Last week some of the economic benefits of the federal health care reform law became evident. The Cuomo Administration released its estimates on the costs of health insurance for those who must pay for coverage – people who don’t get health insurance from the government or their employer. Virtually all New Yorkers will have to have health coverage by January 1, 2014.
In a few short months, Americans who need health insurance will be able to obtain it. They will either get it from the government – through programs like Medicare or Medicaid, from their employers, or purchase it themselves from health marketplaces, known as health benefit exchanges.
Early last month a report graded each of the 50 states’ policies on how well they controlled patients’ pain. The report showed that much progress had been made over the last decade in implementing balanced policies that increase access to effective pain medications and establish a system to mitigate drug abuse. However, much more needs to be done.
Higher prices have been shown to encourage smokers to quit or reduce their consumption of cigarettes. Cigarette tax evasion makes cigarettes cheaper and reduces the public health benefits of New York’s excise tax, as well as depriving the state of much-needed revenue. Were the tax collected on all cigarettes smoked in New York, tens of thousands of adults would quit rather than pay higher prices, and state revenues would dramatically increase.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll be hearing about the accomplishments of the 2013 legislative session, which ended last week. And lawmakers did approve some legislation, but one key consumer issue was left unaddressed.
This week is the scheduled end of the legislative session. Often the end of session is a time when special interest legislation surfaces – it looks like this year is no exception.
Lawmakers are considering legislation that would give a gift to the tobacco industry. Under the proposal, tobacco companies – and only tobacco companies, no other types of businesses – would not have to post a bond that is the equivalent of the judgment against them in court.
As the nation moves closer to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the debate continues. The House of Representatives’ leadership will, once again, advance legislation to repeal the law. Predictably, the effort will fail.
Tobacco companies are an extreme example of how greed trumps morality in America’s marketplace. Every year roughly 500,000 smokers die from tobacco use and the industry knows it must at least replace those lost customers – plus the ones who successfully quit the addiction.
Americans are starting to feel the bite of the federal sequestration. Sequestration is the term referring to the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts in the federal government’s domestic and military budgets. Sequestration went into effect last month when Congress was unable to agree on an alternative.
Last week, President Obama offered his plan for the federal budget. According to the President, his proposed $3.7 trillion budget for 2014 would cut deficits by $1.8 trillion over the next decade. The President’s plan includes a number of proposals, most notably: ending the “sequester” (that’s the current law that has automatically cut federal spending), reducing spending in the Medicare and Social Security programs, as well as tax increases that would primarily hit high-income households and corporations.