How Space Tourists Will Benefit From No Government Regulation

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Source: TheDailyBell
March 30, 2017

Space tourism industry has a chance to show benefits of less regulation

If space truly is the final frontier, then it won’t be long until the first pioneers are making the journey, as several companies race to take paying passengers out of the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond. And true to form, right on its heels will be the regulators, red tape lassos in hand.

But like any brand new industry, the slight head start of the businesses will give them the opportunity to show the high standards that can be accomplished absent government control — and with any luck, they can do it in a way compelling enough to cast doubt on the “necessity” of regulation.

A March 20 article in Quartz about space tourism details the thus-far minimal regulatory burden on the burgeoning industry and questions how passengers will be protected without the “benefit” of tight regulations.

The first spaceflight participants will be guinea pigs in an experiment that asks: Just what does it mean to be safe in space when the government isn’t in charge?

The obvious answer, to those who believe in the power of market-driven incentives, is that space tourism will likely be safer with minimal government intervention than it would be with tight regulations and oversight, since the companies will police themselves, as Blue Origin Executive Erika Wagner says in the article.

Wagner recently told an audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘ . . . in terms of us having a safe place in the market, we take that seriously, we want to put our own families on board, we take that very seriously. So we are holding ourselves to internal standards.’

The case for strict government regulation is built on some faulty beliefs about humanity and behavior. It assumes that people in business are at their core unconcerned about other people and are motivated solely by profit. It assumes in contrast, that those people in government are the complete opposite, motivated only by altruism and never by self-interest. On this questionable foundation is built the assertion that the people in government must regulate the people in business so that the interests of customers and the public at large are protected.

It is easy enough to strike down these arguments. First, this stark divide between the values of businessmen and politicians does not exist. Good or bad personality traits can be found within any group, and I would argue that you’ll actually find disproportionately more politicians on the self-interested end of the spectrum than in other career paths, because politics either attracts or creates those kinds of people.

In any event, there is not a neutral ruling elite that can sit above the fray, benevolently handing down edicts to keep the otherwise-evil businesses in check. Politicians and regulatory agencies have a dog in the fight too, be it money, connections, political pressure, or desire for power.

But for argument’s sake, let’s assume the worst of businesses and the best of government. Even in this case, the goal for both parties is the same: safe space travel. At their most altruistic, regulators want it because they don’t want people to die. At their worst, space travel businesses want it because death and injury is bad for business.

Any company, whether they are building and flying rockets or simply selling sandwiches, needs to have customers to stay in business. Blue Origin, SpaceX, Boeing and Virgin Galactic — all companies planning to fly people out into space — won’t be able to keep customers if people aren’t flying back to Earth intact.

And unlike the mistakes of a sandwich shop, which might never make the front page news, in a pioneering industry like commercial space flight, you can bet every potential customer on earth would hear about the company’s missteps. As safety risks increase, customers will decrease, and if that balance gets out of whack, the company will fail.

Not all customers desire the same level of safety. And that’s OK. When regulations are minimal, companies can cater to whatever customer base they want. Riskier or more expensive products or services will  have a smaller customer base than those that are safer or cheaper.

Perhaps each space tourism company will use this formula to choose a different niche; companies could advertise that they tested their spacecraft the most, or offer the least expensive weightlessness experience, or orbit the earth the fastest.  In this way, less regulation gives the consumer more choices, while regulation would restrict some of these options, eliminating the preferences of some customers while simultaneously crippling those niche businesses.

“Minimal” Regulation

What does “minimal” regulation look like in the space tourism industry? Right now, it’s governed by the Commercial Space Act, which establishes the Secretary of Transportation as the governing authority. The Secretary has the power to grant launch licenses to rockets, which can include requirements on crew training and medical standards.

The license holder must inform crew and passengers in writing about the risks involved in space travel, and let them know that the United States Government has not certified the launch vehicle as safe for carrying crew or space flight participants. The Secretary can also restrict rocket design features or operating practices that have resulted in serious or fatal injury or a high risk thereof.

By many standards, that amount of regulation is already too much. It’s not that these rules are especially onerous or illogical; it’s just that they are unnecessary. Crew members and paying customers are voluntarily participating in space flight — a non-essential service, moreover — through the company. Therefore, customers and employees should work directly with the company to ensure a satisfactory experience. The company can then meet those demands or lose those customers and workers. They can cut out the middleman of regulation because there is no one to protect; all parties are already satisfied, and customers are signing up in droves. According to the article, Virgin Galactic has accrued 700 paid passengers since 2005.

The article cites Uber as a close example of how the space travel industry could expect to pave its own way:

Because the slate is still blank for how the federal government will treat the space business, the earliest companies will be in a position to set the tone, much as Uber’s regulatory battles laid the groundwork for the still tetchy relationship between cities and ride-hailing apps.

This is a fitting analogy, but frustrating if space tourism goes the way of ride-hailing apps. Because Uber and others like it are another example of a business in which regulators tried to fix problems that didn’t exist. Everyone involved was already happy. And yet because of pressure from the highly-regulated taxi companies, politicians implemented regulations to handcuff ride-sharing companies as well, under the guise of consumer protection.

In my home state of Massachusetts, for example, a bill regulating ride-sharing companies required Uber drivers to complete a two-part background check, carry insurance coverage of at least $1 million, and have their vehicles get a second safety inspection in addition to the annual inspection required of all registered cars. And—perhaps the biggest affront— the law required the companies to pay 20 cents per ride to the state, which will fund public transportation, including the taxi industry. The bill was signed into law last August, adding Massachusetts to the long list of states that punish and restrict the ride-sharing app companies while buoying their competitors.

Yet Uber and other ride-sharing app companies have largely survived the onslaught of regulations because the service they offer is so attractive, not only from a practical standpoint, but also a symbolic one. It gives both customers and drivers freedom and self-determination, the ability to set their own hours, choose their own route.

And that’s just ground transportation. It’s hard to imagine a more freeing experience than blasting off in a rocket to outer space, quite literally extricating oneself from earthly cares. So while we will likely see a shorter leash on space tourism companies as the industry matures and regulators catch up, these pioneering companies have a chance to demonstrate that they can be self policing. They can prove that private industry can safely, astonishingly, and beautifully launch people into the final frontier — and bring them home again.

Read More At: TheDailyBell.com

When the “Solutions” Become the Problems

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Source: OfTwoMinds.com
Charles Hugh Smith
March 28, 2017

Those benefiting from these destructive “solutions” may think the system can go on forever, but it cannot go on when every “solution” becomes a self-reinforcing problem that amplifies all the other systemic problems.

We are living in an interesting but by no means unique dynamic in which the solutions to problems such as slow growth and inequality have become the problems. This is a dynamic I have often discussed in various contexts. In essence, a solution that was optimized for an earlier era and situation is repeatedly applied to the present–but the present is unlike the past, and the old solution is no longer optimized to current conditions.

The old solution isn’t just a less-than-optimal solution; it actively makes the problem worse.

As a result, the old solution becomes a new problem that only exacerbates the current difficulties. The status quo strategy is not to question the efficacy of the old solution–it is to apply the old solution in heavier and heavier doses, on the theory that if only we increase the dose, it will finally resolve the problem.

Take borrowing from the future, i.e. debt, as a prime example of this dynamic. Back when credit was scarce and expensive, unleashing a tsunami of cheap, abundant credit supercharged growth by enabling millions of people who previously had limited access to credit to suddenly borrow and spend enormous sums of cash.

This tsunami of new spending supercharged growth such that servicing the debt was easy, as incomes and wealth both expanded far beyond the cost of the new debt.

Fast-forward to today, and adding 50% of the nation’s GDP in new federal debt ($9 trillion) and trillions more in corporate and houshold debt in the past 8 years has yielded subpar growth–roughly 2% a year.

This poor response to massive floods of credit, borrowing and spending has flummoxed conventional economists, who incorrectly assumed old solutions would always work as they had in the past.

In a similar fashion, conventional economists expected fiscal stimulus to boost growth. Fiscal stimulus–one-time tax refunds, infrastructure spending, tax cuts and various forms of “helicopter money”–central banks creating money out of thin air for the government to spend or distribute–have all failed to generate the self-sustaining virtuous cycle of boosting the output of the engines of income/wealth creation.

As I noted in Fragmentation and the De-Optimization of Centralization (January 2, 2017), The 4th Industrial Revolution has de-optimized centralization. Centralized control, power and money are now the problem, not the solution.

In the past, centralizing control of industries, credit and production increased the productivity of the whole economy. But that was then, and this is now. In the current era, centralization only breeds corruption, moral hazard, revolving doors between state agencies and private industry, opaque, rigged markets, rentier cartel parasitism and state-cartel crony capitalism, in which the central state regulates industries like Big Pharma, defense weaponry, higher education and so on to benefit entrenched interests, elites and cartels.

Regulations have also slipped from being solutions to problems. Everyone weighing the costs and benefits agrees that building and zoning codes enacted at the turn of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century greatly reduced the health hazards posed by slums and unregulated industries. Everyone weighing the costs and benefits agrees that clean air and water regulations imposed in the early 1970s benefited the public and the nation, despite the higher costs for goods and services that industry passed down to the consumer.

Technological improvements and efficiencies offset much or all of these costs by the 1980s, and by the 1990s, technological gains were increasing the income and wealth of almost every participant in the economy.

Recently, these technological gains have become concentrated in the top 5% of wage-earners and the owners of the capital. There are several drivers for this, including proximity to cheap credit, tax evasion techniques available only to corporations and the wealthy, pay-to-play lobbying for tax breaks and regulatory barriers to competition, and so on–all the foul fruits of centralized power and the crony-capitalism it breeds.

But technology is also exacerbating the trend to a winner-take-all or winners-take-most asymmetry between the most profitable and productive and “everyone else.”

Regulations have now become burdens rather than low-cost means of improving the commons shared by all. Advocates for “tiny houses” and similar solutions to homelessness run into buzz-saws of regulations that prohibit such construction and zoning, and advocates of innovations from urban farming to crypto-currencies find regulations (often serving the interests of political donors rather than the public) are stifling innovations and efficiencies that would benefit the many rather than the few.

The regulatory agencies are prone to self-serving complexity that justified their budgets and power; as the regulations become more voluminous and arcane, “experts” in reading the runes and keeping up to date justify their big salaries and departmental budget.

The Lifecycle of Bureaucracy (December 2, 2010)

As I explain in my book Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change, the state only knows how to expand; there is no mechanism, no institutional memory and no reward motivation to reduce the size of state power or revenues, or reduce the reach of the regulations and laws that empower the state to control virtually every aspect of life.

There are many other “solutions” that no longer solve their intended target problem but have become burdensome problems in themselves. One need only look at healthcare, higher education and weaponry acquisition programs to find hundreds of examples of perverse incentives and unintended consequences that are the direct result of anti-competitive, intentionally opaque, centralized regulations that are implicitly designed to benefit the few (wealthy political donors, lobbyists and entrenched interests) at the expense of the many who are shut out of the regulatory game.

Student loans are an excellent example of a “solution” becoming a problem itself, while the underlying problem–soaring costs for diminishing-return diplomas–rages on, enabled by the “solution”: force student debt-serfs to borrow another trillion dollars to fund sclerotic, self-serving bloated bureaucracies.

The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy: The Revolution in Higher Education.

Borrowing and spending $9 trillion did little but indenture future taxpayers to pay for for our massive malinvestment in diminishing-returns dead-ends.

Continue Reading More At: OfTwoMinds.com

The Divided Deep State is a Symptom, Not the Disease

TheDeepState2
Source: OfTwoMinds.com
Charles Hugh Smith
March 23, 2017

If we understand the profound political disunity fracturing the nation and its Imperial Project, we understand the Deep State must also fracture along the same fault lines.

I’ve been writing about the divided Deep State for a number of years, most recently in The Conflict within the Deep State Just Broke into Open Warfare. The topic appears to be one of widespread interest, as this essay drew over 300,000 views.

It’s impossible to understand the divided Deep State unless we situate it in the larger context of profound political disunity, a concept I learned from historian Michael Grant, whose slim but insightful volume The Fall of the Roman Empire I have been recommending since 2009.

As I noted in my 2009 book Survival+, this was a key feature of the Roman Empire in its final slide to collapse. The shared values and consensus which had held the Empire’s core together dissolved, leaving petty fiefdoms to war among themselves for what power and swag remained.

A funny thing happens when a nation allows itself to be ruled by Imperial kleptocrats: such rule is intrinsically destabilizing, as there is no longer any moral or political center to bind the nation together. The public sees the value system at the top is maximize my personal profit by whatever means are available, i.e. complicity, corruption, monopoly and rentier rackets, and they follow suit by pursuing whatever petty frauds and rackets are within reach: tax avoidance, cheating on entrance exams, gaming the disability system, lying on mortgage and job applications, and so on.

But the scope of the rentier rackets is so large, the bottom 95% cannot possibly keep up with the expanding wealth and income of the top .1% and their army of technocrats and enablers, so a rising sense of injustice widens the already yawning fissures in the body politic.

Meanwhile, diverting the national income into a few power centers is also destabilizing, as Central Planning and Market Manipulation (a.k.a. the Federal Reserve) are intrinsically unstable as price can no longer be discovered by unfettered markets. As a result, imbalances grow until some seemingly tiny incident or disruption triggers a cascading collapse, a.k.a. a phase shift or system re-set.

As the Power Elites squabble over the dwindling crumbs left by the various rentier rackets, there’s no one left to fight for the national interest because the entire Status Quo of self-interested fiefdoms and cartels has been co-opted and is now wedded to the Imperial Oligarchy as their guarantor of financial security.

The divided Deep State is a symptom of this larger systemic political disunity. I have characterized the divide as between the Wall Street-Neocon-Globalist Neoliberal camp–currently the dominant public face of the Deep State, the one desperately attempting to exploit the “Russia hacked our elections and is trying to destroy us” narrative–and a much less public, less organized “rogue Progressive” camp, largely based in the military services and fringes of the Deep State, that sees the dangers of a runaway expansionist Empire and the resulting decay of the nation’s moral/political center.

What few observers seem to understand is that concentrating power in centralized nodes is intrinsically unstable. Contrast a system in which power, control and wealth is extremely concentrated in a few nodes (the current U.S. Imperial Project) and a decentralized network of numerous dynamic nodes.

The disruption of any of the few centralized nodes quickly destabilizes the entire system because each centralized node is highly dependent on the others. This in effect what happened in the 2008-09 Financial Meltdown: the Wall Street node failed and that quickly imperiled the entire economy and thus the entire political order, up to and including the Global Imperial Project.

Historian Peter Turchin has proposed that the dynamics of profound political disunity (i.e. social, financial and political disintegration) can be quantified in a Political Stress Index, a concept he describes in his new book Ages of Discord.

If we understand the profound political disunity fracturing the nation and its Imperial Project, we understand the Deep State must also fracture along the same fault lines. There is no other possible output of a system of highly concentrated nodes of power, wealth and control and the competing rentier rackets of these dependent, increasingly fragile centralized nodes.

Of related interest:

Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)

Read More At: OfTwoMinds.com

 

A new kind of doctor’s office charges a monthly fee and doesn’t take insurance – and it could be the future of medicine

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Source: BusinessInsider.com
March 19, 2017

Dr. Bryan Hill spent his career working as a pediatrician, teaching at a university, and working at a hospital. But in March 2016, he decided he no longer wanted a boss.

He took some time off, then one day he got a call asking if he’d be up for doing a house call for a woman whose son was sick. He agreed, and by the end of that visit, he realized he wanted to treat patients without dealing with any of the insurance requirements.

Then he learned about a totally different way to run a doctor’s office. It’s called direct primary care, and it works like this: Instead of accepting insurance for routine visits and drugs, these practices charge a monthly membership fee that covers most of what the average patient needs, including visits and drugs at much lower prices.

That sounded good to him. In September, Hill opened his direct-primary-care pediatrics practice, Gold Standard Pediatrics, in South Carolina.

Hill is part of a small but fast-growing movement of pediatricians, family-medicine physicians, and internists who are opting for this different model. It’s happening at a time when high-deductible health plans are on the rise – a survey in September found that 51% of workers had a plan that required them to pay up to $1,000 out of pocket for healthcare until insurance picks up most of the rest.

That means consumers have a clearer picture of how much they’re spending on healthcare and are having to pay more. At the same time, primary-care doctors in the traditional system are feeling the pressure under the typical fee-for-service model in which doctors are incentivized to see more patients for less time to maximize profits.

Direct primary care has the potential to simplify basic doctor visits, allowing a doctor to focus solely on the patient. But there are also concerns about the effect that separating insurance from primary care could have on the rest of the healthcare system – that and doctors often have to accept lower pay in exchange for less stress.

How direct primary care works

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Courtesy Lauren Clark

Dustin and Lauren Clark, who operate Black Bag Family Healthcare.

For Brent Long and his family, paying for healthcare is now like paying a cellphone bill. Since they joined Black Bag Family Healthcare in Johnson City, Tennessee, about two years ago, the family has paid about $150 a month to belong to the practice.

Long joined around the time he was shifting his insurance to a high-deductible health plan. There were two reasons he decided to switch and start paying for all six members of his family to get direct primary care: the cost-effectiveness of not having to deal with copays or urgent-care visits, and the fact that it could easily fit his family’s busy lifestyle that doesn’t jibe with spending hours in waiting rooms.

Included in that monthly fee are basic checkups, same-day or next-day appointments, and – a big boon to patients – the ability to obtain medications and lab tests at or near wholesale prices.

Direct primary care also comes with near-constant access to a doctor – talking via FaceTime while the family is on vacation, or taking an emergency trip to the office to get stitches after a bad fall on a Saturday night. Because direct primary care doesn’t take insurance, there are no copays and no costs beyond the monthly fee.

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Skye Gould/Business Insider

When Blythe Fortin went in for a recent visit at sparkMD, a direct-primary-care practice in Boise, Idaho, Dr. Julie Gunther spent an hour chatting with her before getting to the results of her blood test, which showed elevated blood-sugar levels.

“She listened when I said I can manage with diet,” rather than starting her on medication, Fortin said.

Fortin, who pays $60 a month for sparkMD, had used a different kind of subscription healthcare called concierge medicine. It has some similarities to direct primary care but often costs thousands per month and still incorporates health insurance. She says she prefers direct primary care because the quality of care she has received is better than concierge medicine, and she likes that it’s available to a wider base of patients.

At the 17 direct-primary-care practices Business Insider spoke with, the percentage of members who still had insurance varied. At some practices, all but a handful had some form of insurance, while at others a little more than half didn’t have insurance.

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Courtesy of Dr. Julie Gunther

Dr. Julie Gunther of sparkMD with one of her newest patients.

To describe how coverage functions under direct primary care, doctors use the example of car insurance: You don’t use your car insurance for small transactions like oil changes, but it’s there for you if you get in a car accident. Likewise, health-insurance plans – especially those with high deductibles – can be there if you require healthcare beyond primary care.

For those who have insurance, the choice to pay for both makes financial sense, even if they can’t use it at their doctor’s office.

Fran Ciarlo has coverage through Medicare but decided to pay for sparkMD as well. One of the ways she’s seen an advantage is in prescriptions – like many direct-primary-care practices, sparkMD can provide prescriptions at wholesale prices, adding a 10% fee. On a recent visit, Ciarlo estimated she had saved at least $100 on prescriptions for standard steroids and antibiotics that in total cost her $6.

And for those with high health-insurance costs, it’s occasionally a choice between paying a monthly premium or the monthly membership fee for a direct-primary-care practice. For Rebekah Bennett, paying for direct primary care at sparkMD made more sense for her and her children than opting for insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, since for roughly the same cost, if not less, her family could see their doctor without any copays.

The history of the direct-primary-care movement

Philip Eskew, who has tracked the movement through his website, Direct Primary Care Frontier, said direct primary care began at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s. Around that time, three doctors had the idea to go insurance-free, charging monthly fees instead and freeing up time to enjoy practicing medicine. This way, patients who might not have insurance could have a clear idea of how much going to the doctor would cost.

One of the three founded Qliance, a direct-primary-care system based in Washington state that got its start in 2007. The company was backed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Dell founder Michael Dell before the company leadership bought it to run it privately, without investor pressure. Qliance now has about 25,000 members visiting a handful of clinics around Puget Sound.

Cofounder Dr. Erika Bliss sees this movement growing in the future from its grass roots, rather than becoming big and national.

“It keeps the resolve and the drive toward independent primary care,” she said, which she described as a critical element. She says she envisions independent practices with maybe 10 to 20 providers at three to five locations being about as big as they’d get.

Getting off the ground

Dr. Matthew Abinante opened his practice in Huntington Beach, California, in September. Since then, he has had two people call his office to find out more about his practice. When he explained the system, he said, the callers thought it had to be a scam.

It’s one of the biggest hurdles doctors face when starting direct primary care – the “too good to be true” factor, the learning curve that comes with the understanding that “No, you won’t be using insurance here.” Even so, Abinante has signed up about 150 patients.

Going into direct primary care often means ditching the reliability of a salary. Because the practice relies on membership fees, the more patients who sign on, the more money that can be made. Practices cap their number of patients at anywhere from 300 to 1,000.

And it’s not exactly cheap to get started. Dr. Vance Lassey, who runs Holton Direct Care in Holton, Kansas, took out a loan to start his practice and spent time renovating a 750-square-foot space he rented from a friend at an industrial park. He picked up a lot of old equipment from a nearby nonprofit hospital and surplus stores. For his in-house pharmacy, Lassey took mismatched cabinets and refinished them so they matched.

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Courtesy Dr. Vance Lassey

Dr. Vance Lassey in front of the pharmacy cabinets he built from a mismatched set.

Keeping his costs low helped Lassey break even within four months of opening his practice. Still, he’s not earning as much as he used to when he worked at a hospital and had only five to 10 minutes with a patient – a lot less time than he gets to spend with his patients now.

“I am making a profit, I have more free time, and I can practice properly,” he said. “It’s worth it to me.”

Others, like Dr. M. Chad Williamson in Fort Payne, Alabama, went upscale – he offers his patients a 24-hour gym as part of his practice’s $60 monthly membership fee. Williamson, who opened his practice in August, a few months after finishing his residency, currently has 215 members. He wants to bring that up to between 600 and 1,000 people, ideally.

And it’s not just building the office space – direct-primary-care doctors are also responsible for building referral relationships with other doctors in the area.

What’s holding direct primary care back

While doctors and patients using direct primary care might praise the model – it was hard to get anybody to suggest a group, geographic or otherwise, that they thought wouldn’t benefit from direct primary care – not everyone is sold just yet.

Carolyn Long Engelhard, a public-health expert and professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, broke down the main concerns with direct primary care:

  • It might give the false impression that it’s a kind of insurance, so people might not opt to also get a real insurance plan. But if a patient were to have a health issue outside the scope of primary care, they wouldn’t be protected financially. All the providers Business Insider spoke with said they recommended patients have some form of insurance, and there were many instances where most patients in a practice had insurance or took part in a healthcare sharing plan, a program that functions like insurance in which an amount is sent monthly to people who have medical expenses in the plan.
  • Because doctors at direct-primary-care practices take on fewer patients than doctors at traditional primary-care practices, it might add to the caseloads of primary-care doctors. There is a shortage of these doctors in the US, partly because many choose to go into specialty medicine. Some doctors, on the other hand, say that they would have considered leaving medicine outright if they hadn’t had the option to do direct primary care. “There are doctor shortages already, so I say, ‘Compared to what?'” Dr. Chad Savage, who runs YourChoice Direct Care in Brighton, Michigan, told Business Insider.
  • Direct-primary-care physicians could become isolated from other doctors, and because the only person the direct-primary-care doctor has to answer to is the patient, there are fewer insurance regulations in place, potentially putting patients at risk. This is one of the reasons that getting hard data on how direct primary care compares with traditional practices is difficult. But between direct-primary-care networks and the referral relationships doctors build in their communities, there might not be so much isolation from the rest of the system. Dr. Deborah Moore of AmarilloMD in Amarillo, Texas, said she has more time now to do research than she did when she worked at a clinic. “I can do what I really need to be doing,” she said.

Engelhard worries about the direct-primary-care model becoming the norm. Generally, she said, “I do think it has a place in our healthcare system.” Instead, though, she’d like to see more adoption of the “patient-centered medical home,” a model in which primary care is more of a team effort.

Medical organizations have had mixed reactions to the movement as well. The American Academy of Family Physicians supports it, while the American College of Physicians, which represents internal-medicine doctors, has chosen not to take a stance on direct primary care.

There are also logistical hurdles that present challenges. For example, Eskew said that in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, having a health savings account is illegal if you’re a member of a direct-primary-care practice. The IRS views the monthly fees as insurance payments, making the person ineligible for an HSA, he said. Patients also can’t use the funds from an HSA, flexible savings account, or Medicare savings account to pay their monthly membership bills.

But politicians have shown support for the business model. Libertarians see direct primary care as a free-market solution to healthcare, and legislation at the state level has gained support from Democrats and Republicans alike. And direct primary care is on the radar of Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who while he was a member of Congress introduced a plan that would allow HSA funds to pay for direct primary care.

“Whoever is in power tries to take credit,” Eskew said. The ACA contains a paragraph about direct primary care that allows for the business model. It’s unclear what would happen to direct primary care under the American Health Care Act, the proposed bill to replace the ACA.

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Courtesy of Dr. J. Bryan Hill

Hill with a patient.

Where does direct primary care go from here?

As one of the first pediatricians to go into direct primary care, Hill has had the additional challenge of figuring out how the service works with children. Unlike many direct-primary-care physicians, he offers one-time visits to nonmembers. He said he also spends a lot of time listening to what parents want and sets his prices accordingly, offering discounts to families with three or more kids.

Doctors who are part of the movement tend to be the first in their area to have a direct-primary-care practice, and patients the first of their friends to use direct primary care. But all said they had positive experiences with the model.

“This is a niche, but a niche that makes sense,” Long said.

If direct primary care continues to gain traction, it could lead to new kinds of insurance plans – ones that don’t necessarily factor in primary care. Already, patients with high-deductible healthcare plans are using this. But direct-primary-care doctors also said they’d prefer to recommend catastrophic health insurance plans, which have deductibles as much as $10,000 or $30,000 and aren’t allowed under the ACA.

Even with the growth in the last few years, Bliss said the market is still slow, and a lot of unknowns would come with the AHCA should it become law. And it will be hard to get fully insured employers to use it in the same way self-insured employers and unions have picked it up.

Either way, those in direct primary care are optimistic about the movement’s future.

“In 10 years, we’re going to be an overnight success,” Eskew said jokingly.

Read More At: BusinessInsider.com

Catherine Austin Fitts – Covers Politics, Pedophelia, Food price, The Bond Bull Market, Factional Infighting, & More

Source: USAWatchDog.com
Greg Hunter
March 12, 2017

One of the big headwinds for Trump is the bond market and rising interest rates. Financial advisor Catherine Austin Fitts contends, “The long term bull market in bonds is at an end, and rates are going to rise and continue to rise as they should. Savers, pension funds and insurance companies are not getting a return on their capital. To me, this is a welcome. If you are holding a big bond portfolio, they are going to be down, but interest rates are going to rise and the party is over. We have a President who understands the cost of capital and is screaming that it is no longer zero. To a certain extent, you are watching all of Washington blame Trump for the end of the debt birth model. It’s not his fault. He’s just trying to get the culture to switch to reflect something to where the future is going.”

Fitts, who has managed hundreds of billions of dollars of assets as Assistant Secretary of Housing in the Bush Administration (41), says the stock market could blow up to a “Dow of 30,000 or crash down to 10,000.” Fitts tells all her clients to hedge for any scenario and “hold a core position in gold.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Catherine Austin Fitts, Publisher of The Solari Report.

News & Views From The Nefarium – Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Speaks On The Fallout From #Brexit, Nuclear Weapons & Germany, France & More

Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell
March 9, 2017

Fallout (and I mean that literally) from the BREXIT: a common nuclear deterrent for the European Union?

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/06…

Smart Meters Can Overbill By Up To 582 Percent Higher Than Actual Consumption, Study Reveals


Source: ActivistPost.com
Catherine Frompovich
March 7, 2017

March 3, 2017, Science Daily reported about overcharges new electronic ‘energy meters’—aka “smart meters”—are capable of pulling off due to false readings, as per a report of what’s been happening in Dutch households in The Netherlands.

The study was undertaken at the University of Twente (UT) in collaboration with the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS).  Due to rumors of overwhelming overbillings, Professor Frank Leferink of UT investigated electronic meters to determine if they, in fact, can give false readings.

Together with co-workers Cees Keyer and Anton Melentjev from AUAS, he tested nine different electronic meters in this study. The meters in question were manufactured between 2004 and 2014. The meters were connected, via an electric switchboard, to a range of power-consuming appliances, such as energy saving light bulbs, heaters, LED bulbs and dimmers. The researchers then compared the actual consumption of the system with the electronic energy meter’s readings.  [1]

So what were the findings?

  • Five of the nine meters gave readings much higher than actual usage!
  • Two of the meters gave readings that were 30 percent lower than actual usage!
  • Overall, in some of the setups there was a 582 percent higher reading than consumption!

Those study findings parallel what smart meter consumers in the USA have complained about since the retrofit of AMI Smart Meters, only to be blown away by utilities and public utility commissions as “not so!”

What was the explanation for the false readings?   According to Science Daily:

The inaccurate readings are attributed to the energy meter’s design, together with the increasing use of modern (often energy-efficient) switching devices. Here, the electricity being consumed no longer has a perfect waveform, instead it acquires an erratic pattern. The designers of modern energy meters have not made sufficient allowance for switching devices of this kind.

When they dismantled the energy meters tested, the researchers found that the ones associated with excessively high readings contained a ‘Rogowski Coil’ while those associated with excessively low readings contained a ‘Hall Sensor’. Frank Leferink (Professor of Electromagnetic Compatibility at the UT) points out that “The energy meters we tested meet all the legal requirements and are certified. These requirements, however, have not made sufficient allowance for modern switching devices.” [1]   [CJF emphasis]As late as August of 2016, Natural News was reporting utility customers in New York State were reporting to the New York State Public Service Commission digital utility meters, aka smart meters, being installed were manufactured in China “without any UL certification or testing for ‘microwave radiation emissions, electrical and fire code compliance or privacy and security risks’.” [2]

What are consumers to do if they suspect their AMI Smart Meters are overbilling?

Any consumers who do not trust their energy meter can have it tested by an ‘Accredited inspection company’.

However, if this inspection shows that the meter is functioning properly, then the consumer will have to cover the costs involved. Yet the standardized test does not make allowance for waveform-contaminating power-consuming appliances. As a result, according to the researchers, it is an unsuitable method for detecting false meter readings. Prof. Leferink and Mr Keyer advise any consumers who doubt their meter readings to contact their supplier, who then will pass the complaint on to the power grid operator. [1] [CJF emphasis]

The above advice apparently applies to Dutch consumers in The Netherlands.  In the USA, from what I’ve heard, it’s a totally different story.   Utility customers who complained to their utility company, in most cases, were told the meters were operating correctly and “you owed the bill, so pay up.”

However, I think the better way to fight ‘city hall’ is to document electric power usage every way you can, e.g.,

  1. Chart monthly use. Refer to previous months/years utility billings, which usually have charts showing actual usage for 12 or 13 months.
  2. Document the brand, type, quantity and watts of light bulbs used.
  3. Document the brand and type of all electrical appliances. Refer to factory users’ manuals for information regarding usage that may be helpful.
  4. Learn how to read and record digital meter readings and keep a log – daily readings if need be – to prove your point.
  5. Document clock times someone is at home; at work; special appliance usage: dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer; and try to keep to a routine schedule so there is a pattern of use established either daily or weekly that can be factored into the consumption equation.

Personally, I’ve heard of utility customers receiving utility bills in the thousands of dollars after a smart meter retrofit, whereas with their former analog meter, their monthly billings averaged within a few dollars of a certain amount each month.  Then, I’ve heard of customers receiving no bills but, instead, notices indicating their electric power and service were to be turned off for non-payment.

The problem, as I see it, is that AMI Smart Meters are computers with microwave technology operating systems, tracking devices and two-way radio transmitters called ZigBee, and built with cheap plastic parts and no surge arresters [A surge arrester is a device to protect electrical equipment from over-voltage transients caused by external (lightning) or internal (switching) events. Wikipedia].  Need I say more?  However, such combinations almost guarantee Murphy’s Law has to prevail.


We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years.

It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries.

David Rockefeller, 1991 Bilderberg Meeting, Baden, Germany

Read More At: ActivistPost.com

References:

[1] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170303180139.htm
[2] http://www.naturalnews.com/054839_smart_meters_health_effects_New_York.html

Catherine J Frompovich (website) is a retired natural nutritionist who earned advanced degrees in Nutrition and Holistic Health Sciences, Certification in Orthomolecular Theory and Practice plus Paralegal Studies. Her work has been published in national and airline magazines since the early 1980s. Catherine authored numerous books on health issues along with co-authoring papers and monographs with physicians, nurses, and holistic healthcare professionals. She has been a consumer healthcare researcher 35 years and counting.

Catherine’s latest book, published October 4, 2013, is Vaccination Voodoo, What YOU Don’t Know About Vaccines, available on Amazon.com.

Her 2012 book A Cancer Answer, Holistic BREAST Cancer Management, A Guide to Effective & Non-Toxic Treatments, is available on Amazon.com and as a Kindle eBook.

Two of Catherine’s more recent books on Amazon.com are Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking Of Our DNA, A Probe Into What’s Probably Making Us Sick (2009) and Lord, How Can I Make It Through Grieving My Loss, An Inspirational Guide Through the Grieving Process (2008)

Catherine’s NEW book: Eat To Beat Disease, Foods Medicinal Qualities ©2016 Catherine J Frompovich is now available