Senate To Unveil Healthcare Bill Thursday, June 22nd

US Senate Republicans plan to release their draft healthcare bill tomorrow and expect to vote on the bill next week once it has been scored by the CBO (Congressional Budget Office).  

While final details are being worked out, President Trump has asked the Senate to pass a more generous bill than the House bill (AHCA) which Trump referred to as "mean".  

Given the opposition of all Senate Democrats to repealing Obamacare, Republican leaders will need the support of at least 50 of the chamber's 52 Republicans to ensure passage.
Vice President Mike Pence predicted that new healthcare legislation would be enacted this summer.

Read the full article from Reuters

I will be very curious to read the draft bill once released.

Dave




Auto insurance rates on the rise: What you can do

Auto insurance rates increased 7 percent from a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Labor consumer price index. That figure is for rates nationwide; Washington state rates increased 5.9 percent in 2016, and 2017 rates are on pace to match or exceed that. 
Table courtesy Insurance Information Institute 

Washington consumers are feeling the effects of the increases. This year alone, we�ve fielded 421 calls and 140 complaints about auto rate increases.

The big question, of course, is what is driving the rate increases. There are several factors:
  • People are driving more miles. As the economy has rebounded, people are driving more miles per year, which leads to more collisions. 
  • Car repairs are costly. Newer vehicles are equipped with high-tech features, such as backup cameras, which are intended to improve safety, but they also cost more to repair. For example, a relatively minor fender-bender used to be not very costly to repair. However, if your car has a backup camera, your bumper contains cameras that have to be installed in a specific way in order to work properly. Cars have become computers on wheels. 
  • Distracted driving. According to the Washington state Traffic Safety Commission, distractions were a factor in 40 percent of all collisions in 2014, the single most common contributing factor in all collisions that year (read more). The number of collisions in your area contributes to increased insurance premiums -- if collisions increase, your rates are will as well. 
A new state law takes effect on July 23 that greatly restricts drivers� electronic use and doubles the fine for infractions. If that law helps reduce collisions, the effect could be beneficial for auto insurance rates. Washington state Target Zero has information about the new law and what it will mean for Washington state drivers.

Some insurance companies are telling their customers that a new OIC rule about credit scoring is causing their rates to increase. Here are the facts: Insurance companies are allowed to look at consumers� credit scores when setting rates for homes, autos and other personal property � they are not required to, but most of them do. We found that companies were inconsistently using credit scores, and it was causing some people to face rate increases that seemed unfair or discriminatory. For example, if a 19-year-old applies for insurance and the company runs a credit check, the score is not likely to be very high. If the company uses that same credit information for the next 10 years when pricing the policy, and meanwhile the consumer�s credit score improves, that person is unfairly being charged more than they should.

The new rule requires insurance companies that use credit scores to do so consistently. All companies that choose to use credit scores must run them at least once every three years for all of their customers. Many consumers� credit scores improve over time, which means their rates should go down. However, if the insurer doesn�t run credit checks for policy renewals, the rule doesn�t apply � they won�t be required to start running credit checks if they weren�t already doing so.

Our advice to consumers: 
  • Shop around. Rates will continue to increase in the short-term, but you may find a lower rate with a different company. When you shop around, ask the company if they�ve filed or plan to file any rate increases. 
  • Ask about discounts. Some companies give discounts if you have other policies with them, if you�ve been accident-free or have a clean driving record for a period of time, or if teen drivers maintain a certain grade-point average. Consumers who drive few miles may be able to find discounts, or may save money with usage-based insurance. 
More information:

Interactive Benchmark Exchange Premium Rates 2017

NASHP (National Academy for State Health Policy) and KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) have provided a 2017 interactive premium map for exchange plans in 2017.  

This map is for Benchmark plans in each county for a 40-year-old individual.  The Benchmark is the second lowest cost silver plan.  Subsidy eligibility is based on the benchmark plan.

For California, cheapest premiums are in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.  San Diego and Central Valley are also on the lower end.  Central Coast, Sierra and northern counties are higher with highest being northern Central Coast including Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.  

Several counties in western Arizona have the highest benchmark premiums at over $700 per month!  

http://www.nashp.org/health-insurance-marketplace-second-lowest-cost-silver-plan-by-county-2017/


Dave
www.davefluker.com



California Single Payer Reality - LA Times

The LA Times didn't mince words in their June 5th evaluation of California's Single Payer Healthy California Act (SB 562).

All that passed was authorization to keep yakking about it in dreamland.  Or you can look at it this way: A fantasy-driven single-payer healthcare concept was given the equivalent of a grade-school social promotion.

There is serious doubt that SB 562 will make it out of the Assembly... 

�This is the Senate kicking the can down the road to the Assembly and asking the Assembly to fill in all of the blanks,� Hueso said. �I don�t see this bill coming back from the Assembly. I think this bill will die in the Assembly.�

 Anyway, even if the Legislature did manage to pass a bill, Gov. Jerry Brown probably would veto it. He�s very skeptical about the financing.

I guess we will have to wait and see how things unfold in the California Assembly.   In the meantime don't forget that the 2018 Open Enrollment Period has been shortened from 90 days to 45 days.  


Read LA Times Article


Dave
www.davefluker.com




Healthy California Act Passes State Senate, Moves To Assembly

SB 562, the Healthy California Act for single payer healthcare passed the California State Senate by a vote of 23-14.  

Next stop for the bill is the California State Assembly where it is expected to meet a more difficult path.  If the Assembly ammends the bill, it would have to go back to the Senate for approval before being sent to the Governor for signature or veto.

Voting for this bill was as follows...

Ayes: Allen, Atkins, Beall, Bradford, De Le�n, Dodd, Galgiani, Hernandez, Hertzberg, Hill, Jackson, Lara, Leyva, McGuire, Mendoza, Mitchell, Monning, Newman, Portantino, Skinner, Stern, Wieckowski, Wiener

Noes: Anderson, Bates, Berryhill, Cannella, Fuller, Gaines, Glazer, Moorlach, Morrell, Nguyen, Nielsen, Stone, Vidak, Wilk

No Votes Recorded: Hueso, Pan, Roth

http://www.healthycaliforniaact.org/california-senate-says-yes-guaranteed-healthcare/


Dave
www.davefluker.com





Interactive TrumpCare Premium Increase Map

The Century Foundation has released an interactive premium map based on CBO projections if the AHCA (TrumpCare) were to become law.


On May 24, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) would cause premiums in the individual market to rise by 20 percent next year.
This rate hike may happen even if Congress fails to pass the AHCA. On his first day in office, President Trump signed an executive order to scale back Affordable Care Act (ACA) policies which could have a similar double-digit impact as the ACHA next year.  

The Century Foundation Interactive Map and Article


Dave
www.davefluker.com




New Medicare cards are coming starting in April

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing redesigned Medicare cards to beneficiaries in Washington state aft...