Sunday, December 16, 2018

Trump Gets Win as Xi Makes Good on Pledge to Buy U.S. Soy

China resumed buying U.S. soybeans, bringing some relief to farmers in Donald Trump’s heartland as President Xi Jinping works toward a trade deal with his American counterpart.

The giant Asian commodity importer bought 1.5 million to 2 million metric tons of American supply over the past 24 hours, with shipments expected to occur sometime during the first quarter, the U.S. Soybean Export Council said, citing unidentified industry sources.

State stockpiler Sinograin and its top food company Cofco are planning more purchases, according to people with knowledge of the plan. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture disclosed sales of 1.13 million tons to China.

The purchases represent a major gesture by China toward easing tensions between the world’s two largest economies. Soybeans have become the poster child of the trade dispute, with the Asian nation shunning imports from farms in rural communities that voted for Trump in 2016. Futures in Chicago tumbled as a result, while the 2018 harvest had been piling up, unsold, in silos, bins and bags across the U.S. Midwest.

“The shipments, mainly from the Pacific Northwest, will help reduce stockpile pressures for U.S. soybean farmers,” said Li Qiang, chief analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. Also “these shipments can ease China’s own shortage of supplies in the first quarter of the year.”

This is the first significant purchase since the two countries began imposing tit-for-tat tariffs, with China slapping a 25 percent retaliatory levy on the American oilseed after Trump imposed duties on billions of dollars worth of goods from the Asian country.



Obama Pushes Bogus Claim About ACA: Your Premiums Cost Less Than Your Cell Phone Bill

Beth Baumann

President Barack Obama is doing everything in his power to encourage average Americans to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. On Monday, Obama shared a video, reminding Americans to sign up in case they get "very sick" in 2019.

What's bogus is Obama makes the claim that most people can get health insurance for $50 to $100 a month, which he says is significantly less than a person's cell phone bill.

A couple years ago, when I had my own business, I had health insurance through the exchange. I was paying roughly $350/month for just myself. My deductible was significantly lower than some of the other plans that had lower premiums and higher deductibles. I don't see the doctor very much but when I do, I don't want a $300-$400 bill.

Out of curiosity, I checked how much it would be for me to get a plan on Obamacare. Right now. For a 26-year-old, who sees the doctor 3-4 times a year and takes 2-3 prescriptions, there was nothing under $270 in Idaho. How is that less than my cell phone bill?

And how is that affordable when the deductibles are thousands and thousands of dollars? What incentive do people – especially young adults my age – have to enroll in Obamacare when they'd pay more health insurance than they'd spend out-of-pocket for the few times a year they see the doctor?

This is another fabricated lie, just like "if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor."



Shocker! CNN Runs Good Story On Trump That Involves Dismantling Obamacare

CNN featured a story about President Donald Trump and his administration expanding the employers’ current ability to offer cash to employees who wish to purchase healthcare somewhere else, even the Obamacare exchange.

President Trump seemed to be bent on dismantling Obamacare and this measure gives working Americans more cash from their employer to help cover the cost of health benefits.

The way it works now is that employers are often able to provide their employees with a tax-free fund to cover their health care costs, which can include deductibles and co-pays. The Trump administration wants to extend this, particularly for smaller businesses who found it difficult to meet expensive Obamacare requirements, as reported by CNN.

Prior to Obamacare, employers used Health Reimbursement Arrangements to reimburse workers for a wider array of expenses, including premiums. The Obama administration, however, barred the use of Health Reimbursement Arrangements to buy policies on the individual market.

The move is aimed at increasing health insurance coverage among those who work at smaller firms, many of which don’t provide benefits. It would also allow employers who do offer benefits to give each worker up to $1,800 a year in an Health Reimbursement Arrangement to pay for certain health care expenses or buy dental or vision coverage.

Trump’s administration would like to make it easier for Americans to buy an alternative to Obamacare, one of Barack Obama’s most criticized accomplishments.

Obamacare, for many, increased the costs and lowered the quality of care, particularly small business owners who struggled to cover healthcare for employees while still having enough income to keep business alive and profit.

CNN also reported that this announcement comes from an executive order that Trump issued last October. It’s designed to increase the choice and competition in the health insurance market, something that many people would enjoy being part of.

At one point the American health insurance system was similar to cell phone programs who continuously offer the same services and different incentives to join. For example, some health insurance providers would allow lower costs for Americans who were younger, more active, and in great overall health.

Once Obamacare was rolled out, many of the people who purchased their own plans were forced to go through the Obamacare portal and found out that the rates were much higher and the quality simply didn’t seem to be satisfactory.

In regards to Trump’s new plans, “the administration has already carried out the order’s other directives: expanding short-term policies, which last less than a year and aren’t required to adhere to all of Obamacare’s rules, and making it easier for small businesses to band together and offer coverage through association health plans, which also don’t have to offer coverage as comprehensive as the Affordable Care Act requires.”

If Trump can figure out a way that health insurance companies can profit while still providing affordable services to members, and cover members with preexisting conditions, then everyone will benefit.

When it came to the Affordable Care Act, there simply wasn’t anything affordable about it for many Americans.



Obamacare spiked by federal judge in Texas

Obamacare is no longer valid because of the GOP-led Congress’ changes to the law, a federal judge said late Friday in a bombshell ruling that sides with state Republicans who argue the’ decision to gut the “individual mandate” rendered the rest of the program null and void.

“The court finds the individual mandate is essential to and inseverable from the remainder of the [the health law],” U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor wrote.

The decision is a huge swipe at the 2010 law and sets the stage for a bigger judicial fight and will reverberate on Capitol Hill.

Its timing is also remarkable, coming roughly 24 hours before the deadline to enroll in Obamacare-related coverage on the federal website serving much of the country.

Twenty Republican-led states had argued the Supreme Court cast Obamacare as a package deal, with the mandate to hold insurance — or else pay a tax — tethered to the law’s goodies.

Congress slashed the mandate’s tax to zero, starting in 2019, as part of its tax-cut bill. The states said the rest of the law should fall with it, including protections for people with preexisting medical conditions like cancer or diabetes.

Blue-state attorneys general argued the Affordable Care Act should stand because the tax will still be on the books, even if it isn’t actively collecting revenue, and that Congress decided to keep the rest of Obamacare in place despite gutting the penalty.

Judge O’Connor disagreed. “In some ways, the question before the Court involves the intent of both the 2010 and 2017

Congresses,” he wrote. “The former enacted the ACA. The latter sawed off the last leg it stood on.  But however one slices it, the following is clear: The 2010 Congress memorialized that it knew the individual mandate was the ACA keystone.

Democrats reacted with outrage. “Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA for healthcare, and on America’s faithful progress toward affordable healthcare for all Americans,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court. Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”   

The American Medical Association decried the ruling as “an incredible step backward” for the U.S. health care system.



States Have a New Opportunity to Lower Insurance Premiums and Expand Options. Here’s How

The Trump administration is offering welcome relief to Americans struggling with high premiums under Obamacare premiums and a lack of insurance choices. The administration has taken a series of regulatory actions to do the following:

* Make short-term, limited duration policies widely available and give consumers the right to renew those policies.

* Make it easier for small businesses and independent contractors to band together for greater insurance purchasing power.

* Propose to allow employers to contribute to tax-advantaged accounts, which their workers could then use to purchase portable insurance coverage.

The Department of Health and Human Services also has made it easier for states to promote more affordable, flexible insurance coverage options by obtaining waivers from restrictive Obamacare regulations.

These “State Empowerment and Relief Waivers” enable states to tap money that the federal government would have paid directly to insurance companies in the form of premium subsidies. States could repurpose this money to design and implement their own premium assistance programs. Such programs could distribute subsidies through defined contributions to consumer-directed accounts established for low-income individuals.

States also could provide premium subsidies for insurance policies that don’t conform to Obamacare’s rigid requirements.

States that obtain these waivers would be able to reduce premiums and increase health insurance choices for their residents, while still protecting vulnerable people such as those with pre-existing conditions

The Department of Health and Human Services is establishing this waiver program under Section 1332 of the Obamacare statute, which permits states to deviate from the Obamacare framework so long as their plan maintains coverage rates, assures the availability of policies offering coverage that meet Obamacare requirements, and makes insurance more affordable, all without increasing the federal deficit.

The Obama administration had placed excessively restrictive conditions on these waivers, inhibiting state innovation. Health and Human Services earlier this fall relaxed those requirements, and last month issued what it called “waiver concepts,” which describe categories of waivers the administration would be inclined to approve. These include:

* Account-based subsidies. Under this concept, states would repackage Obamacare subsidies to go directly to individuals. This would be a change from today’s approach, which sends money directly to insurance companies. Subsidized individuals would get their money in accounts they own and control, and could use these accounts to pay premiums as well as cover medical expenses. The account also would allow recipients to aggregate funding from nongovernment sources, including individual and employer contributions.

* State-specific premium assistance. Obamacare subsidies are income-related and offer little relief for those with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level (roughly $24,000 in annual income). A state could restructure the subsidies in ways that work better for the unique needs of its population. It could offer assistance to a broader swath of its population and use them to make policies more attractive to young adults.

* New plan options. Obamacare limits the choices available to premium recipients, only allowing them to use their subsidies to buy policies that meet all of the law’s requirements. Under this waiver option, a state could give subsidy-eligible individuals the right to use their subsidies to buy the coverage of their choice.

* Protecting people with high medical costs through risk stabilization strategies. States could also obtain waivers to establish programs that direct public resources to those in greatest medical need. A state could, for example, establish a separate pool for consumers with specified medical conditions that make them more likely to incur large medical bills. Public resources would be directed to that pool to better serve those with the greatest health care costs, while providing premium relief to those in better health. Seven states already have obtained waivers to operate programs of this sort. Premiums have come down in all of those states.

* States can advance proposals that combine these ideas. They could, for example, fund a high-risk pool and provide premium subsidies in the form of contributions to consumer-directed, individual accounts.

These waiver concepts could spur a wave of patient-centered innovation. One of Obamacare’s core conceits was that what (allegedly) worked in Massachusetts would also work in Mississippi, Missouri, and Montana. That hasn’t borne out.

Under Obamacare, premiums have skyrocketed, networks have narrowed, insurance choices have contracted, and people have fled the individual market by the millions. As of December 2017, there were 2.3 million fewer unsubsidized people with individual policies than in December 2013, the month before Obamacare took full effect. An estimated 2.3 million unsubsidized people left the market between March 2017 and March 2018.

Individuals and states have been bystanders as a Washington-imposed regime wreaked havoc on their insurance markets. State Empowerment and Relief Waivers offer states the opportunity to implement innovative ideas that bring at least a measure of relief to beleaguered residents.

Congress should go further and enact the Health Care Choices Proposal, which would provide states with resources and more flexibility to breathe life into their ailing insurance markets. The proposal would replace Obamacare entitlements with grants to states, which would design consumer-centered programs to make insurance affordable, regardless of income or health status.

The new waivers, while a helpful first step toward these goals, still force states to obtain Washington’s permission to deviate a bit from federal guidelines. Under the Health Care Choices Proposal, each state would take the lead in assuring that its residents—including those who need assistance to afford coverage—would be free to choose among a range of affordable insurance products.

The Health Care Choices Proposal would reverse Obamacare’s polarity, empowering state governments, rather than Washington bureaucrats, to set insurance policy.

Because State Empowerment and Relief Waivers must function within Obamacare’s architecture, they offer states only a small measure of flexibility. They are nevertheless a step in the right direction.

States should seize the opportunity to provide their consumers lower costs and more health care choices.



Democrat Christmas


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"Obama Pushes Bogus Claim About ACA: Your Premiums Cost Less Than Your Cell Phone Bill"

Of course Obama is lying about Obamacare; he always has. Why would he stop now?