Obamacare has dodged another bullet!


Information for this blog came from the New York Times Saturday, March 25, 2017, and a CNN Money article written by Tami Luhby titled – Obamacare survived: What all this means for you.
The Republicans in the House failed to vote on the removal of Obamacare. Speaker the House, Paul D. Ryan was unable to muster enough votes for the defeat of Obamacare. What does this mean to you? It means that you will be able to keep your current plan for at least 2017. Health insurance companies have signed contracts with the exchanges to provide health insurance contracts throughout the 2017 year. Obamacare shouldn’t see any significant changes and insurance health premiums should remain the same for the rest of 2017.
The biggest change that could happen in 2018 is that Congress decides not to fund the cost-sharing subsidies that millions of Americans are currently using. If these cost-sharing subsidies are not funded, the help for reducing deductibles and co-pays for low-income consumers will most likely end. Lawmakers have not decided on how or if they will support these subsidies paid directly to insurance companies. If these subsidies are not funded, insurers might consider this a breach of contract and try to drop out of the exchanges immediately. This would leave many Americans without health insurance.
The federal government is still supporting Medicaid and Medicaid remains an open-ended entitlement thanks to the defeat of the Republican bill. Health Sec. Tom Price is encouraging governors to apply work requirements for recipients to receive Medicaid. Also being considered is that the beneficiaries of these programs pay a premium for the benefit.
You still have to buy health insurance or be subject to a penalty on your income tax. The individual mandate, which requires individuals to be insured, has not been lifted. Pres. Trump’s executive order has caused the IRS to loosen its oversight slightly, but financial burdens must be justified as to why you do not have health insurance. Insurance companies are lobbying hard to have this provision remain in Obamacare because it is an important way to encourage younger, healthy Americans sign up for health insurance. With the promise of removal of this mandate, 2017 saw a dramatic slowing of the number of Americans signing up for health coverage. Unfortunately, for the people who decided not to take out the health insurance – open enrollment is now closed, and they will have to wait for coverage until next January and pay the penalty.
Obamacare still has a very rocky road ahead for even though the Republicans have said that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the law of the Land. The Trump administration will continue to chip away at the foundation of the ACA. Health insurance companies are looking to the Trump administration and lawmakers for answers to the funding of subsidies, so they can decide if they will participate in the exchanges in 2018. This could mean very few insurance companies will be willing to provide coverage for time is running out. Insurance companies have to start submitting their policies, and premium amounts to their state regulators in the next few weeks. Pres. Trump predicted the current healthcare program would explode. This could very well happen if no action is taken fund Obamacare quickly. We will need to see what happens over the next few weeks. Hopefully, our representatives in the Congress and Senate will keep our insurance needs in mind. Let your representative know how you feel on the subject.



Executive Orders & Health Care Update

What is an executive order?

According to Wikipedia, an executive order has the full force of the law when they take authority from a legislative power, which grants its power directly to the executive by the Constitution or are made under Acts of Congress that explicitly delegate to the President some degree of discretionary power.

In layman’s terms, an executive order is a directive that is given by a president without the involvement of Congress or the Supreme Court. Using an executive order allows the president to make policy that circumvents Congressional control. These directives can only be given to federal agencies, like the Department of Health and Human Services. Executive orders are usually used by presidents when government policy needs to work more quickly than normal legislative channels. The Constitution does not mention executive orders, but they have been used since Pres. Washington. Some feel that executive orders put a strain on the Constitutional checks and balances.  For it is written that Congress makes the laws, the Supreme Court interprets the laws, and the president of the executive branch enforces the laws. Executive orders go against this process, but the Supreme Court can step in and reduce or nullify the law.

Here is a chart showing the annual average number of executive orders by President:

USAToday News Executive Orders

(Image Credit: USANews)

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/trump-signs-executive-order-on-obamacare/

The material for this blog today came from a CNN Politics news article on how Pres. Trump could plan to proceed on his campaign promise to roll back Obamacare.

GettyImages-632489942-1024x785On the same day that Pres. Trump was sworn in as president; he took no time to the Oval Office to sign an executive order to seek the prompt appeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This executive order does not change the law of the Affordable Care Act but does set forth the direction on how the president wishes the Congress to move forward. The Sec. of Health and Human Services, as well as other agencies, can waive, defer, grant exceptions from or delay implementation of any provision or requirement of Obamacare that imposes a burden “to the maximum extent permitted by law.”


What does this mandate mean to us?

Shortly, it will not change things right away, but it does let Congress know how the President wishes to move forward. The interpretation of this mandate makes it clear that Pres. Trump wants to weaken the Affordable Care Act. Little will be accomplished until the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) is up and running. They will then work on changing the regulations. Tom Price, the President’s choice to head the HHS, will meet with the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday to discuss the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even though the Republicans are trying to repeal the ACA, it will still need funding.

All of this is going to take time; Pres. Trump does not have the power to nullify the Affordable Care Act. Pres. Trump’s mandate signals to agencies to begin taking steps to reduce regulatory requirements and give more power to the states regarding their health care requirements. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done before the ACA can be changed. It is tough to overhaul a law that is in place. GOP leaders must be careful how they move forward for the uncertainty of what will replace the ACA could cause chaos in the insurance marketplace thus causing many of us to lose our health insurance possibly. For this transition to go smoothly, the” repeal and replace” strategy must happen almost simultaneously. The Republicans are beginning to realize that their campaign rhetoric will not be so easy to accomplish. All of us must remain vigilant in letting our Congress and President know of our needs, and the importance of good and affordable health insurance is to our family’s well-being.

static1.squarespaceLast Saturday, I had the privilege to march with my daughter and granddaughter in the Women March on Washington Rally in Washington, DC. It was a tremendous moment in history for we were able to rally peacefully and let the world know that our opinions matter. Thank you to all the other women that walked with us. One of the topics stressed was the importance of good health insurance for all Americans. I hope that Pres. Trump and the GOP honor their commitment to providing good health insurance for all. Please comment on my blog, your thoughts on this issue.


Are They Replacing Affordable Care Act?

Affordable Care Act

These are very uncertain times when it comes to your health insurance and the incoming administration. Daily, we are being bombarded by the news media claiming that Obamacare will be repealed. It is hard to know what is factual or what is it just media hype. Brownell Insurance is here to help bring some clarity to the current health care state of affairs.

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, also known Obamacare. The new law required immediate changes and regulatory rules that rippled through the insurance industry. The ACA did not take effect until 2014 and health insurance became mandatory for all US citizens. If you were not covered under a group policy or your individual health policy, you would receive a penalty when you did your 2014 federal income taxes.

As outlined in the ACA health insurance timeline, it takes time and systematic processes for these changes to happen. The proposed changes /repeal of the ACA, if approved, will most likely not take effect in 2017. Most of these changes will probably not even be possible until 2018 or 2019. It will take time for repeals to be put into place. It is important to have patience and not panic during these times of uncertainty.

Washington, Rep. Tom Price, the man chosen to lead the Department of Health and Human Services by President-elect Donald Trump, made a promise to “make sure that nobody falls through the cracks” if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if repealed. He set a goal to increase the number of people, who have health insurance.

During his nomination hearing, Rep. Tom Price was very vague with his description of the proposed health insurance plan. He believes that the individual states “know best” on how to handle their Medicaid beneficiaries. During his four hours of testimony, Rep. Tom Price said he supported many of the objectives of the ACA but didn’t see why the federal government had to specify so many details of insurance coverage in the act of Congress and a myriad of regulations, according to an article in New York Times.


Some of the positives of the ACA that I hope Congress will be able to still make available to us are:

  1. Young people under the age of 26 can remain on their parents’ health insurance policies regardless if they live at home or away, get married, or have group insurance available to them at work.
  2. Having pre-existing conditions not affect the person from obtaining health insurance or making them pay a very high health insurance premium.
  3. Keeping the maximum out-of-pocket benefit that limits what a patient is expected to pay for medical expenses under $8000 per year.

Some of the negatives of the ACA that I hope Congress will be able to correct are:

  1. Not being able to go out of your state for your primary care physician or your preferred hospital. We should be able to go to our desired doctor and hospital as long as they are in the insurance companies’ network, regardless of the state they practice in.
  2. Very little competition in the state by health insurance companies. We are currently limited to Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim, Harvard Pilgrim Elevate and Minuteman for our health insurance companies. To make pricing more competitive, we should have more than just these few insurance companies to choose from for health insurance.
  3. Get rid of the website – Healthcare.gov and the necessity of doing business with the federal government for our health insurance. Insurance companies should be able to speak directly with their insureds and not have to have approval from Healthcare.gov to help with simple problems, such as billing updates, lapses, minor corrections on the information of the insured or many other small changes. Now it takes a tremendous amount of time to make the small corrections for we must call healthcare.gov to make the correction and wait for them to notify the insurance company of the change.
  4. Make the open enrollment period a little longer and not over the holiday season.

It will be interesting over the next few of months or probably more realistically over the next few years, how the Trump administration and GOP-dominated Congress will reshape and/or repeal the Affordable Care Act. Hopefully, sane minds will prevail and we, the American public will be able to obtain good, affordable health insurance. Over the next few months, I will keep my clientele as informed as possible as to what is happening on the health insurance battleground. I hope you will follow this blog and respond to it when you feel it necessary. I am always interested to hear your thoughts and dedicated to finding answers to your many questions.

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