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2018-06-07 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Health Reform , 258 references
[Comments enabled]  

Here it comes folks, in two reports -- one from the Medicare trustees, and the other from Social Security.

Let's start with the easy one: Social Security.

The "fear" is that it will be unable to pay full benefits (because it will have run out of bonds that are there as a buffer) in 2034.  This is predicated on a few things, so let's list them:

  • Income levels will not generally lift.  Oh really?  More to the point, neither will the cap-out point (where you stop paying every year.)  But the latter does lift every year (it's gone up a lot since I was running MCSNet) and the former is a rather-pessimistic view of the world.  It's one that might prove correct, but it's still quite pessimistic.

  • Disability has actually improved due to fewer people going on the rolls.  Gee, how many were disabled and how many didn't want to work?  Funny how people who were and are disabled suddenly become not disabled as the economy improves.  That's fraud folks, but nobody cares.  You should, because the money being stolen is yours.

  • Through 2039 (five years beyond the projected depletion date) expenditure goes up.  However, the system was designed for this; that's why it holds Treasuries and built a huge surplus while the boomers were working.  Granted, the "surplus" was immediately spent but it was replaced by Treasury bonds, which can and are being (right now) sold.  The Fed, Congress and Obama intentionally destroyed the actuarial health of the system; the current yield on a blended basis is only 3% which is about half of what it should be for a ladder of bonds of appropriate duration.  This is not small potatoes when you're talking about a couple of trillion dollars! I want to know where the handcuffs are for Congress and the entire Federal Reserve plus all of the administrations back to the 2000 tech wreck who have all deliberately suppressed yields and continue to do so today.  But for that the retirement program would probably be sound on an actuarial basis.  Note that had interest been at normal levels the difference last year would have been roughly $80 billion, along with the years prior back to 2008 and on a forward basis.  $80 billion a year is real money, especially over a few decades and in fact it's probably enough to make it through the "bump" when the boomers die!  Too bad America has forgotten what a pitchfork and torch is.

  • Note that Social Security is fairly easy to "fix."  First, we can stop tampering with rates on a forward basis.  Second, we can (and probably have to) lift either the cap on wages at a faster rate (or once on a step-function basis), modestly increase the FICA tax, or some blend of both.  A less than 3% increase in the FICA rate (both halves; you pay both even though you don't see both directly) is roughly where the line is, assuming wages do not lift faster than inflation (payouts.)  If they do some or all of that will disappear; the reason is that Social Security is a progressive system; that is, your first dollar of earnings (taxable) get you more benefit when you retire than higher earnings dollars do.  So if people shift toward the higher end (before the cap-out, at which you neither pay or get more) then the deficiency closes.

The bad news is found in Medicare.

Medicare goes bust in eight years and there is no rational revenue-raising way to fix it.

For most of us who are not 75+ it will not be there unless the medical monopolists are jailed, hung or both right now.

Yes, after trial and conviction (I still believe in due process) but if we don't do it, and I remind you there is 100+ year old law that is more than sufficient to go after this issue right here and now everyone in this nation is absolutely and irrevocably ****ed if they need medical care and are over 65 just eight years from today.

Period.

There is no payroll tax adjustment that can plausibly be passed and fix this.  Medicare was designed for a medical system that consumed four percent of GDP.  Today it's nearly 20%, or five times as much.  Cost-shifting from Medicare and Medicaid is already is screwing the rest of the public blind; there is little or no more of that which can be possibly foisted off on working people.

THIS IS WHERE THE EMERGENCY IS AND WHY I HAVE RAISED HELL ABOUT IT FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES CONTINUALLY.  IT IS AND WAS OBVIOUS EVEN IN THE 1990s WHERE THIS WAS GOING TO GO IF NOT STOPPED.

Well, it not only hasn't been stopped the scamming has accelerated and unless the government puts a stop to all of the scams now within the next few years you are going to get reamed up the chute. 

This is no longer a "distant" threat.  It now will occur prior to the end of the next Presidential term, and any acceleration in the deficit in these programs, which will happen instantly when there is a recession, will likely bring forward that date by three to four years immediately rendering the problem both instant and catastrophic.

I have published several articles on real fixes for these issues.  One can be found here, and it's a good place to start.

We either demand it as a nation and back that demand up with whatever we need to in order to make it happen or this nation, it's economy, and our government are all gone inside of the next ten years.

Politicians will not act until and unless we, the people force them to do so.  They only care about the next election and being able to "retire" into some lobbying position at five times their government salary.

You either get off your ass now and force your government to hold the entire medical system to account under anti-trust law or you had better make damn sure you don't need medical care of any sort -- no prescription drugs, no doctors and no hospitals -- and are willing to either get on a plane (if you can) for treatment or die should that change for you.

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2017-11-01 12:14 by Karl Denninger
in Health Reform , 504 references
[Comments enabled]  

Ok, so I have the APTC for a single person who has reduced income to right near $20,000 a year for 2018.

In Florida it is now $760/month, or $9,120 a year.

This is wildly up from $446 for last year; in fact it's up 70%.

This means I can now have a Silver plan for about $15/month, as opposed to a very low-level Bronze plan for under a buck.  I can also choose virtually all the Bronze plans for zero (since the cost is lower than the APTC), but that would be insane since I'd be leaving a huge amount of your money on the table.

The actuarial value of a "Silver" plan is wildly better than any of the Bronze plans.

There is one "gotcha", which is hospitalization co-insurance that does exist on the Silver plan but not on the Bronze.  But the Silver plan in question has a zero deductible, so even with 20% "coinsurance" you'd have to run a hell of a bill to lose that bet especially considering that you get the insurance-company racketeering-deduction price.

Folks, you have to be flat-out nuts to work harder and run into the subsidy phase-out, especially if you have a spouse, even if you do need routine medical services since you can now buy zero-deductible Silver plans for less than the cost of a burger-and-beer in your local pub!

QUIT ****ING WORKING AT $20,000 A YEAR OF INCOME, FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE YOUR LIFE FIT IN THAT EARNINGS LEVEL AND YOU WILL NOT ONLY PAY BASICALLY ZERO FEDERAL TAX (OTHER THAN EMPLOYMENT TAXES, OF COURSE) AND YOU WILL GET CLOSE TO $10,000 OF "HEALTH INSURANCE" WITH A ZERO-DEDUCTIBLE PLAN  FOR UNDER $200 A YEAR.

No, you probably can't do this in high-cost-of-living areas without living in a slum.  Yes, you can make it work perfectly-well in lower-cost-of-living areas and be perfectly fine.  I'm doing it and you can too.  Yes, it means you have to change your lifestyle but I'll be double-******ned if I'm going to go out and earn a six-figure income and then have government thieves not only tax more than half of it away (which they will) but then double-monkey-**** me by extracting approximately $10,000 in after tax money in addition from me for "insurance" that, unless I have some sort of medical catastrophe in the next 12 months in fact provides zero value to me.

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**** you Mr. President and your "Executive Order."

Double-**** you Rand Paul.

There is no "reform" in your Executive Order; selling insurance across state lines and allowing "skinny" plans does nothing to address cost.

You could, via Executive Order, direct the FTC to go after medical providers of all stripes for refusing to publish prices, declaring such an action to be a deceptive practice and thus in violation of Federal Law and Regulation.  Every single business we deal with daily, with the exception of health care, posts prices and thus allows us to shop before we buy.  It is only health care that lacks this essential element of a market and in any other line of work such would have long-ago led to enforcement actions and even indictments.

You could, via Executive Order, direct Jeff Sessions to enforce 15 USC Chapter 1 against all medical firms as regard disparate pricing based on one's insurance status, a clearly-extortionate and illegal act under 100+ year old law which forbids any collusive act intended to limit competition and/or fix prices.  Said law has been challenged twice by the insurance industry all the way up to the United States Supreme Court with the first such challenge in 1979 (Group Life & Health .v. Royal Drug, 440 US 205) claiming an exemption for health insurance providers under McCarran-Ferguson.  THEY LOST.  I have repeatedly heard from myriad "lawmakers" that health insurance and medical providers are exempt from anti-trust; this is a bald lie given that there are two cases which went to the United States Supreme Court and were lost after attempting to assert exactly this claim.  What's even more outrageous is that after the second loss the State of California wrote a section into their BPR code (similar to the federal CFRs) that explicitly exempts health providers from the effects of that US Supreme Court decision yet it is a fact that no state regulator or legislature can exempt someone from a federal law.  That such a claim continues to be made by lawmakers, including Matt Gaetz just recently here in a Town Hall meeting in Florida, is an outrage and a deliberate fraud upon the public in which you are not only complicit you are the chief fraud enabler and promoter.

You, Mr. President, had not one but two items in your platform when running for President that addressed these issues, with one of them requiring the publication of prices.  As soon as you were elected that provision disappeared and has never been seen or heard since.

You're a damned liar Mr. President, and watching you at the dias this morning I want to ****ing puke at the crap you are running on the American people with the full support of Rand Paul, who likewise wants to screw Americans by extending anti-trust protection to all medical providers.  He has in fact repeatedly tried to pass such a provision which would make legal that which currently is not, and which has been ruled illegal twice at the US Supreme Court but which your Administration, just like the previous ones, refuse to enforce.

The actions of this industry are illegal and between them medical firms steal over $3 trillion a year from Americans, enough for each and every American family to afford the payment on a middle-class house.

**** you Mr. President, **** you Rand Paul, and **** you Congress.  

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Here it is:

"Notwithstanding any other provision in state or federal law, a person who presents themselves while uninsured to any provider of a medical good or service shall not be charged a price greater than that which Medicare pays for the same drug, device, service or combination thereof."

That's it.

One sentence.

If you want to add a penalty clause with it I propose the following:

"Any bill rendered to a person in excess of said amounts shall (1) be deemed void, with all services and goods provided as a gift without charge or taxable consequence to said consumer but not deductible by said physician or facility from any income or occupational tax and (2) is immediately due to the customer in the exact amount presented as liquidated damages for the fraud so-attempted."

It ends the "Chargemaster" ripoff game.

It ends the $150,000 snake bite or the $80,000 scorpion sting.

It ends the $500,000 cancer treatment.

It ends all of that, immediately and instantly.

I remind you that Medicare is required to set pay rates by law at a level that in fact are profitable -- that is, above cost by a modest amount -- for everything it covers.  Further, those pay rates are audited regularly to prove that they in fact are above cost.

Does this solve every problem?  No, and in fact that would leave alone the existing monopolistic pricing systems that many medical providers, whether they be drug makers, device makers, service providers or otherwise have in place.  It would do exactly nothing to get rid of the 10 paper pushers hired for every doctor or nurse, none of whom ever provide one second of care to an actual person through their entire time of employment.

But it would instantly end walking into an emergency room and getting hammered with a $50,000 bill for something that Medicare will pay $5,000 for.

I remind you that even quite poor people can manage to come up with $5,000 in a life-threatening emergency.  Sure, they might wind up paying 25% interest on the credit card, they might have to stop smoking their $5 pack/day cigs, and it might take them three or five years to pay it off, but they can probably do it.

It's not an answer to the problems the mediscam imposes on society, but it would sure as hell bring down costs for people instantly and permanently, and would make the decision to not carry insurance one that people could opt for while having a rational shot at paying cash -- at least for those in the middle class or better, for whom a $5,000 surprise would be bad, but bearable.

More to the point with the crazy deductibles today the $5,000 would actually buy care and eviscerate the insurance ripoff at the same time, because today you get to pay the $5,000 plus another $10k/year in "premiums" -- for exactly nothing.

This matters because most of the argument for so-called "health insurance" is actually about extortion -- either buy the product or be ruined with charges that are 5, 10 or even 100x what someone who has bought the product will pay.

Ending that will force health insurance companies to actually provide a product that is affordable and provides a reasonable set of benefits -- or people can simply stick up the finger and pay cash.

Pass that, which should take no more than 30 seconds to introduce and put on the floor of both the House and Senate and then we can debate this as a permanent solution.

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2017-04-04 09:16 by Karl Denninger
in Health Reform , 970 references
[Comments enabled]  

Let's talk about the implementation of my model bill that I recently posted to reform health care on a permanent basis.

It's fairly easy to envision timelines based on complexity.  Simply put, most of this isn't complex because providers have price lists now -- you just can't see them.  So with that said, let's look at an example and assume The Bill was passed and signed somewhere around 30 September -- or the close of the fiscal year.

What's next?  The following timeline appears to be reasonable.

Beginning immediately on signature with implementation required on or before 1/1/2018:

  • CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; the existing federal agency) would be required to spin up the interface for Treasury to verify whether someone who presents credentials as a US citizen or lawful permanent resident is, in fact, a citizen or lawful permanent resident.  Treasury already has this via the Social Security Administration, since they have the records of all issued Social Security numbers and addresses from tax filings.  In fact you can get at this right now (for yourself) via http://ssa.gov.  CMS also already has an electronic interface system for all medical providers who are registered in order to submit Medicare or Medicaid billing; ergo, the infrastructure is already in place along with access credentials.  Medical providers who wish to avail themselves of the ability to bill Treasury for indigent patients would have to register, but the number of providers currently not registered is a tiny minority of the whole.

  • CMS begins publication of Medicare reimbursement rates for all procedures, drugs and devices.  CMS already has developed and maintains this information so this is simply a publication of existing data and can be done very quickly.  The list may be updated annually as is now the case however with Medicare being a reimbursement source but not a direct billing source as of 1/1/2019 fair notice to all non-Advantage Medicare recipients so they can start shopping providers and services is necessary. (Medicare Advantage customers will have this data from the Medicare Advantage company they select and it may well be different between different Medicare Advantage providers.)

  • Providers must put together their price lists.  They have three months to do so; failure to have and post one as of 1/1/2018 means you're closed!

On 1/1/2018:

  • Providers must post their prices and on demand honor them, along with affirmative consent requirements.  A customer may present him or herself on January 1st 2018 and request the published price.  If they do so then binding, fixed-price treatment per the price schedule and treatment consent rules in the bill must be honored.  Note that all such binding prices must include any consequential events or complications (e.g. those caused by the treatment or the facility in question.)

  • No event caused by a provider or treatment may be billed to the customer.  Alignment of the customer's interest in NOT having an MRSA infection, for example, with the provider's interest in reducing their cost must take place on an expedited basis.

  • "Most favored" nation pricing for drugs begins.  No exceptions, no apologies.  Drug prices drop like a stone.

  • Open testing begins.  If you wish to purchase a test or other diagnostic without invasive exposure beyond a blood draw and not bearing radiation or similar exposure, you may -- for cash and without a prescription or doctor's order.  Since all medical providers must have posted prices on 1/1/2018 you have a list of prices available to you and places to shop from.

  • Auxiliary services must be open.  You can buy said test wherever you want and bring the results to your doctor for consultation or treatment, without limitation.

  • A 365 day period begins during which medical providers may continue to maintain records and coding, but they must also provide human-readable records at the point of service to the consumer.  Since there is basically no medical office in the nation that doesn't have PCs or similar this is trivially done; 3 months is more than enough time to put in place the policy to provide records at the time of treatment to the consumer.

  • CMS and Treasury continue their tax processing and billing integration work with a start date of 365 days hence, or 1/1/2019.  This will be necessary to deal with EMTALA repeal and related from the bill.

  • A 180 day notification period begins during which lifestyle modification is mandatory for those with existing conditions on public medical assistance in order to receive Treasury Billing (and potential medical debt forgiveness at death due to their indigence.)  This specifically applies to Type II diabetes suffers on publicly-funded health programs, although the list of conditions will likely expand.  Those who claim that cessation of eating carbs and PUFAs are not sufficient to bring their blood glucose either under control or materially improve their condition may challenge the individual applicability to them during this time, and must prove same via isolation test (which will likely take less than 48 hours!) with them bearing the cost of the testing in cash if they lose.  Since nearly all of these people either have or should have home instrumentation (e.g. a blood glucose meter), and those who don't can certainly buy one for a few dollars at any drug store including such outlets as WalMart over the counter, they ought to have damn good evidence before attempting to claim an exemption.  These people will also know in advance, or easily be able to determine, if they're going to get caught if they try claiming an exemption and are lying.

  • A 180 day period begins during which Health Insurance companies are required to put together true insurance offerings as required under the Bill to continue selling any health-related policy with effect beyond 12/31/2018.  Since state regulators typically require some notice period (usually six months) this means they must submit same by 6/30/2018.

On 7/1/2018:

  • Medicare and Medicaid recipients with diabetes who have not made the lifestyle adjustments required are cut off from further government funded or transferred billing for their condition until and unless they make the required lifestyle change for at least six months.  They had six months warning and ability.  For the last six months of 2018 the Federal Government, during the remainder of the transition, will see approximately $200 billion in reduced spending. 20% of the adults in the United States have had their pants fall off.

  • Health insurance companies must have posted to the states their catastrophic plan pricing and coverage, along with whatever other offerings they wish to make for the 2019 calendar year.

  • All providers who intend to bill indigent customers must be registered with CMS to provide CMS with sufficient time to process any pending applications and resolve questions prior to 1/1/2019.

On 1/1/2019:

  • Level pricing and quote-before-service (and the procedures for exigent circumstances) for all customers is mandatory.

  • Centralized medical record and coding requirements end and all customers must receive their medical records at the point of service.  The AMA's monopoly on coding revenue (which, IMHO, should have resulted in them being indicted years ago) ends.

  • EMTALA repeal is effective; illegal immigrants no longer can access emergency services at the public's expense.

  • Medicaid repeal is effective at both State and Federal levels; all Medicaid spending ends.

  • Medicare Part "B" repeal is effective.  For "HMO" or "PPO" style coverage post this date Seniors can buy Medicare Advantage policies as they do now but they are not compelled to do so (as they are now.)

  • PPACA repeal is effective; all Obamacare policies, taxes and tax credits end.

  • US Code and CFR amendments to remove the PPACA, Medicaid, and Medicare Part "B" components become effective.

  • Lifestyle requirements continue.  Again, this specifically applies to Type II diabetes where a zero-cost lifestyle change simply comprised of what one eats is sufficient to reduce or eliminate drug and procedure requirements along with the degenerative effects of the condition.

  • All citizens or permanent residents who assert inability to pay a provider now have their bills submitted to Treasury for payment within 30 days.  The customer can choose any provider but the price charged must be level as for anyone else.  Providers who have more than 50% of their customers submitting invoices to Treasury on an annual dollar-billed basis are subject to audit for charges being reasonable and non-collusive (see below.)  The 60 day "no fault cure" policy begins for those who have bills submitted to Treasury due to a claim of inability to pay and tax liens begin to accrue on March 3rd, 2019.

  • For those on Medicare CMS continues to provide the payment rates it will cover to the public for Parts A and D but the customer must submit claim for payment and is responsible for the difference should the price charged be higher than the reimbursement amount.  Medicare customers thus now have an incentive to shop and no restriction on which provider they use for services.  For Medicare customers not using an "Advantage" plan Medicare Part "B" ends both as to the premium collected and benefit disbursed since Part "B" has been deleted.  For Seniors who find themselves unable to afford the portion of payment they must make even with Medicare's typical 80/20 split due to indigence they may assert that indigence just as can a former Medicaid customer and as such low-income Seniors are protected to a much greater extent than is currently the case with Medicare since they enjoy 100% access to all medical providers -- a huge increase in choice compared to today and they have access to the same billing deferral via Treasury that former Medicaid consumers have.

  • For former Medicaid consumers they may assert indigence and thus may access any medical provider as may anyone else who can pay cash.  This is a massive improvement in their access to health services over today as many providers today refuse Medicaid patients (other than via the ER!), but it comes with a tax lien that, should their economic circumstances improve in the future or should they have refundable tax credits, they will be expected to pay.  As a result former Medicaid recipients will, for the first time, have an incentive to both shop and consume medical services wisely.  Many former Medicaid consumers will choose to pay cash, especially for drugs, since a large variety of drugs will be available at monthly costs similar to that of a cup of coffee from McDonalds, but for services where they cannot afford to pay directly the safety net will be available via the Treasury.

  • Private and corporate-funded catastrophic plans, along with any new "PPO" type plans, take effect.  
    With price transparency and no billing obfuscation or "hiding" insurance costs drop like a stone.  Typical "catastrophic" coverage will be available for a few hundred dollars a year.

  • Direct and hidden billing of insurance companies of all sorts, along with "explanation of benefits" nonsense and the implied extortion attendant with same ends.  The customer is billed at a level price as with all other customers for the same good or service; whatever insurance they may have, whether it covers the service(s) provided and how much it will cover is between only the customer and the insurance company.  Collusive behavior, hidden pricing, performance of procedures without prior consent (except in exigent circumstance) and price-fixing disappears entirely.

  • For the first time in 30 years real competition breaks out in the medical field -- not just on price but also on quality of service.  With cost and outcomes exposed customers will be able to research and choose just as they choose a cellphone or automobile today.
  • Non-citizens/non-green-card holders have no right to treatment of any sort nor does any provider have liability for refusal to provide it without payment.  Non-citizens and non-green-card holders (visitors, illegal immigrants, etc) may purchase services and products for cash should they be willing and able to do so.

  • State CON laws and similar are all pre-empted.

  • Mandatory enforcement of 15 USC and the civil rights of action for individual consumers against medical providers for price-fixing, collusion and similar offenses begins.  Note that providers who collude or attempt to defraud Treasury and allegedly low-income customers claiming indigence (who really aren't) are subject to mandatory prosecution and punishment under the Bill.

And.... it's done.

The medical scam has ended.

There are no more Federal Deficits; in fact, we run a perpetual budget surplus and begin paying down the national debt.

Your standard of living starts going up every year even without a raise by about 1% each and every year instead of going down as it does today.

We no longer pay for illegal immigrant medical care at all from public funds.

You get a price that is the same as everyone else for the same good or service in the medical field just as you do at the grocery store, the gas station and the local restaurant.  The outrageous price discrimination (sometimes as much as 10, 20 or even 100x or more) served up on some people -- discrimination that usually bankrupts the consumer in question -- ends permanently.

You know exactly how much you will be billed for a medical procedure, drug or device before you choose to undergo that procedure or accept the treatment.  Your insurance company, if you have one, will have to make available what they will pay and the hospital, doctor or pharmacist must tell you what they will charge.  You will thus know what the total cost to you will be -- before you sign a consent form or have a procedure done.

If you get an infection from a hospital you cannot be billed for the drugs and time to treat that which they gave you due to their incompetence.  That risk and cost is finally on them, which will drive innovation and greater care to prevent such infections that harm and even kill Americans today.

If you can't pay you will still be treated and can still choose your doctor, but you will be responsible to cover the (much more-reasonable) bill if you become able to pay it in the future.  This will permanently put an end to the practice of poor people using the ER like a doctor's office since this sort of abuse will no longer be advantageous compared against going to a regular physician.

Drug prices fall in the United States by at least half (and more likely by 80% or more on an average basis) and for those with chronic diseases that have been sucking down drugs and procedures while refusing to make simple, zero-cost lifestyle changes they finally have a strong incentive to both do so and have their health improve materially at the same time.

There will be no more $300,000 snake bites, $150,000 scorpion stings and $1,000-per-stitch fees that get lumped on you without any way to prevent them when something bad and random happens.  Any medical provider who tries it will find their bill void and they will be prosecuted for fraud.

Obesity and diabetes incidence falls dramatically since it is now strongly in everyone's best interest to practice simple changes in their lifestyle.  An epidemic has broken out -- of people having their pants fall off.  It's a good epidemic and America is noted and lauded as being the first nation to have reversed the increasing rate of obesity and Type II diabetes.

The nation becomes far more productive as the cost of employing someone drops by a solid 15% and America becomes the place to put a multi-national business.  In short labor expense drops tremendously and productivity soars.

If you're not a currently-overpaid administrator you get a raise; for a typical median family it will be about 10% immediately as your employer's cost of having you on staff will drop by at least that amount.  For the average family of four you will see, net of your medical expenses, roughly $7,000 richer in cash spending power after tax each and every year.

Those who are currently-overpaid administrators in health care will find jobs in other sectors.  It may take a while but it will happen, as the economy comes roaring back with the newfound efficiency and productivity improvement from deleting the fraud currently consuming almost one dollar in five.

State and local pensions and budgets stabilize and, over time, taxes come down at the state and local level as the levies put in place to try to stay ahead of the pension destruction are no longer necessary.  Specifically, property taxes decrease materially which will cause both the cost of owning a house and rents to decline.

Your car insurance gets cheaper as your liability policy, much of which covers medical expenses coming from accidents where you are at fault, along with uninsured motorist coverage, will decrease dramatically in cost.

Federal Spending will contract to something similar to this -- and I note that this chart presents a pessimistic estimate. We would almost-certainly do better than what is depicted here and, I remind you, both Seniors and indigent citizens would receive better care and more choice than they have now.

And we prevent this -- our federal debt -- from blowing up in our face as the CBO currently predicts -- an event that, if it occurs, will destroy the nation just a few years from now.

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