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In The Morning News

Posted on 05/7/2008 by | Archived Contributor | Comments

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MarketWatch: Increasing Health Care Costs Force Employers To Focus On Health Care Reforms
In her MarketWatch (5/6) blog, Kristen Gerencher writes that Len Nichols, a health economist at the New America Foundation, described in a conference call “a new study from the foundation” that examined “how high health-care costs are putting U.S. employers at a significant competitive disadvantage compared with the health-care burden shouldered by other industrialized nations. The problem will get worse unless financing for health coverage starts to shift away from the employer-based model, Nichols said.” Gerencher adds that “groups of big employers ranging from AARP to Safeway to Wal-Mart with names like Divided We Fail, the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform and Better Health Care Together are calling for comprehensive change, a marked departure from employers’ role in the last attempt at national health reform in 1993.” To increase competiveness in the global market, “Nichols suggests eliminating or capping the tax exclusion that workers get for their employers’ premium contributions and cashing them out by requiring employers to convert premium contributions into higher wages that workers could use to buy insurance on their own. For workers who can’t afford it, he also recommends a sliding-scale tax credit.”
BusinessWeek: Japanese Auto Makers Target Seniors
BusinessWeek reports that Japanese auto makers “are keen to keep seniors behind the wheel. Although few admit to targeting older customers with specific models, many new technologies or design trends are being developed with older drivers in mind.” Toyota has “approached Ryuta Kawashima, a professor at Tohoku University, who chairs a ‘mobility and smart aging’ study group at the university, to help develop a car of the future. One idea is for the car to recognize how the driver normally drives, such as the way he or she accelerates or holds the steering wheel. If the approach to driving changes significantly, for instance, accelerating for no obvious reason, the car could automatically slow.”
CNN/Money: Candidates Using ‘Fuzzy Math’ During Campaigns
CNN reports, “It’s a good thing they’re not running for accountant in chief. When it comes to selling their economic proposals as fiscally responsible, all three presidential candidates have managed to do some funny math.” Democratic candidates “frequently cite their plans to let the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 expire for high-income taxpayers as a way to pay for their initiatives.” That revenue “certainly could go a long way toward paying” for their health care reforms, but not the rest of their proposals. And “some of their other cost-saving measures, such as modernizing the health system and reducing wasteful health spending, are not easily quantifiable.” McCain’s campaign says his proposed tax cuts “will stimulate economic growth and maintain a healthy level of tax revenue. But studies – including one by Holtz-Eakin in his capacity as Congressional Budget Office director in 2005 – suggest that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves over time.”

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