The Opposite of Obamacare

Grind for August 3rd
“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”
– Albert Einstein

Its About Time

The Headline

President Trump signs “The Opposite of Obamacare”

The Grind

President Trump on June 24th signed an executive order that could spark key changes in the healthcare industry.

The order, dubbed “The Opposite of Obamacare,” directs the HHS to create a range of new rules including requirements for hospitals and insurers to publish negotiated rates for services and requirements for healthcare providers to speak with patients about out-of-pocket costs before services are rendered.

If the plan works as intended, it “will go down as one of the most significant steps in the long history of American healthcare reform,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

The Details

“We will empower patients with the information they need to search for the lowest cost and highest quality care,” said Trump. “People have no idea how big it is. Some people say bigger than healthcare itself…For too long it’s been virtually impossible for Americans to know the real price and quality of healthcare services and the services they receive.”

The directive comes weeks after Big Pharma sued the Trump Administration to block a rule that would have forced drug makers to include the list price of their products in television ads.

“We are fundamentally changing the nature of the healthcare marketplace,” said Trump as he signed the order. “Currently, patients do not have adequate tools to find the doctors who will deliver better health outcomes at an affordable cost.”

The executive order also improves patients’ incentives to shop around for healthcare by expanding the benefits of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which are tax-advantaged medical savings accounts designed to help patients with high-deductible insurance plans pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses.

The funds contributed to an HSA are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit.

Making Progress

The Headline

Israel approves homes for Palestinians in West Bank

The Grind

Israeli officials on Wednesday signed off on a deal to build 6,000 new homes for Jewish settlers and 700 new homes for Palestinian settlers in the West Bank.

Palestinian leaders immediately rejected the plan, describing it as “evidence of the dark colonial mentality of the rules in Israel and which ignores all United Nations resolutions, international law, and the signed agreements.”

It is unclear whether the deal provides 700 new homes for Palestinians or grants legal approval to 700 existing homes in a region of the West Bank known as “Area C.”

Area C makes up roughly 61% of the West Bank and is under Israel’s control.

The unexpected plan is likely tied to Jared Kushner’s upcoming visit to Israel as he continues to strive for a peace deal between the Arab nations.

The Background

The West Bank is a disputed territory that was annexed by Jordan following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The Oslo Accords, signed in the early 1990s by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel, granted varying levels of Palestinian autonomy within the region.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

Palestinians view the presence of Israeli settlements in the region as an obstacle to the creation of a future state consisting of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Israel has accused Palestinians of using the settlement issue to avoid peace talks and insists the settlements will not prevent a peace deal.

As it stands, the contested region is home to roughly 2.5 million Palestinians and 400,000 Jews.

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