages.

The Contra Costa Times, which backed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, saying it “prefer[red] the current legislation over nothing,” warned in a Christmas Day editorial: “The Affordable Care Act is seen as a huge success in California because it has cut the state’s uninsured rate in half. But it will become a farce if physicians continue refusing to accept the abysmally low rates the state pays to treat the quarter of Medi-Cal patients who are not in managed care plans.”

The editorial is a response to a recently-filed civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that alleges the Medi-Cal, the California version of Medicaid, is discriminating against Latinos. “Medi-Cal’s inadequate, extremely low reimbursement rates—in both the fee for service and managed care settings—and its failure to adequately monitor access to medical care, effectively deny the full benefits of the Medi-Cal program to the more than seven million Latino enrollees who rely on Medi-Cal for their healthcare,” the complaint alleges.

The doctor shortage was one of the consequences critics of Obamacare had predicted.

In May 2009, an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) official Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned: “Expect longer waits for appointments as physicians get pinched on reimbursements.”

A CMS study released in November 2009 warned: “The additional demand for health services could be difficult to meet initially with existing health provider resources and could lead to price increases, cost-shifting, and/or changes in providers’ willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage. ”

After the law’s passage, experts continued to warn of a worsening doctor shortage as reimbursement rates fell to keep costs down–and as fewer doctors entered primary care specialties, or stopped taking Medi-Cal patients.

In 2013, seven out of ten doctors refused…

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Daughters of Charity Deal Carries Warnings for the Future of Health Care

MedizinWhat would happen to our health care system if we took the advice of some politicians and turned it into “Medicare for all,” a single-payer plan?

Right now in California, there is a story of hospitals, nuns, hedge funds, corruption, the state Attorney General and union bosses that may hold the answer to that question.

The story begins in Paris, where the Daughters of Charity religious order was founded in 1633, dedicated to serving the poor. The Daughters came to America in the 1800s, and by 1991, their highly respected nationwide chain of nonprofit Catholic hospitals had $3.1 billion in annual net revenues and a top credit rating.

Six hospitals in California, including St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, became the Daughters of Charity Health System in 2002. By 2013 they were losing $10 million every month. Why? DCHS said three-quarters of its patients were covered by government health programs, which pay less than private insurers. The recession made it worse as more people lost their jobs and health benefits, and then the government cut back further, slashing Medi-Cal rates that reimbursed providers for low-income patient care.

DCHS also cited the “volume and mix of services” and the “employee salary/benefits structure” as causes of the financial bleeding.

The nonprofit chain put itself up for sale in 2014, hoping to find a buyer that would preserve the pensions of current and retired employees, repay debts, honor existing union contracts, and maintain services.

And they did. Prime Healthcare Services, based in Ontario, California, made an offer of $843 million to buy DCHS. But under state law, nonprofit hospitals can’t change hands without the approval of the California Attorney General.

And that gave Prime Healthcare’s longtime enemy, the Service Employees International Union and its affiliate, United Healthcare Workers West, the power to blow up the deal. In July, 2014, UHW president Dave Regan met with Prime CEO Dr. Prem Reddy and told him, according to court documents, “that he would prevent the sale unless Prime allowed UHW to unionize hospital workers at all of Prime’s hospitals.” Prime refused Regan’s demand.

The union allegedly told Attorney General Kamala Harris that if she blocked Prime’s acquisition of DCHS, they’d spend $25 million to get her elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, and threatened that if she didn’t, they would spend the money to elect somebody else.

Harris gave conditional approval to the deal but added poison-pill requirements, including an order to run the hospitals without any changes for 10 years, which would have continued the financial meltdown. Prime walked away.

The Daughters of Charity filed a lawsuit against the SEIU-UHW in Santa Clara County Superior Court, accusing the unions of extortion and of chilling bids from other suitors by threatening to block the attorney general’s approval.

Then Prime Healthcare Services filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Kamala Harris of corruptly abusing her power in an illegal scheme to gain financial support of her political career.

The story is told in disturbing detail in the combined 85 pages of the complaints.

Now a New York-based hedge fund, which has never run a hospital, has offered to take over the management of DCHS. BlueMountain Capital Management would pump $250 million into the nonprofit chain, take 4 percent of annual revenue as a management fee, and have an option to buy the hospitals after three years.

Harris has granted conditional approval, and BlueMountain is presently reviewing the conditions, which include providing services and charity care for ten years.

If the deal falls through again, DCHS could enter bankruptcy. Pensions could be lost and the hospitals could close, costing 7,600 jobs and depriving the communities of local health care services.

Twelve million people are now enrolled in Medi-Cal — one in three state residents — and the number could go higher. How many hospitals will go bankrupt providing legally required services for below-cost reimbursements?

Imagine what would happen if all of American health care was run that way.

It’s easy for politicians to decree that services shall be provided and fees shall be reduced. It’s even easier for them to help their friends get lucrative contracts, and to collect campaign cash as a tip for good service.

What’s not easy is persuading anyone to go to medical school or build hospitals when politicians control health care. Too bad no one has ever been cured by a hedge fund seeking a tax loss.

CA Doesn’t Need Additional Tax Revenue

TaxesThere is an old expression, “carrying coals to Newcastle,” to describe a useless activity or fool’s errand. Sort of like shipping pineapples to Hawaii or, bringing it closer to home, sending more tax dollars to Sacramento.

The truth is, Sacramento is awash in cash. The Legislature’s budget analyst estimates that this fiscal year will end with $3 billion more than anticipated and, by 2017, state reserves may even top $11 billion.

For the political ruling class, this is an embarrassment. Last summer, the governor called a special session of the Legislature in an attempt to secure legislative approval of a new health care tax on managed care organizations (MCOs) because the current tax is about to expire. He also called another special session to deal with transportation funding. In both cases, Republicans in the Legislature are making trouble for those backing new taxes by pointing to the obvious: The state already has plenty of money.

This embarrassment of riches is also bad for the morale of special interests looking to increase taxes via ballot measures. Public sector unions are pushing for an extension in the “temporary” tax increase approved by voters in 2012.

But they have yet to show a united front and are fighting over who will get the money. Whether the proceeds go to education, as favored by the state’s most powerful special interest, the California Teachers Association, or to the health care industry, as is supported by other union and hospital interests, has yet to be decided.

Health care interests may also pursue a new tobacco tax of $2 a pack. Since smokers and tobacco companies are only slightly more popular than ISIS, pundits believe – perhaps naively – that this initiative will pass. (They’ve been wrong before as tobacco taxes are highly regressive.) Or perhaps the “evil” oil companies will be the target in a state where motorists already pay 75 cents a gallon more than the national average. Good luck with that.

Campaigns for initiatives to impose new or higher taxes tend to use happy talk to focus on the benefits to the needy or the general population and ignore the actual goal. For example, Proposition 30, the sales and income tax increase, was sold as a boon to education when, in reality, much of the revenue is needed to keep the teachers’ pension system solvent.

For any tax increases being pushed by special interests, voters should keep in mind that actual beneficiaries tend to be the providers of services – think pay and benefits — not the recipients.

This brings us to another potential initiative with the sympathetic sounding title of “Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act.” The measure would place a property tax surcharge on higher value homes and property.

If this proposal actually reaches the ballot, it will, no doubt be marketed as a tax on the well-off so they can pay their “fair share” to help needy children. Backers of this tax will not mention that, as usual, those receiving the majority of benefits are likely to be the providers of services, not those in poverty. And don’t expect voters to be told about California’s already generous entitlement programs or, even with record spending, the hefty state surplus. The fact that this measure would be the first step in destroying Proposition 13 protections for all property owners, including those of modest means, will be glossed over as initiative promoters use the less fortunate as human shields to justify themselves.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Public Ignorance About E-Cigarettes, In One Awful Poll

e-cigaretteThe University of Michigan is dealing bad news to vapers and e-cigarette supporters with a new poll showing stunning support for a raft of new regulations and taxes that could hamper the industry.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health showed that 92 percent of parents and 91 percent of teens think e-cigarettes should have health warnings, like traditional cigarettes.

The poll didn’t ask about the addictive nature of e-cigarettes thanks to their nicotine content, but simply whether they should be labeled the same as regular smokes.

The results will puzzle many medical professionals as there is no clear evidence about what the negative health effects of e-cigarettes are. There is, however, a strong consensus that the devices are significantly safer than regular cigarettes. A study by Public Health England concluded e-cigarettes are 95 percent less dangerous than regular cigarettes.

The poll suggested that the vast majority of parents and teens believe using e-cigarettes will encourage smoking among minors, 81 percent and 84 percent respectively. But again, there is little evidence to support this view aside from speculative op-eds.

In fact, a tougher policy on e-cigarettes could have the reverse effect, with one study suggesting states that banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors actually experienced a rising smoking rate. Every state with the exception of Pennsylvania and Michigan has introduced some form of regulation on the sale of vaping products to teenagers. According to the data, there is also little chance of adults taking up vaping and switching to tobacco.

A study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research by Rutgers School of Public Health concluded that “e-cigarettes have not been attracting adult non-smokers or promoting relapse in long-term former smokers. Moreover, the data are suggestive that some recent quitters may have done so with the assistance of e-cigarettes.”

The Rutgers authors added that the amount of experimentation with e-cigarettes among adults who have never smoked is “extremely low.” The original National Institute of Health shows that just 0.4 percent of adults who had never smoked tobacco were current vapers, using the device either every day or some days.

One the biggest challenges facing the e-cigarette industry is a skeptical Food And Drug Administration and an outright hostile group of Senate Democrats. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others recently demanded stricter regulation of the industry, including an outright ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Critics claim that flavored e-cigarettes will entice children and young people to take up vaping.

A full 64 percent of parents and 71 percent of teens agreed with banning candy or fruit-flavored e-cigarettes, according to the Michigan poll. But Cynthia Cabrera, executive director and president of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, told The Daily Caller News Foundation the move will be counter-productive in getting people to quit smoking.

“Flavors also play an important aspect with helping cigarette smokers make the switch, with a recent study published in the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Biotechnology Information confirming that sweet and dessert-type vapor flavors appealed much more to adults than non-smoking teens, and other studies confirming that the variance in flavors were ‘very important’ in people’s efforts to switch to e-cigs.”

But there appears to be no limit to which parents and high schoolers want to treat vapers in the same way as smokers, with 80 and 81 percent respectively supporting taxing e-cigarettes in the same way as regular tobacco.

Cabrera commented that “from a public health and policy perspective, we should be focusing on harm-reduction strategies rather than continuing to demonize a product that has the potential to improve the public health and save health care costs caused by tobacco smoking.”

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation