By Ann Saphir
(Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wants to expand the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, and then name it after himself.
Republican President Donald Trump wants to end it altogether, and replace it with something that has yet to be defined.
An ongoing debate over which approach is better for the economy is partly about price tags. Bidencare is forecast to increase federal healthcare spending by $2 trillion or more over 10 years. Trump’s approach is to hold federal spending stable or reduce it.
Bidencare supporters emphasize the stimulative effects of government spending, especially in a period of economic distress, and the benefits of insuring more people in the middle of a pandemic. Those who prefer Trump’s approach say it would avoid debt or tax increases they say would drag on future economic growth.
The United States has about 30 million people without health insurance https://tmsnrt.rs/3mzqQxC now, down from about 46.5 million in 2010, when the ACA was passed.
Graphic – Under ACA, a drop in the number of uninsured: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ELECTION/ECONOMY-HEALTHCARE/rlgpdxbompo/chart.png
Bidencare would cut that figure by a further 15 million to 20 million, an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates. Trump isn’t expected to try to reduce that.
Healthcare spending is equal to 17% of the U.S. economy, far more than any other industrialized country, so the Trumpcare vs. Bidencare debate is no small economic matter. It’s further complicated by the fact that extra spending doesn’t translate to a healthier populace than other counties.
“Improving healthcare performance is a critical part of strengthening America’s health, economy and fiscal future, and should be top a priority for the next president and Congress,” says Peterson Foundation CEO Michael Peterson.
BIDENCARE FOCUSES ON LOWER-INCOME AMERICANS
Bidencare would cover more Americans by increasing subsidized health insurance purchases through tax credits.
It would also offer a “public option,” allowing anyone who wants it to buy in, even if their job offers private insurance. Lower-income families shut out of ACA’s expanded Medicaid eligibility because of where they live could get it premium-free.
Any boost to health and financial stability is likely to be biggest for millions of low-income households, particularly Latino and Black families who have been particularly hard-hit during the pandemic.
For these groups especially, says the University of Michigan School of Public Health’s Helen Levy, being able to accumulate assets “is really important if you think about supporting economic mobility.”
Minorities get and die from COVID-19 at higher rates than whites, data shows. Some of that is probably because Blacks and Latinos are more likely to work in jobs that put them at higher risk of transmission.
But even without COVID-19, minorities face higher rates of chronic disease and earlier death than whites. They also have lower rates of health insurance despite substantial gains since the advent of the ACA, a study by Kaiser Family Foundation shows.
Biden said he would pay for his plan through higher taxes on the wealthy, and use the clout of expanded public insurance to keep down medical costs.
Increasing the number of insured Americans could have positive economic consequences.
There’s evidence that the uninsured who do get sick get care in expensive settings like the emergency room, says UCLA public health policy professor Gerald Kominski. That takes a toll on their financial health and, when they can’t pay, strains the finances of hospitals that provide their care, with taxpayers footing part of that bill as well.
People in states where uninsured rates fell under Obamacare had fewer past-due debts, were less likely to use payday loans or file for bankruptcy, had better credit and were less likely to be evicted than those in states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility under the ACA.
“The whole reason people should get insurance, from an economist’s perspective, is to protect them against catastrophic losses,” says University of Minnesota professor Sayeh Nikpay.
TRUMPCARE LESS CLEAR, BUT CHEAPER
Trump tried and failed to get Congress to repeal the ACA in his first four-year term, and is likely to continue to it in some form during a second term.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a challenge to the law a week after Tuesday’s presidential election. A ruling to dismantle the ACA would put coverage of 21 million Americans in jeopardy, according to the Urban Institute, though most legal scholars don’t expect the court to do so.
If it does, Trump hasn’t specified a plan to replace it. One blueprint may be the Health Care Choices Proposal, put together by conservative health policy experts at the Galen Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
The plan would turn money now used for the ACA over to states to help people buy private health insurance and to provide coverage for low-income households.
An analysis by the right-leaning nonprofit think tank American Action Forum found the proposal would lower premiums by 18% to 24%. The number of uninsured would remain steady.
“The macroeconomic effects would be better than either current law or proposals to devote more public resources to the ACA,” says author Doug Badger. Reducing premiums, he said, would be the “best form of economic stimulus” because it would put money in the pockets of regular Americans.
That analysis is disputed.
Bidencare’s high price tag does worry Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Vice President William Hoagland, a former staffer to Republican lawmakers. But, he said, it’s worth paying for broader health insurance access, which he said would lead to a stronger economy.
“I’m going to come down on the side that a healthy country, and a reduction in chronic conditions, improves productivity, and improving productivity increases economic growth,” he said.
(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Heather Timmons and Jonathan Oatis)
China’s Li Sees Economy Returning to ‘Proper’ Range Next Year – Yahoo Canada Finance
The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Best Buy Co. reported fiscal third-quarter results that blew through analysts’ expectations as the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer enjoyed surging demand for items like home theatre and appliances that help people learn, cook, work and connect in their homes during the pandemic.
The Richfield, Minnesota-based retailer, said that third-quarter profits rose 33% while sales were up 21%. Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 23%, while online sales in the U.S. surged 174%.
Still, shares fell 5% in Tuesday morning trading as Best Buy warned that sales could slow down during the current quarter as the number of virus cases surge.
“As we start the fourth quarter, the demand for the products and services we sell remains at elevated levels, but similar to last quarter, it continues to be difficult for us to predict how sustainable these trends will be,” Matthew Bilunas, Best Buy’s chief financial officer, told analysts during the call. “In fact, we are seeing COVID cases surge throughout the U.S. and Canada at a time of significant holiday volume through our stores, online and supply chain. “
Bilunas also noted other factors such as potential government stimulus, the risk of continued high employment and the availability of inventory like computers to match customer demand.
Best Buy joins big box stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Lowe’s in reporting strong fiscal results. Unlike mall-based stores and other businesses that sell non-essentials, big box retailers were allowed to stay open during the lockdown in the spring and have all seen their dominance increase as consumers focus on necessities and home-related activities.
Before the pandemic, Best Buy had expanded its services to such options as at-home consulting and same-day delivery. It also sped up its online shipping. But the pandemic has forced Best Buy to adjust its operations and launch new shopping experiences that provide more convenience and safety for customers.
Early fall, Best Buy began using 250 of its stores as fast-shipping hubs for online orders. It’s now adding 90 more locations during the holiday period. It says its goal is to have all 340 stores ship more than 70% of its ship-from-store units during the holiday quarter. It’s also testing new store formats as it transforms locations to fulfilment hubs.
For example, in four Minneapolis locations, Best Buy reduced its square footage for shopping to 15,000 square feet from an average of 27,000. The product assortment on the sales floor will still include the primary categories these locations featured before the remodel, but instead the focus will be on the most popular items, the retailer said. The remodels will result in increased space for staging product for in-store pickup and to help ship-from-store transactions, as well as provide the ability to stage inventory for items that may not be on the sales floor.
Best Buy reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $391 million, or $1.48 per share, compared with $293 million, or $1.10 per share, in the year-ago period. Earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs and amortization costs, were $2.06 per share.
The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.76 per share.
The consumer electronics retailer posted revenue of $11.85 billion in the period, also beating Street forecasts. Eight analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $11.02 billion.
Shares fell $6.69 to $1150 in late morning trading. Shares have increased 39% since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 index has increased 11%. The stock has increased 69% in the last 12 months.
Elements of this story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on BBY at https://www.zacks.com/ap/BBY
Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press
German economy grew by 8.5% in third quarter, but recession fears grow – The Guardian
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s gross domestic product grew by a record 8.5% in the third quarter as Europe’s largest economy partly recovered from an unprecedented plunge caused by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring, the statistics office said on Tuesday.
The stronger-than expected rebound was mainly driven by higher household spending and soaring exports, the office said.
“This enabled the German economy to make up for a large part of the massive decline in gross domestic product caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the second quarter of 2020,” it added.
The reading marked an upward revision to an earlier flash estimate of 8.2% growth, and followed a 9.8% plunge in the second quarter.
The outlook is clouded by a second wave of coronavirus infections and a partial lockdown to slow the spread of the disease. Restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues have been closed since Nov. 2, but shops and schools remain open.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional state premiers are planning to extend the “lockdown-light” on Wednesday until Dec. 20, according to a draft prepared for their meeting.
A contraction in the service sector is expected to weigh heavily on gross domestic product in the fourth quarter, while lockdown measures in other countries are likely to hit export-oriented manufacturers as well.
DIW economist Claus Michelsen said a decline in economic output was therefore on the cards, with initial estimates indicating a GDP drop of around 1% in the final quarter.
“Germany and many important trading partners are likely to slide back into recession,” Michelsen said.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Rene Wagner; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and EKevin Liffey)
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