Daily Policy Digest
|Health Construction Shrinks Twice As Fast As Other Construction in June
The see-saw in health facilities construction continues. Health construction starts dropped 1.4 percent in June, versus a drop of 0.6 percent for other construction. However, there was a significant difference between the private and public segments. The remarkable volatility in health construction starts from month to month suggest more uncertainty in the health facilities market than previously data had indicated, writes NCPA Senior Fellow John R. Graham.
|Soda Taxes Make the Poor Poorer, Maybe Fatter
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney recently approved an ordinance imposing a 1.5¢ per ounce tax increase on sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks, including diet sodas, in an attempt to curb obesity. But there is evidence that a soda tax increase would have little effect on obesity, writes NCPA Research Associate John McDonald...
|First, Do No Digital Harm: Regulating Telemedicine
Telemedicine, whereby physicians use email, phone, text, or video for prescribing and consultations, is growing rapidly. Seeking to encourage faster uptake of telemedicine, many well-intentioned parties are prodding Congress to take actions which will likely have harmful unintended consequences, writes NCPA Senior Fellow John R. Graham...
|Obamacare's Perverse Job Creation Program
The latest jobs report gave the stock market a boost and injected some optimism into public sentiment about our economic prospects. Unfortunately there's a problem with the current employment situation that few understand: Obamacare has likely led to too many jobs in health care, drawing labor from more productive functions, writes NCPA Senior Fellow John R. Graham...
|Why the Divest Movement Would Hurt More Than Israel
The self-styled Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been seeking to discredit and reverse Israeli policies with respect to the Palestinian Territories since 2005. BDS promotes an international boycott of Israeli products, divestment from Israeli companies, and exclusion of artists and academics from the Jewish state, among other things, writes NCPA Research Associate Danielle Zaychik and Senior Fellow David Grantham...
|Cancer Payment Reform: Medicare is Missing the Elephant in the Room
Last May I wrote about the uproar over Medicare's proposed changes to how it will pay doctors who inject drugs in their offices. I did not think the reform would have a positive impact, but I also thought criticism was overblown. Well, Medicare has managed to irritate all the affected interest groups to such a degree that it is likely to toss the proposal and go back to the drawing board, writes NCPA Senior Fellow John R. Graham...
|Higher Education and Accrediting Online Courses
Traditional higher education is not meeting the needs of employers. For example, a survey by the data provider PayScale and the executive development firm Future Workplace found that 87 percent of graduates feel they are ready for the workforce, but only 50 percent of mangers feel recent graduates are prepared for a full-time job, writes NCPA Research Associate Christian Yiu.
|The Commercial Drone Era Emerges (Slowly)
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just released its final administrative rules on "routine" commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Effective August 29, 2016, this federal regulatory edict opens the door to the process of integrating UAS systems -- or "drones" -- into the nation’s commercial airspace. Aviation industry sources tout the move as capable of generating over $82 billion and creating more than 100,000 new jobs for the U.S. economy over the next decade. Though a step in the right direction, this regulatory change falls somewhat short, writes NCPA Senior Fellow Thomas Hemphill...
|The "Doc Fix" Is In
In March 2015, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress voted for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The so-called "doc fix," a component of MACRA, was an attempt to fix the very flawed method Medicare uses to pay doctors and other health professionals. Unfortunately, MACRA is fiscally irresponsible and increases the federal government's control over how clinicians practice medicine, writes NCPA Senior Fellow John R. Graham.
|Case Study: "Three Friends" and the Texas Wind Industry
In recent years, Texas has become the nation's leader in wind energy. In 2014, wind farms in the Lone Star State had the capacity to produce more than 12,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 3.3 million homes. But given the unpredictable nature of wind, they produce, on average, only 33.9 percent of their maximum capacity, writes NCPA Research Associate John McDonald. However, some wind advocates think the nation-wide demand for electric power can be met by transporting electricity produced from renewable sources in remote areas to far-away population centers. Given the results of a recent attempt to connect the three U.S. electrical grids, the demand for renewable energy may be less than they think.