Our leaders were up late hashing out a version of the new financial reform bill and yes, apparently they have come to some agreement. But what’s in there? [More]
Banks and card issuers warned against the credit card reforms that went into effect a few months back, but so far it’s been a good thing for consumers, according to new delinquency numbers. [More]
Sue Lowden, a senate candidate in Nevada, says if you want to combat health care costs you should consider bartering with your doctor. In an appearance on a local political talk show yesterday, she clarified her proposal: [More]
In case you missed it, Senate Democrats managed to succeed at their goal of pushing through some sort of health care reform bill before Christmas Day–the chamber voted this morning 60-39 along party lines and passed the bill. Up next: the Senate and House have to get together and negotiate some final version. If you want to compare what’s in the House and Senate versions, the New York Times has put together an excellent side-by-side comparison tool.
Good news? Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that the recession is over, but that it won’t really stop the rise of unemployment — currently at a 26-year high of 9.7%.
American Express and Discover will no longer bill customers who exceed their credit limits, according to company spokespeople. The creditors aren’t eliminating the fees because they care about their customers. No, they’re providing what American Banker calls “the first concrete examples of how a new law will restrict issuers’ abilities to turn a profit.” The new CARD Act that Congress passed in May requires consumers to opt-in before they can exceed their credit limits. Since overlimit fees, which can reach $39, aren’t very profitable for creditors, they decided to ditch the fees altogether.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee just approved comprehensive food safety reform, setting it up for consideration on the House floor in the coming months. The Food Safety Enhancement Act was approved by voice vote, indicating bipartisan support and suggesting a relatively smooth passage through the entire House.
The LA Times is reporting that California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner will reveal new regulations aimed at stopping a controversial health insurance practice in which customers with costly illnesses are retroactively dropped.
Bob Sullivan at MSNBC—who coincidentally was one of the speakers at our event last night—has published a list of myths and facts about the new credit card bill. His article dispels some of the misinformation that’s out there right now about just what the act does, and what card companies are going to do in retaliation.
40% of Indiana’s mortgage brokers have lost their licenses because they did not comply with a new law aimed at “raising the standards” of the mortgage lending industry. The law requires mortgage brokerages to “name a principal broker with at least three years experience who has passed a state exam and will oversee his company’s business affairs,” says BusinessWeek. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke shared some thoughts on health care reform from “an economist’s perspective” today. He was short on proposals, but did suggest that we concentrate our attention on improving the cost-effectiveness of our health care system:
Nobody likes the compromise reached by Senators to reform the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Industry thinks the revised plan goes too far, while consumer groups want more. For now, the compromise would allow the CPSC to operate without a quorum, inject needed cash into the Commission, and provide for several other nifty provisions.
The general theme of the book “Overtreated,” the New York Times’ pick for best economics book of the year, is that we can cut a significant percentage of our health care costs—”between one fifth and one third,” says the author—and not have any impact on our level of health. As a nation, we tend to err on the side of too much treatment, exposing ourselves to unnecessary risks and racking up fees on procedures we could do without. And since doctors depend on a piecemeal approach to earning income, while at the same time dealing with significant financial risks from malpractice suits, they tend to push for more treatment, not less (they need to earn a living while also protecting themselves from accusations of doing too little).