Business & Economy
Morthland Proposes Sales Tax Exemptions for IL Farmers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Rich Morthland   
Monday, 03 October 2011 14:28

Moline, IL...State Representative Rich Morthland (R-Cordova) has filed legislation offering sales tax exemptions for Illinois farmers. House Bill 3817 exempts the sales tax imposed on fence posts, fencing, and farm gates. House Bill 3818 exempts the sale tax imposed on baling twine, baling wire, plastic bags, plastic sleeves, and plastic sheeting

Representative Morthland, a seventh generation Illinois farmer, explained that farmers cross the Mississippi River to Iowa to make agricultural supply purchases because Iowa has a more favorable tax structure.

"Every time a farmer crosses the river to buy agricultural products, the State of Illinois loses employment potential and revenue opportunities on all of the purchases made that currently do not qualify for the sales tax exemption," Morthland said.

Morthland's legislation requires that the purchaser certifies the items will be used for farm production.

"Sales taxes on agricultural production goods act like a cumulative value added tax which, incidentally, Illinois rejected under Rod Blagojevich," Morthland said. "Some people will look at this like, 'it's just fence materials and twine,' but to the Illinois farmer who buys in bulk, these taxes can be burdensome."


Baucus, Grassley Uncover Gaming of the Medicare System by For-PROFIT Home Health Companies PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 03 October 2011 14:11
Finance Senators Release Report Showing Companies Intentionally Increased Frequency of Home Health Visits to Manipulate Reimbursement Rates

Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and senior Finance Committee Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today released a Finance Committee staff report showing tactics used by major for-profit home health companies to game Medicare.  The result has been waste of taxpayer dollars and the delivery of what could be medically-unnecessary patient care to increase the companies’ profits.  Baucus and Grassley initiated the investigation into the improper practices as part of the Committee’s oversight role of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and the Senators’ ongoing commitment to protect patients and taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse.

“The gaming of Medicare represents serious abuse of the home health program,” said Baucus.  “Elderly patients in the Medicare system should not be used as pawns to increase a company’s profits. Especially in these tough economic times, taxpayers simply cannot afford for their dollars to be wasted on unnecessary care.  We are going to continue to crack down on these companies to ensure taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and Medicare patients are protected.”

“The reimbursement policy encourages gaming, and gaming is what’s occurred.   Companies are doing everything they can to make as much money as possible, whether the patients need the care or not.  The federal government needs to fix the policy that lets Medicare money flow down the drain.  This can’t wait until tomorrow.  It should have been done yesterday.  The longer this kind of policy continues, the more Medicare’s budget balloons, and the bigger the burden on taxpayers,” Grassley said.

In May 2010, Baucus and Grassley began their investigation into home health therapy practices at Amedisys, LHC Group, Gentiva, and Almost Family in response to a media report that these home health companies took advantage of the Medicare therapy payment system by providing medically-unnecessary patient care.

The Committee staff report released today examines documents provided by the companies which show how therapists were encouraged to target the most profitable number of therapy visits, even when patient need may not have required such visits.  In addition, therapy visit records for each company showed concentrated numbers of therapy visits at or just above the point at which a “bonus” payment was triggered by the Medicare program.

Internal documents from three of the four companies, Amedisys, LHC Group and Gentiva, provided evidence of top-down strategies to game Medicare.  Highlights from the report include:

  • Managers encouraged therapists to meet a 10-visit target that would have increased their payments from Medicare.
  • An “A-Team” tasked with developing programs to target the most profitable Medicare therapy treatment patterns.
  • Therapists and regional managers that were pressured to follow new clinical guidelines developed to maximize Medicare reimbursements.
  • Top managers instructed employees to increase the number of therapy visits provided in order to increase case mix and revenue.
  • A competitive ranking system for management aimed at driving therapy visit patterns toward profitable levels.
  • Evidence that management discussed increasing therapy visits and expanding specialty programs to increase revenue.

The Medicare Part A program pays out an estimated $19 billion yearly for home health care.  Fraud, waste and abuse in the health care system cost Americans an estimated $60 billion a year, approximately three percent of total health care spending.

Baucus and Grassley have led numerous major investigations of the health care industry to protect consumers and taxpayer dollars.  Earlier this year, when their investigation found that the drug company Sanofi interfered in the approval of generic alternatives to its blood-thinner drug Lovenox, the Finance leaders called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help guarantee consumers have access to affordable generic medications.  Last December, Baucus and Grassley released a report detailing the relationship between Abbott labs and a Maryland doctor who allegedly implanted nearly 600 unnecessary cardiac stents into his patients, costing the federal government as much as $3.8 million in overpayments.  The specific stent case highlighted in the Senators’ report is indicative of a widespread, national problem of unnecessary stenting.  The Senators also spearheaded a two year inquiry which revealed undisclosed side effects of the diabetes drug Avandia.  This resulted in the FDA restricting use of the drug, ensuring that patients and doctors have the information they need to make safe, informed decisions about their medication.

The Committee’s full report is available here.


Morthland's Gas Tax Report Released PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Rich Morthland   
Monday, 03 October 2011 14:08

Moline, IL...State Representative Rich Morthland's (R-Cordova) House Resolution 328 directed the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability to conduct an objective, non-political examination of the State's policy of charging "ad valorem" Illinois sales taxes on motor fuel. This report revealed various factors contributing to the price of gas sold in Illinois.

"Our gasoline sales tax of 6.25% makes Illinois the 3rd highest total tax on fuel in the nation," Morthland said. "This tax has a compounding effect as it increases when gas prices increase. This contributes to flight to Iowa and other states that don't have such a punitive tax structure." Morthland continued, "When we buy our gas in Iowa, it's not uncommon to pick a few groceries or other items there." 

The COGFA report speculates that this tax structure has a negative on business in Illinois.

"It's nice to have the income, but it's not necessarily a good dollar in if it's hurting our state and derailing Illinois jobs by pushing sales across state borders," Morthland said. "I am working on a form of tax relief for border communities in Illinois to restore our competitive edge."


Iowa Farm Bureau Study Estimates Missouri River Flooding at $207 Million in Crop and Economic Losses PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Iowa Farm Bureau   
Monday, 03 October 2011 14:06


WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Oct. 3, 2011 – This year’s devastating flooding on the Missouri River caused an estimated $207 million in lost crop sales and related economic activity in six western Iowa counties that border the river, according to a new study commissioned by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF).

The flooding began in late June when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened up a series of dams in the Dakotas to release water caused by heavy snows and record rains. Farmers are finally seeing the floodwaters recede and assessing the damage which includes severely damaged roads and the destruction of several hundred thousand acres of corn and soybean fields.

The study focused on Fremont, Pottawattamie, Mills, Woodbury, Harrison and Monona counties and analyzed the direct and indirect economic impacts from crop losses from flooded fields, said Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services. The study also factored in the impact of lost wages as the income of the lost crops won’t circulate in the western Iowa communities.

“This study shows the repercussions of the lost cropland and economic activity in these counties,” added Miller. “On a business level, farmers won’t be purchasing machines or inputs such as fertilizer for land. But there is also a household effect with reduced expenditures in those counties.”

For the farmers in the six-county region, the flooding cost $46.1 million in net income compared to pre-flood estimates.  That total included losses on flooded acres that can’t be harvested, as well as yield losses from affected crops that were within a mile of the flooded area. The study also factored in the cost of seed, fertilizer and other inputs that farmers had already invested in their 2011 corn and soybeans before the fields were damaged or wiped out by flooding.

The study also accounted for potential crop insurance indemnity payments that farmers will receive because their crops were destroyed, as well as payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Revenue Assistance payments (SURE) program, which provides financial assistance for crop production and or quality losses due to a natural disaster.

Fremont County suffered the highest losses, at an estimated $52.2 million; with $43.9 million in direct crop income loss and $8.3 million indirect losses from the damaged fields. Harrison County suffered $36.7 million in crop and other economic losses, and Monona County lost $32.3 million.

Losses in the remaining Missouri River counties were: Pottawattamie at $31.2 million; Mills at $22.2 million and Woodbury at $14.7 million.

Miller emphasized that the study measured losses of economic activity from lost crop sales and didn’t factor in losses to personal property, or the steep cost of rebuilding roads, levees and other infrastructure damaged or destroyed by the months of flooding.

“This is really just the tip of the iceberg on economic losses from the flooding,” Miller said. “But we hope this study will provide valuable information to help farmers, community leaders and lawmakers as they rebuild the region and push for policies to prevent or minimize flooding in the future.”


Q & A on Chinese Currency and U.S. Exports with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Charles Grassley   
Monday, 03 October 2011 13:01

Q:        What’s the effect on Americans when China undervalues its currency?

A:        China’s policy of intervening in its currency markets to limit or halt the appreciation of its currency, the yuan, against the U.S. dollar or other currencies has the effect of keeping Chinese exports cheap and imports expensive, putting some U.S. businesses at a disadvantage.  That has a negative effect on U.S. jobs.  It’s also an unfair and unlawful trade advantage for China to subsidize its exports.  New market opportunities are needed for job creation here at home, and market-based currency policy is an important factor in free and fair trade relationships.  Iowa has long been an exporting state, with good-paying jobs related to exports in manufacturing and agriculture.  One in every three tractors made in John Deere’s plant in Waterloo is sold to customers overseas.  One in every three acres planted on Iowa farmland heads to the international marketplace.  Ag exports account for one-quarter of farm cash receipts in Iowa.  U.S. exporters deserve a level playing field with China’s exporters.

Q:        What can be done?

A:        By law, the Treasury Department is required to name any country it suspects of manipulating the value of its currency to gain an unfair advantage in international trade.  Unfortunately, for too long, presidential administrations of both parties haven’t done what the law allows.  The current debate in Congress over China’s currency policy draws from more than five years of legislative proposals that would induce China, and other countries manipulating their currencies, to reform its currency policy or to address the effects of that policy on the U.S. economy.  I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation in the past, and this fall there is a proposal with bipartisan support to increase U.S. oversight of currency manipulation.  The measure would trigger meaningful consequences for countries that fail to adopt appropriate policies to eliminate currency misalignment and make sure U.S. trade laws may be used to counter the economic harm to U.S. manufacturers caused by currency manipulation, in accordance with international trade laws.

The executive branch also can and should prepare a case against China’s currency manipulation in the World Trade Organization, the 153-member organization (made up mostly of sovereign nations) that governs international trade.  The framework for World Trade Organization policies is based on the principles of non-discrimination, reciprocity, binding and enforceable commitments, transparency, and safety valves.  In joining the World Trade Organization ten years ago, China committed to adhering to the trade rules of the global marketplace.  If China is not willing to live up to its obligations, the behavior should be challenged under the international rule of law.


September 30, 2011

<< Start < Prev 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 Next > End >>

Page 241 of 309