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.

healthinsurance

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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Wise Advice for First-Time Renters

School is finally over. It is time to go out and look for your own new apartment. After an exhaustive search and a barrage of confusing paperwork, you are finally ready to move in to your first apartment. You have managed to furnish new home with everyday essentials and are eager to begin living in your own place for the very first time. But let’s slow up for a minute! There are other things you should be considering as you are moving into your new apartment. It is important that you consider buying renters insurance before getting too comfortable in your new place.

For little cost, renters insurance can help protect you from fire, smoke, vandalism, and theft-related losses. Imagine that you had to completely replace all of your belongings due to a fire, would you be able to afford that? There are two different ways you can insure your belongings on a renters insurance policy: actual cash value and replacement cost. Although replacement cost policies are a bit more expensive than actual cash policies, they help reimburse you for the full cost of replacing your belongings. An example of the differences would be: if you purchased a flat screen TV, and it was stolen while you are on vacation. Actual cash value replacement would give you money to replace the belonging by assigning a marketplace value to your TV and then subtract depreciation (for it is no longer new). If you had replacement cost the insurance company would replace your TV with one of like kind and quality to what you had before.

Your renters’ insurance policy also covers liability protection in the case that you are sued for bodily injury or property damage. Most first-time renters are not aware that if you invite someone in to your home and they get hurt or if you cause bodily injury or property damage to someone else, you could be liable to pay for their medical and/or pain and suffering expenses. For example – picture you had a party at your home on a Saturday night, which included alcohol. When your guests leave your home, they are intoxicated and get into a serious automobile accident. You could easily be sued for allowing your guests to leave your home intoxicated. This lawsuit could simply cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), only 31% of renters have renters insurance. This low percentage is likely caused by the common misconception that landlord’s insurance covers damage to personal possessions. The truth is, your landlord’s policy probably covers only damage to the building and provides you no coverage your belongings or for liability coverage if you are sued. Renters insurance is also a good idea if you’re a college student living away from home. You should check to be sure that your belongings would be covered by your parents’ homeowner’s policy. Most homeowners policies have a small amount coverage for belongings off premise of your home. This amount might not be nearly enough coverage to place your belongings. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you look into renters insurance:

  • Make sure to keep a record of your belongings that may need to be replaced, such as a video or photo inventory. Make sure to store this in a safe place separate from your apartment.
  • If you are living with a nonrelative, your roommate may not be covered by your policy and have to get a policy of their own.
  • Be sure to also insure your jewelry or collectibles on your renters policy.
  • If you carry auto insurance, purchasing renters insurance could provide you with a discount depending on the insurance company you go with.

Did you know that you can be reimbursed under some renters policies if you become a victim of identity theft? Or that your policy rate may be discounted if your rental property has a burglar alarm? We at Brownell insurance center are a great resource for coverage options and potential discounts under your renters’ policy. Once you find a policy that fits your needs, you’ll finally be ready to begin living in your new apartment — with a lot more peace of mind. Best of luck!

Information for this blog provided by Safeco Insurance.