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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Emergency Immigration Funding Aids La Raza | Obamacare Premium Increases & Exchange Plagued With Problems

Today in Washington, D.C. - July 16, 2014
The House reconvened at 10 AM.  At 12:37 they House took up as unfinished business H.R. 5016 — "Making appropriations for financial services and general government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes." Their wil be votes on several amendments and a final vote is expected in th3e late afternoon.

The House previously passed H.R. 3230 - Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014. However the Senate has proposed their own version of the bill so it will be going to conference. The House is expected to debate instructing House conference members on actions they may take on this bill.

Yesterday the House passed:
H.R. 5021 (367-55) — "To provide an extension of Federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3086 (Voice Vote) — "To permanently extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act."

The Washington Post reports that "The White House is defying a subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, refusing to make a top political adviser to President Obama available for testimony Wednesday morning. The clash is the latest skirmish over the powers of the executive branch and particularly the role of White House political advisers."

Yesterday, Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens urged the House of Representatives to attach an amendment to Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency immigration supplemental again defunding a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulation, “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” that the National Council of La Raza favors as helping those who “fear deportation." He said, “Starting in October, the Obama administration will be conditioning eligibility for community development block grants on redrawing municipal zoning maps along racial and income boundaries. Now, we know that La Raza believes HUD implementation of this racial rezoning rule will benefit those who ‘have cited fear of deportation’—meaning the rule will be used to move millions of illegal immigrants into communities across America.

“Not one penny should be spent by HUD resettling millions of noncitizens in local communities under the guise of ‘affordable’ housing—the federal government has absolutely zero role in local zoning decisions.

“Now is the time for the House to act again in defunding HUD’s racial rezoning rule in the $3.7 billion emergency supplemental that Obama has requested to pay for current border operations. Although the House of Representatives has already acted, passing an amendment to the Transportation and HUD appropriations bill by Representative Paul Gosar to defund the regulation, acting now on this emergency legislation will ensure a full and complete discussion of this issue in the Senate.”

The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today and resumed consideration of the nomination of Ronnie White to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri.

At 10:15, the Senate voted 54-43 to invoke cloture on the White nomination. Once again, Democrats used the precedent they established to invoke cloture with fewer than 60 votes following their use of the nuclear option to break Senate rules in order to change them.  Just after noon, the Senate voted 53-44 to confirm the White nomination.

The Senate them resumed consideration of S. 2578, Democrats’ partisan bill that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision and erode religious freedom.   At 2:10 PM, the Senate will vote on cloture (i.e. to cut off debate and amendment and move to final passage) on S. 2578.

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed two nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The controversial Norman Bay was confirmed by a vote of 52-45. Following that vote, Cheryl LaFleur was confirmed by a vote of 90-7.

As the summer continues, we approach the new enrollment season for Obamacare in the fall. Leading up to that, and more states are announcing health insurance companies’ premiums for next year while the state exchanges approach a year since their debut but still struggle with serious problems.

Americans remember well that when he was pitching Obamacare, the president pledged, “Families will save on their premiums” and “This law will lower premiums.” Well, once again, states are announcing next year’s insurance rates, and once again, those rates are going up.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports, “Some Louisiana private health insurers filed for double-digit percentage increases in 2015 for policies sold under the Affordable Care Act's health exchange, according to filings this week with the Louisiana Department of Insurance. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, the state's largest provider, is proposing rate increases of between 18.3 percent and 19.7 percent for policyholders in its Blue Saver, Blue Max and its Multi-State individual health plans. The plans cover 52,638 people. The insurer said rates are not increasing for policyholders in the metro markets of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport who signed up for plans that limits health coverage to providers in a specified network of care givers. The 4,947 people who signed up with Humana Louisiana face a hike of 15.7 percent, while the 966 insured residents with Time Insurance Company face a hike of 24 percent for its Affordable Care Act compliant policy, according to the filings made public this week. . . . In a statement, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana said the biggest factor for proposing rate increases was the high utilization of health services used by subscribers. ‘Right now, at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, we are seeing that more people are accessing more health care services than we expected and our claims are higher than they have been in previous years. We expect this trend will continue,’ the insurer said in documents provided reporters Tuesday.”

And according to the AP, “Delawareans could face higher insurance costs under the Affordable Care Act next year under new rate requests from insurers. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is seeking average premium increases of 5 percent for individuals who bought insurance through Delaware's exchange. Exact premium changes will depend on factors including which plan is selected.”

Meanwhile, several states continue to struggle with their problematic Obamacare exchanges as we approach a year since they were supposed to be operational. The Las Vegas Sun writes, “Nevada's online health exchange is still facing bugs that make it difficult for people to sign up for insurance, a state official told a committee today. July marks nine months since the Silver State Exchange launched its online enrollment system. Nevada is one of 17 states that created its own exchange to implement President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. But the exchange's online software has been plagued with glitches that started even before its launch. Today's meeting signals that the problems continue. ‘There are a lot of errors currently in the system,’ Laura Rich, quality assurance officer at the Silver State Exchange, told an advisory committee to the Department of Health and Human Services. Consumers have reported paying for insurance premiums without receiving coverage or having to wait months for coverage. Other consumers reported not receiving tax credits, even though they were eligible. Rich said 37,000 Nevadans enrolled and received coverage. That's about 31 percent of the exchange's initial goal of 118,000 by the end of March. ‘It was a guesstimate. No. We didn't reach those numbers,’ she said.”

In Maryland, the Democrat-dominated government spent over a hundred million dollars to set up a state exchange, which imploded and never worked properly, so the state decided to ditch its own expensive exchange and use the one built by Connecticut. However, WBAL in Baltimore reports, “Maryland just purchased new health exchange software from the highly-touted Connecticut program, but that technology has issues. Legislators are being assured that the computer glitch discovered in the Connecticut technology will be corrected in Maryland's new system later this month, but other related issues are drawing concern. The highly-touted Access Health CT exchange has a programming flaw that is causing problems for several thousand of its customers. It's the same software system that was recently purchased to rescue the failed Maryland health benefits exchange. . . . The Connecticut exchange is still getting in touch with nearly 6,000 people impacted by the glitch. The problem, which was first reported by the Connecticut Mirror newspaper, left 903 people without coverage. Others were either inaccurately enrolled in Medicaid or received erroneous bills from their insurance companies because the firms got bad information from the exchange. . . . Although Maryland health exchange officials are confident they will have corrections made by July 25, they can't do any live testing before the fall open enrollment, and there is no timetable yet on when it will become self-sufficient.”

As Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said last week, “Many of us predicted that these kinds of problems would be the likely outcome of giving government such expansive power over such a huge segment of our economy. Of course you’re going to have massive inefficiency. And probable fraud. And migraines for middle-class families that already have enough to deal with. Of course you’re going to see all this. It seems inevitable. That’s why Republicans say we need to start over with actual health care reform – reform that can actually lower costs and increase the quality of care without resorting to this tired government-centric approach. Obamacare is built upon the intellectually lazy idea that we can simply legislate a desirable outcome into existence; that we can tell a hulking federal bureaucracy to simply bureaucratize affordable healthcare into being. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Reality always intervenes, just as we’ve been seeing with the pain of Obamacare these past few years — pain that will only continue until Washington Democrats join with us to enact a serious, bipartisan approach that actually addresses many of our health care challenges and dispenses with the failed policies of this Administration.”

Tags: emergency Immigration funding, LA Raza, Obamacare problems To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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