Archive for September, 2011

Balance America and Exploding Medicaid Costs

Posted by on Sep 30 2011 | Health Care, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

Friday night means public affairs television excellence with Devil’s Advocate on Colorado Public Television 12. First, I am joined by Weld County District Attorney Ken buck to talk about his new project, Balance America. Then the Independence Institute’s Linda Gorman sits down to talk about exploding Medicaid costs in Colorado. That’s 8:30 PM tonight. Re-broadcast Monday at 1:30 PM.

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School Voucher Forum: Independence v. ACLU

Posted by on Sep 29 2011 | education, PPC

I want to alert my readers of an event happening this Wednesday, October 5th from 8 to 9:15am. The South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce will be holding a forum on the real world impact school vouchers have on education. On one side will be our Education Policy Analyst Ben DeGrow and on the other side, opposing vouchers, will be someone from the Colorado ACLU. I’ve been told that this event is less a debate and more a public forum.

Here is an idea of the format: Each participant will have approximately 3-4 minutes for some opening remarks, intros, etc. That will be followed by 4-5 questions posed by the moderator. Then it will open up to questions from the audience followed by closing remarks. It will be held at the South Metro Chamber down in Centennial.

At the moment we are unsure how open to the public this forum will be. The event language makes it clear that Chamber of Commerce business leaders get first priority. But I will write another post updating the status of public participation if and when I find out. For now though, I just wanted to let everyone know this forum is happening.

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Patient Power Now: Cool Site Design!

Posted by on Sep 29 2011 | Health Care, health control law, obamacare, PPC

Like me, you’re probably a big fan of health care policy. This means you’re probably a big fan of Linda Gorman and Brian Schwartz’s Patient Power Now health care policy blog. If not, you need to go check out Patient Power… NOW! It’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the world of health care policy. And the best part is, the site better than ever! We just re-designed Patient Power to give it a cleaner look and organize the information better. And believe me, there is a ton of information on that website. So please go check it out and tell us what you think.

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Obamacare and HB 1330: Privacy Killers

Posted by on Sep 28 2011 | Health Care, health control law, obamacare, PPC, privacy

I think we at the Independence Institute were the only ones to sound the alarm over impending medical privacy invasions by our state last year. If you can remember HB 1330, you’ll recall that it was nefariously dubbed the “Health Care Cost Transparency Act.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Linda Gorman’s title for HB 1330 was much more accurate: the “transparency trojan horse.” This bill was eventually signed into law by then Governor Ritter. What it does is create a centralized database to house all of our personal medical records and thus, become “transparent.” Really, the transparency in this case means transparent to government bureaucrats. But we can find out what personal data of ours is in the database and how our data is being used right? Wrong. I’ll let Amy Oliver explain,

In Colorado, [the database administrator] is the non-profit Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC), a spin off of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF). Because it is a non-profit that means it is not subject to the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request.

Sounds transparent right? You can read all about the horrors of HB 1330 here: Linda Gorman’s bill summary.

Over on our Transparency blog, COST, Amy alerts us that Americans just found out what else was in Obamacare (in the words of Nancy Pelosi). Namely, the invasion of every single American’s medical privacy. According to this Washington Examiner article, Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, DC will centralize our personal health care data in a database to be perused by government bureaucrats. In others words, Obamacare does to Americans what HB 1330 does to Coloradans.

We asked over and over again, where are the civil libertarians? Where is the left in this massive invasion of privacy? For the left, listening to our phone calls warrants a bloody outcry but exposing our personal medical records warrants not even a peep? How about a little consistency? For those wondering why this is such a scary invasion of privacy, recall what CU Associate Law Professor Paul Ohm, who specializes in privacy issues, said about data and its anonymity, “data can either be useful or perfectly anonymous but never both.” Despite our overlords stressing that all of our medical data will remain safe and sound, we have every reason to worry. Our data will not be anonymous. And if it is completely anonymous, it will be as Paul Ohm said, “useless.”

Let’s hope this new government program hits the mark we have come to expect from most government programs: totally useless.

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The Original Constitution, 2nd Edition is Available

Posted by on Sep 27 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, Necessary and Proper, Originalism, PPC, Religion and the Law, Taxing and Spending Clause, Tenth Amendment, The Founders, U.S. Constitution

Constitutional scholar and Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence Rob Natelson released a fantastic book last year called The Original Constitution: What It Actually Said and Meant. The book was and is a huge hit. What the book did was fill a gap that was left by constitutional scholars who never got around to writing a comprehensive look at our nation’s founding document aimed at the lay person. Sure there are a lot of books out there on particular parts of the Constitution, but none that cover the whole shebang and none of them were written with your average Joe (or Jane) in mind. Rob Natelson stepped up and filled that gap.

Turns out however that Rob was not satisfied the first time around. He went back and re-worked his first edition and created and even bigger and better second edition to his book. You can find the second edition both on and the Tenth Amendment Center’s store. So how is this second edition different than the already fantastic first edition? Rob explains all that in this podcast with one of my minions Justin Longo. You can also go to Rob’s blog – – to see what Rob has to say about his second edition.

It’s difficult to improve upon a great thing. But somehow Rob did it with this new book. Thank you for all your hard work Rob. You are doing an incredible job educating us mere mortals on our nation’s founding era history.

Speaking of education… don’t forget that THIS FRIDAY is our huge Constitution event down in Colorado Springs at the Antlers Hilton. There are a few spots remaining, so please RSVP as soon as you can. Do not miss this opportunity to see constitution scholars Rob Natelson and Dave Kopel in action!

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Right to bear arms lawsuit in Illinois: Professors’ amicus brief

Posted by on Sep 26 2011 | guns, Right to carry

Currently before the Illinois Supreme Court is People v. Aguilar, which raises the question of whether Illinois can, consistently with the Second Amendment, prohibit the carrying of firearms for lawful self-defense in public places. Illinois is the only state with such a blanket prohibition. Illinois state law bans open and concealed carry, and has no procedure for licensing either. The only people allowed to exercise the right to defensive carry are persons in some specially-favored categories, such as elected officials and security guards.

Oklahoma City Univ. law professor Michael O’Shea has written an amicus brief in the case, on behalf of co-authors of the forthcoming law school textbook Firearms Law and the Second Amendment (Aspen, 2012). O’shea’s co-authors Nicholas Johnson (Fordham) and I both made some suggestions for the brief, but the vast majority of the work was done by O’Shea. As the brief demonstrates, McDonald and Heller make it clear that the Second Amendment protects a right to carry arms (except in “sensitive places”). The brief does not argue in favor of a particular system for licensed or unlicensed carry. Rather, our point is that a complete prohibition is facially unconstitutional; there is no need to get into the standard of review issues that would be involved in a regulation (as opposed to a complete prohibition) of the exercise of the right to bear arms.

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VIDEO: Denver Paid Sick Leave on Devils Advocate

Posted by on Sep 26 2011 | Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

UPDATE: This news just came out of the Spot Blog. A majority of Denver City Council members oppose the sick leave initiative. That’s in addition to Mayor Hancock and Governor Hickenlooper.

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2B Boulder is 2C Green

Posted by on Sep 23 2011 | energy, Environment, Government Largess, PPC, Taxes

Over on our Environmental Policy blog, Amy Oliver has written a couple of fantastic posts about Boulder’s municipalization dream. The dream has manifested itself in two ballot measures – 2B and 2C. These ballot measures will determine whether Boulder will cut ties with Xcel energy and start producing its own energy. Like the teenager who has had enough living under Mom and Dad’s roof, Boulder wants to sever the “dirty” energy cord and go off on its own towards a clean energy future. Sounds good right? Well… it’s not that simple.

The first problem is what Amy describes as Boulder’s Utopian Utility Effect. This is when a city believes it can have its cake and eat it too. In Boulder, that means providing all your own “clean” energy AND paying less for it. In reality, Boulder will come to realize that leaving the comfort of Xcel and the PUC means doing it all on your own – on a much smaller scale. With no gains from economies of scale and much less efficient energy sources, energy costs won’t be lower in Boulder. If anything, they’ll be much higher – as much as 15% higher.

Another problem lies in the fact that neither 2B nor 2C requires any of amount of clean energy at all. No one knows how much wind, solar, or natural gas Boulder would end up with if these ballot measures pass. In fact, it is quite conceivable that Boulder “could potentially end up with less renewables” in its power portfolio. Ouch. Furthermore, the idea that tons of natural gas will help reduce carbon emissions and global warming is also not likely. A study by Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) found that switching from coal to natural gas would do little for climate change. Oops.

Boulder needs to own up to reality. It’s nice to have hopes and aspirations, but they’ve got to be reachable to be meaningful. And at the rate Boulder is going, their fantasies are becoming more and more distant by the day. For example, take a look at this.

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Denver Paid Sick Leave Initiative 300

Posted by on Sep 23 2011 | Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

It’s Friday night and you know what that means? No, not that lonely Star Trek marathon in your mother’s basement, it’s my public affairs TV show on Colorado Public Television 12. Tonight on the Devils Advocate starring yours truly, we will be discussing Initiative 300 – Denver paid sick leave. Joining me on the pro-paid sick leave side is Rev. Mariah Hayden from Campaign for a Healthy Denver. Opposed to the initiative is Kelly Brough from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. That’s 8:30 PM tonight on Colorado Public Television 12. Re-broadcast Monday at 1:30 PM.

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“Dying” for Health Insurance

Posted by on Sep 22 2011 | Health Care, obamacare, PPC

The Bell Policy Center just sent around a “straight talk on health care” memo claiming that not having health insurance leads to death (for the record, I’d also submit the idea that being alive leads to death. Just sayin’). It said that the Institute of Medicine “found” 18,000 US deaths due to a lack of health insurance in 2000, the Urban Institute found 22,000 deaths in 2006, and Harvard Medical School found 44,789 deaths in 2009.

Fortunately, these are not real people. As shown by Health Care Policy Center Director Linda Gorman back in 2008, the Institute of Medicine basically made up its claim of 18,000. The Urban Institute followed its lead. The Obamacare pre-existing condition pool was to have saved us from this nightmare until we could find out what was actually in the Obamacare bill in 2014. As of May 31, 2011, only 18,313 of the millions and millions of uninsured people in the U.S. had demonstrated that they felt health insurance was so important to their well being that they would sign up for cut-rate government coverage. Shocking!

In fact, there is surprisingly little evidence to support The Bell claim and, by extension, the whole rationale for spending trillions of tax dollars on Obamacare. The problems with the estimates The Bell cites were discussed on the Independence Institute’s blog here and summarized by NCPA President John Goodman and Linda Gorman here.

Richard Kronick, currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Health Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reviewed the literature for Health Services Research in August 2009 and concluded that

There would not be much change in the number of deaths in the United States as a result of universal coverage, although the difficulties in inferring causality from observational analyses temper the strength of this conclusion.

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