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Dear Washington: It’s premiums, stupid

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President Trump remarked a few months ago that health care is incredibly complicated. His first clue should have been that medical doctors have to go to school and serve as interns for a very long time before they’re allowed to practice by themselves.

Guaranteeing 20 million people who wouldn’t buy health insurance get it, in exchange for millions of families who desperately need affordable health insurance to pay for their care not being able to afford premiums is wrong-headed and stupid.

His second clue should have been that most people, upon arrival at a health care facility, have to endure running the gauntlet of check-in procedures, insurance cards, co-pays, and forms required for HIPAA and other federal laws. But billionaires who were born with silver spoons hanging from Sikorsky helicopters don’t worry about such things.

In the days of Marcus Welby, M.D.-style medicine, you would call the doctor, and the doctor would come, with a black medical bag. That’s only possible now if (a) you and the doctor are close, warm, personal friends, or (b) you’re rich. The rich can buy pretty much anything they want except good health. Even billionaires get sick, and if there’s one doctor on the planet who can help them, that man can still say “no.” Or he can say “yes, pay me” and the billionaire still dies.

Nobody can buy more life with money. It’s not what economists would call a fungible good. So, yes, it’s complicated.

But in America, we’ve taken complicated to Byzantine levels. We’ve got medical providers—the person who actually sees you; then there’s the medical facility or practice; there’s the administrative group that handles records and billing for the facility; there’s the insurance carrier; and there’s the ever-looming federal government.

The nanny state.

The process of obtaining “health care” is needlessly complicated by a government fixated on as many people as possible participating in a risk-sharing system known as health insurance. The ACA, “Obamacare,” grafted a massive government Medicaid program onto the existing health insurance market, and killed it.

Insurance company after company have withdrawn from state markets because they can’t afford to pay the claims. And people who used to get insurance from their employers at reasonable premiums now can’t afford the coverage. That’s because Obamacare mandated minimum coverages, required insurers to accept pre-existing conditions (like selling fire insurance on an already-torched house), and failed to get enough young, well people into the risk pool to cover the expenses.

This despite the fact that health insurance was required on penalty of hefty fines. But fines only deter to a degree. I read a story a while ago about how Rhode Island charged so much to register a tractor trailer to legally drive through the state that it was cheaper to pay the fines if you’re caught. I think you can guess the result of that. Similarly, people who can’t afford Obamacare premiums and 20 percent increases took their chances with the IRS.

Now President Trump did away with the IRS fines. And the U.S. Senate is about to pass some kind of health care reform, after the House of Representatives passed their version. While Senators and Congressmen argue over funding for Planned Parenthood and tax credits, and the number of people who will “lose health care,” a lot of folks who actually need health insurance aren’t insured because they can’t pay for it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-life, and I care about giving a half billion dollars to abortionists. We shouldn’t do it. But on the other hand, our government has it totally wrong about health care. People without health insurance don’t lose health care. Health insurance should be a purely voluntary risk decision, which insurance companies are very well able to deal with.

It’s not the government’s responsibility to ensure everyone has equal health care. That’s because it’s impossible—remember, life is not a fungible good, and even billionaires get sick and die. The only way to ensure everyone gets equal health care is to ensure nobody gets it, so we all get zero. We are headed that way.

Government should have one goal. They should get out of the way. Provide what’s needed for those in genuine need, and ration it if necessary. For everyone else, let the market rule so premiums can decline. Keep drug companies from making obscene profit from patents for the public good, and that’s it.

We’re tired of the nanny state. A note to Washington lawmakers from Americans: It’s the premiums, stupid.

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Media

Our YouTube channel has launched and it’s so much fun

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Our YouTube channel has launched and its so much fun

Everyone discovers something amazing later than they probably should have. I had a friend who was in his late 30s before he tried an In ‘n Out burger despite living in southern California his whole life. He probably never would have tried it until he hired a former manager at the restaurant chain who said he still eats there weekly despite working there for years. This made my friend curious and he kicked himself for passing up on trying the delicious burgers for decades.

When we first launched NOQ Report last year, one of the guys advising me about it recommended accompanying the articles with videos. He thought if we put together a proper YouTube channel and possibly even a podcast, we could add a totally different dimension and reach a separate audience. I declined for over a year because I was worried it would take too much time.

I was right, but it doesn’t matter. After putting out four videos in three days, I’m hooked.

There’s a completely different mentality when researching a topic for video. I’m forced to be more precise with my words because I can’t simply link out to other references as I can with articles. I have to explain it all, and while I thought it would be an announce, it turns out that it actually makes things easier. I can explain the details of something much more easily by speaking about it than trying to write it or reference others. That’s the beauty of video. It’s more of a direct recording of thoughts when speaking into a microphone instead of typing on a keyboard.

Now that we’re producing videos, we need subscribers. Please head over to our YouTube channel, hit subscribe, and be sure to hit the little bell to receive alerts at well.

Here are the four videos we’ve made so far. Please leave us feedback on how to improve as well as topics you’d like us to cover in the future.

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Immigration

Little if any progress as partial government shutdown looms

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Little if any progress as partial government shutdown looms

WASHINGTON (AP) — The fight over President Donald Trump’s $5 billion wall funds has deepened, threatening a partial government shutdown in a standoff that has become increasingly common in Washington.

It wasn’t always like this, with Congress and the White House at a crisis over government funding. The House and Senate used to pass annual appropriation bills, and the president signed them into law. But in recent years the shutdown scenario has become so routine that it raises the question: Have shutdowns as a negotiating tool lost their punch?

Monday brought few signs of progress. A partial shutdown that could occur at midnight Friday risks disrupting government operations and leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed or working without pay over the holiday season. Costs would be likely in the billions of dollars.

Trump was meeting with his team and getting regular updates, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Trump was also tweeting Monday to keep up the pressure.

Exiting a Senate Republican leadership meeting late Monday, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said, “It looks like it probably is going to have to build for a few days here before there’s a solution.”

The president is insisting on $5 billion for the wall along the southern border with Mexico, but he does not have the votes from the Republican-led Congress to support it. Democrats are offering to continue funding at current levels, $1.3 billion, not for the wall but for fencing and other border security.

It’s unclear how many House Republicans, with just a few weeks left in the majority before relinquishing power to House Democrats, will even show up midweek for possible votes. Speaker Paul Ryan’s office had no update. Many Republicans say it’s up to Trump and Democrats to cut a deal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump talk most days, but the senator’s spokesman would not confirm if they spoke Monday about a plan. McConnell opened the chamber hoping for a “bipartisan collaborative spirit” that would enable Congress to finish its work.

“We need to make a substantial investment in the integrity of our border,” McConnell said. “And we need to close out the year’s appropriation process.”

Meanwhile more than 800,000 government workers are preparing for the uncertainty ahead.

The dispute could affect nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice, as well as national parks and forests.

About half the workers would be forced to continue working without immediate pay. Others would be sent home. Congress often approves their pay retroactively, even if they were ordered to stay home.

“Our members are asking how they are supposed to pay for rent, food, and gas if they are required to work without a paycheck,” said a statement from J. David Cox, Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the large federal worker union. “The holiday season makes these inquiries especially heart-wrenching.”

Many agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, are already funded for the year and will continue to operate as usual, regardless of whether Congress and the president reach agreement this week.

Congress already approved funding this year for about 75 percent of the government’s discretionary account for the budget year that began Oct. 1.

The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, wouldn’t be affected by any government shutdown because it’s an independent agency.

Trump said last week he would be “proud” to have a shutdown to get Congress to approve a $5 billion down payment to fulfill his campaign promise to build a border wall.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico has refused.

Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, in a meeting last week at the White House, suggested keeping funding at its current level, $1.3 billion, for improved fencing. Trump had neither accepted nor rejected the Democrats’ offer, telling them he would take a look.

Schumer said Monday he had yet to hear from Trump. Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer warned that “going along with the Trump shutdown is a futile act” because House Democrats would quickly approve government funding in January.

“President Trump still doesn’t have a plan to keep the government open,” Schumer said Monday. “No treat or temper tantrum will get the president his wall.”

One option for lawmakers would be to provide stopgap funding for a few weeks, until the new Congress convenes Jan. 3, when Pelosi is poised to become House speaker.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who is in line to become the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, suggested a stopgap bill could be one way to resolve the issue or a longer-term bill that includes money for border security.

GOP leaders, though, were frustrated as the clock ticked away. Leaving the weekly leadership meeting, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said any planning was a “very closely held thing. That’s why we should never let this happen. We should pass the bills the way we’re supposed to pass them.”

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Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

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Entertainment and Sports

Missouri poacher ordered to repeatedly watch ‘Bambi’

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Missouri poacher ordered to repeatedly watch Bambi

OZARKS, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri poacher has been ordered to repeatedly watch the movie “Bambi” as part of his sentence in a scheme to illegally kill hundreds of deer.

David Berry Jr. was ordered to watch the Disney classic at least once a month during his year-long jail sentence in what conservation agents have called one of the largest deer poaching cases in state history, the Springfield News-Leader reports .

“The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste,” said Don Trotter, the prosecuting attorney in Lawrence County.

Berry, his father, two brothers and another man who helped them had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked temporarily or permanently. The men have paid a combined $51,000 in fines and court costs — but the judge ordered a special addition to Berry’s sentence for illegally taking wildlife.

Court records show he was ordered by Lawrence County Judge Robert George to “view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before December 23, 2018, and at least one such viewing each month thereafter” while at the county jail.

Berry was also sentenced to 120 days in jail in nearby Barton County for a firearms probation violation.

His father, David Berry Sr., and his brother, Kyle Berry, were arrested in August after a nearly nine-month investigation that also involved cases in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. The Missouri Department of Conservation said information from the investigation led to 14 Missouri residents facing more than 230 charges in 11 counties.

Investigators say David Berry Sr.’s other son, Eric Berry, was later caught with another person spotlighting deer, where poachers use light at night to make deer pause and easier to hunt.

The investigation into the Berrys began in late 2015, when the conservation agency received an anonymous tip about deer poaching in Lawrence County.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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