Category: John Foley

Save Illinois: Take the Pledge


As many people know, Illinois is a fiscal mess and a national leader in out-migration.  To turn Illinois around, how about our elected officials Take the Pledge this November?  Will our elected officials endorse these eight suggestions?  Does any of these suggestions apply to your state?

1. Illinois is sinking in pension debt.  Moving to a 401(K)/403(b) defined contribution plan for all new State of Illinois hires with the ability to put all newly hired public-sector (municipal, school, etc.) employees on a defined contribution plan as well will finally put a cap on unfunded pension liabilities and give certainty to businesses and job-seekers about the future of Illinois.  Illinois recently moved to Tier 3 pensions, hybrid defined benefit-defined contribution plans that include a defined benefit component.  This hinders the ability of public-sector employees to seek private-sector employment without compromising their defined benefit plan.

According to Reuters (February 2018), Illinois has an unfunded public pension liability of $129 billion.  This is up from $111 billion in 2016.  Moving new public-sector hires to a defined contribution plan caps unfunded pension liability.  In addition, the funds in the public-sector employee’s account belong to him – allowing him to move freely between public- and private-sector employment without losing his 35% funded Illinois pension.  No more public-sector job lock, no more collecting multiple pensions, no more unfunded pension liability – a win for all.

2. Freeze public-sector hiring until we have shrunk the state workforce by 11.5% via attrition.  Assuming a 4% turnover, this should take three years.  The average cost per state employee (wages, benefits) is $97,545.  Shrinking the payroll by 11.5% saves taxpayers at least $839 million in payroll cost, allowing Illinois to start working down the size of the unfunded pension liability.  Those in need of state services will receive their services at a slower rate while a greater role for technological efficiency is implemented – but they will get their services.

3. Repeal the 32% tax increase that went into effect July 1, 2017.  In theory, this income tax increase generated $5 billion of revenue.  In reality, it just continues to drive productive citizens and businesses out of Illinois.

4. Reduce taxing bodies.  How about that Richmond Cemetery District?  Those 13 miles of road handled by the Vernon Township Highway Department (Michael Lofstrom, highway commissioner)?  School districts should be combined so that the district is accountable to the student, kindergarten through 12th grade.  There is no reason for any community to have two highly compensated superintendents (and administrations) with limited accountability.  Some of this is a local control issue, which we need to address on a local basis.  All the same, using the bully pulpit to advocate for less taxing bodies serves the interests of the resident can only help in turning Illinois around.

5. Work requirement for SNAP and Medicaid.  By requiring that those receiving state assistance work 20 hours per week, Maine was able to reduce the number of Medicaid participants by 80,000 people.  Assuming that Illinois was 65% as effective as Maine on a per thousand basis, we would reduce the Medicaid rolls by 500,000 people, saving taxpayers $3.3 billion per year.  Those working in the cash economy who falsely claim the need for SNAP and Medicaid will now need to make a choice: work 20 hours per week to receive their SNAP and Medicaid, or exit the rolls.  Reducing the SNAP and Medicaid rolls should be a point of pride, since this means more of our population is self-sustaining.  Transitioning to the private marketplace and reducing the SNAP and Medicaid rolls are an accomplishment that should be celebrated.

6. Close the public-private pay disparity.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average public-sector employee earns $48.78/hour.  The average private-sector employee earns $33.55/hour.  Yes, you read that right.  Public-sector employees make 45.4% more than you, Mr. Private-Sector Worker.  This unconscionable gap needs to be closed via slowing down the rate of pay increases below the rate of inflation, shifting more of the cost of the health insurance and pension onto the public-sector employee – just as the private sector has done.  It isn’t a race to the bottom; it is a race to financial sustainability.  There has been a lot of talk about the gender gap in employee pay.  We need to address the pay gap between public and private employees and close it over the next 20 years.

7. Create representative districts drawn by an independent panel, as done in Iowa.  Many states have gerrymandered their districts.  To what end?  Uncompetitive races have only suppressed voter participation in our democracy.  Other states gerrymander – that doesn’t make it right.  Our gerrymandering has led Illinois to the depths of financial despair, with people leaving the state at the clip of 114,779 in 2017.  Over 563,000 citizens of Illinois signed the petition in 2014 (and again in 2016) for the Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment for just this, only to be suppressed by our court system.

8. Term limits.  Term limits are universally supported by people of all shapes and sizes.  They are not supported by career politicians.  Their magnificently gerrymandered districts guarantee them political careers that enrich their families (I won’t name names) at our expense.

None of these eight suggestions results in the loss of public services to those in need.  No one loses his job.  It shows the needed maturity to address our challenges head on and a seriousness about turning our great state around.

You want my vote?  Let me know you are taking The Pledge.

As many people know, Illinois is a fiscal mess and a national leader in out-migration.  To turn Illinois around, how about our elected officials Take the Pledge this November?  Will our elected officials endorse these eight suggestions?  Does any of these suggestions apply to your state?

1. Illinois is sinking in pension debt.  Moving to a 401(K)/403(b) defined contribution plan for all new State of Illinois hires with the ability to put all newly hired public-sector (municipal, school, etc.) employees on a defined contribution plan as well will finally put a cap on unfunded pension liabilities and give certainty to businesses and job-seekers about the future of Illinois.  Illinois recently moved to Tier 3 pensions, hybrid defined benefit-defined contribution plans that include a defined benefit component.  This hinders the ability of public-sector employees to seek private-sector employment without compromising their defined benefit plan.

According to Reuters (February 2018), Illinois has an unfunded public pension liability of $129 billion.  This is up from $111 billion in 2016.  Moving new public-sector hires to a defined contribution plan caps unfunded pension liability.  In addition, the funds in the public-sector employee’s account belong to him – allowing him to move freely between public- and private-sector employment without losing his 35% funded Illinois pension.  No more public-sector job lock, no more collecting multiple pensions, no more unfunded pension liability – a win for all.

2. Freeze public-sector hiring until we have shrunk the state workforce by 11.5% via attrition.  Assuming a 4% turnover, this should take three years.  The average cost per state employee (wages, benefits) is $97,545.  Shrinking the payroll by 11.5% saves taxpayers at least $839 million in payroll cost, allowing Illinois to start working down the size of the unfunded pension liability.  Those in need of state services will receive their services at a slower rate while a greater role for technological efficiency is implemented – but they will get their services.

3. Repeal the 32% tax increase that went into effect July 1, 2017.  In theory, this income tax increase generated $5 billion of revenue.  In reality, it just continues to drive productive citizens and businesses out of Illinois.

4. Reduce taxing bodies.  How about that Richmond Cemetery District?  Those 13 miles of road handled by the Vernon Township Highway Department (Michael Lofstrom, highway commissioner)?  School districts should be combined so that the district is accountable to the student, kindergarten through 12th grade.  There is no reason for any community to have two highly compensated superintendents (and administrations) with limited accountability.  Some of this is a local control issue, which we need to address on a local basis.  All the same, using the bully pulpit to advocate for less taxing bodies serves the interests of the resident can only help in turning Illinois around.

5. Work requirement for SNAP and Medicaid.  By requiring that those receiving state assistance work 20 hours per week, Maine was able to reduce the number of Medicaid participants by 80,000 people.  Assuming that Illinois was 65% as effective as Maine on a per thousand basis, we would reduce the Medicaid rolls by 500,000 people, saving taxpayers $3.3 billion per year.  Those working in the cash economy who falsely claim the need for SNAP and Medicaid will now need to make a choice: work 20 hours per week to receive their SNAP and Medicaid, or exit the rolls.  Reducing the SNAP and Medicaid rolls should be a point of pride, since this means more of our population is self-sustaining.  Transitioning to the private marketplace and reducing the SNAP and Medicaid rolls are an accomplishment that should be celebrated.

6. Close the public-private pay disparity.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average public-sector employee earns $48.78/hour.  The average private-sector employee earns $33.55/hour.  Yes, you read that right.  Public-sector employees make 45.4% more than you, Mr. Private-Sector Worker.  This unconscionable gap needs to be closed via slowing down the rate of pay increases below the rate of inflation, shifting more of the cost of the health insurance and pension onto the public-sector employee – just as the private sector has done.  It isn’t a race to the bottom; it is a race to financial sustainability.  There has been a lot of talk about the gender gap in employee pay.  We need to address the pay gap between public and private employees and close it over the next 20 years.

7. Create representative districts drawn by an independent panel, as done in Iowa.  Many states have gerrymandered their districts.  To what end?  Uncompetitive races have only suppressed voter participation in our democracy.  Other states gerrymander – that doesn’t make it right.  Our gerrymandering has led Illinois to the depths of financial despair, with people leaving the state at the clip of 114,779 in 2017.  Over 563,000 citizens of Illinois signed the petition in 2014 (and again in 2016) for the Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment for just this, only to be suppressed by our court system.

8. Term limits.  Term limits are universally supported by people of all shapes and sizes.  They are not supported by career politicians.  Their magnificently gerrymandered districts guarantee them political careers that enrich their families (I won’t name names) at our expense.

None of these eight suggestions results in the loss of public services to those in need.  No one loses his job.  It shows the needed maturity to address our challenges head on and a seriousness about turning our great state around.

You want my vote?  Let me know you are taking The Pledge.



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After the Obamacare Apocalypse: The Future of Health Care Reform


Health care reform isn’t going to go away, and it shouldn’t.  According to CNN (October 30), the average increase for a Silver plan in the United States is increasing 37%.  Those who receive taxpayer-subsidized insurance will be spared the brunt of these substantial increases.  The taxpayers will not as they fund these subsidies.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 12-month inflation rate is 1.9%. 

We have a health care problem, and Congress has to date done nothing to solve this mess impacting 12.2 million citizens created under the Obama administration.  This health care problem is stifling economic growth and crowding out innovation in other sectors of our economy, and it is every bit as dangerous as our $20 trillion of accumulated debt, built with our permission by our elected officials.

To the starry-eyed dreamers for single-payer…it won’t happen.  We have powerful forces with powerful lobbyists influencing our elected officials of both parties in Washington.  Here are a few on the “A” list:

1) AARP.  Any attempt to reform Medicare ($594-billion federal expense in 2016) into a fiscally sustainable model has been met with resistance even as the worker-to-beneficiary ratio has decreased  from 3.7 workers per beneficiary in 1970 to 2.6.  Most recently, AARP opposed the move to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.  Knowing that 25% of Medicare’s expenses are in the last year of one’s life, where does AARP stand in reducing the cost of end-of-life care?

2) AHIP (American Association of Health Insurance Plans).  They continue to demand taxpayer subsidies to the tune of $7 billion (NPR) in 2017 to insure those covered by the exchanges.  Why do taxpayers need to subsidize the insurance industry? 

3) AMA.  Why haven’t nurses, midwives, and physician assistants been given a greater scope of care in our health care?  Why are there only 141 medical schools in the USA?  The limited supply of medical schools in conjunction with a limited role for other health providers results in a limited supply of physicians, resulting in a greater demand for services, resulting in a greater price for physician services.  Does this serve the patient?  Why does Australia recommend colonoscopies in specialized circumstances (such as a family history of colon cancer) and the USA recommend colonoscopies for everyone over age 50?

4) AHA (American Hospital Association).  The merger of hospitals (many “non-profit”) into various health systems  was driven by the Affordable Care Act as an effort to circle the wagons and protect themselves from an overreaching government.  This has resulted in cartel-like behavior that has resulted in increased costs being passed on to patients and third-party payers such as insurers and our government.  If we were to have Medicare for all, do you believe that hospitals would accept a 33% loss of revenue from those covered via private insurance?  Wouldn’t this loss of revenue result in many hospitals no longer being financially viable?  According to the Becker Hospital Review, the hospital bed occupancy rate is 61%.  Doesn’t this make a case for an oversupply of hospitals?  If the federal government were to advocate closing (or reducing the scope of care) at a hospital, do you think members of Congress would let this loss of jobs happen in their districts?  Have you watched the fight members of Congress put up when a military base is going to be closed? 

5) Pharma.  Here in the U.S. (according to GoodRx.com), you can buy a year’s supply of AbbVie’s Humira (you’ve seen the advertisements, haven’t you?) for $54,444 per year.  You could also get the same Humira in the U.K. for $12,561 per year – same 40-mg pre-filled pen.  Do you think Big Pharma is going to allow a 77% reduction in price for Humira?  How about the Harvoni course of treatment that is $96,000 that you can purchase in India for $1,000 (generic Harvoni)?

6) ABA.  What would happen if we embraced the French model of reimbursing malpractice claims  outside the U.S. legal system at a fixed rate?  Wouldn’t this free up our courts and result in quicker justice for victims of malpractice?  According to JAMA, the 2015 cost of defensive medicine was $46 billion.

7) The states.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2014, the range by state for per Medicare beneficiary cost per year ranges from $12,614 (New Jersey) to $8,238 (Montana).  Why would a state that manages its health care costs better than the national average of $10,986 per Medicare beneficiary give up that competitive advantage that results in an overall lower cost of living and a lower cost of doing business?  Why should states that manage their health care costs better than their fellow states give up their competitive advantage?

Absent any concessions from these powerful organizations, “Medicare for All” will only soak the taxpayer and continue to suck the life out of our economy (and suppress our birthrate).  The problem is the cost of health care and the powerful lobbies that prop up our Medical Industrial Complex.  (Remember the phrase “Military Industrial Complex”?  That phrase first gained mainstream usage when used by President Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961!)

As with any association or union, the goal is to serve the interests of the members.  Associations pay powerful lobbyists to represent their causes to our elected officials – which isn’t necessarily the cause of the American taxpayer and citizen.

We need to come to terms with who is enabling the Medical Industrial Complex: our elected officials.

How do we defeat these powerful forces that pander to our elected officials?  The answer lies in we the people taking control of our health care and understanding that the goals of the Medical Industrial Complex do not align with ours.  Our enemies prey on our fear, causing us to misdirect finite resources. 

Any change that can de-centralize decision-making away from Washington and empower the patient is a good place to start in our efforts to rein in the cost of health care.

Health care reform isn’t going to go away, and it shouldn’t.  According to CNN (October 30), the average increase for a Silver plan in the United States is increasing 37%.  Those who receive taxpayer-subsidized insurance will be spared the brunt of these substantial increases.  The taxpayers will not as they fund these subsidies.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 12-month inflation rate is 1.9%. 

We have a health care problem, and Congress has to date done nothing to solve this mess impacting 12.2 million citizens created under the Obama administration.  This health care problem is stifling economic growth and crowding out innovation in other sectors of our economy, and it is every bit as dangerous as our $20 trillion of accumulated debt, built with our permission by our elected officials.

To the starry-eyed dreamers for single-payer…it won’t happen.  We have powerful forces with powerful lobbyists influencing our elected officials of both parties in Washington.  Here are a few on the “A” list:

1) AARP.  Any attempt to reform Medicare ($594-billion federal expense in 2016) into a fiscally sustainable model has been met with resistance even as the worker-to-beneficiary ratio has decreased  from 3.7 workers per beneficiary in 1970 to 2.6.  Most recently, AARP opposed the move to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.  Knowing that 25% of Medicare’s expenses are in the last year of one’s life, where does AARP stand in reducing the cost of end-of-life care?

2) AHIP (American Association of Health Insurance Plans).  They continue to demand taxpayer subsidies to the tune of $7 billion (NPR) in 2017 to insure those covered by the exchanges.  Why do taxpayers need to subsidize the insurance industry? 

3) AMA.  Why haven’t nurses, midwives, and physician assistants been given a greater scope of care in our health care?  Why are there only 141 medical schools in the USA?  The limited supply of medical schools in conjunction with a limited role for other health providers results in a limited supply of physicians, resulting in a greater demand for services, resulting in a greater price for physician services.  Does this serve the patient?  Why does Australia recommend colonoscopies in specialized circumstances (such as a family history of colon cancer) and the USA recommend colonoscopies for everyone over age 50?

4) AHA (American Hospital Association).  The merger of hospitals (many “non-profit”) into various health systems  was driven by the Affordable Care Act as an effort to circle the wagons and protect themselves from an overreaching government.  This has resulted in cartel-like behavior that has resulted in increased costs being passed on to patients and third-party payers such as insurers and our government.  If we were to have Medicare for all, do you believe that hospitals would accept a 33% loss of revenue from those covered via private insurance?  Wouldn’t this loss of revenue result in many hospitals no longer being financially viable?  According to the Becker Hospital Review, the hospital bed occupancy rate is 61%.  Doesn’t this make a case for an oversupply of hospitals?  If the federal government were to advocate closing (or reducing the scope of care) at a hospital, do you think members of Congress would let this loss of jobs happen in their districts?  Have you watched the fight members of Congress put up when a military base is going to be closed? 

5) Pharma.  Here in the U.S. (according to GoodRx.com), you can buy a year’s supply of AbbVie’s Humira (you’ve seen the advertisements, haven’t you?) for $54,444 per year.  You could also get the same Humira in the U.K. for $12,561 per year – same 40-mg pre-filled pen.  Do you think Big Pharma is going to allow a 77% reduction in price for Humira?  How about the Harvoni course of treatment that is $96,000 that you can purchase in India for $1,000 (generic Harvoni)?

6) ABA.  What would happen if we embraced the French model of reimbursing malpractice claims  outside the U.S. legal system at a fixed rate?  Wouldn’t this free up our courts and result in quicker justice for victims of malpractice?  According to JAMA, the 2015 cost of defensive medicine was $46 billion.

7) The states.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2014, the range by state for per Medicare beneficiary cost per year ranges from $12,614 (New Jersey) to $8,238 (Montana).  Why would a state that manages its health care costs better than the national average of $10,986 per Medicare beneficiary give up that competitive advantage that results in an overall lower cost of living and a lower cost of doing business?  Why should states that manage their health care costs better than their fellow states give up their competitive advantage?

Absent any concessions from these powerful organizations, “Medicare for All” will only soak the taxpayer and continue to suck the life out of our economy (and suppress our birthrate).  The problem is the cost of health care and the powerful lobbies that prop up our Medical Industrial Complex.  (Remember the phrase “Military Industrial Complex”?  That phrase first gained mainstream usage when used by President Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961!)

As with any association or union, the goal is to serve the interests of the members.  Associations pay powerful lobbyists to represent their causes to our elected officials – which isn’t necessarily the cause of the American taxpayer and citizen.

We need to come to terms with who is enabling the Medical Industrial Complex: our elected officials.

How do we defeat these powerful forces that pander to our elected officials?  The answer lies in we the people taking control of our health care and understanding that the goals of the Medical Industrial Complex do not align with ours.  Our enemies prey on our fear, causing us to misdirect finite resources. 

Any change that can de-centralize decision-making away from Washington and empower the patient is a good place to start in our efforts to rein in the cost of health care.



Source link