Posted: 8:18 am, 05.16.2013
States such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey have defaulted to a federal program to run the online health insurance exchanges that must go live by Oct. 1 as required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Delaware is working on a quasi-state-federal program, and Maryland has taken great pride in creating its own exchange.
But perhaps nowhere else in the country is a jurisdiction taking such advantage of the broadly interpreted law to boost not only political influence and power, but control over individuals and businesses, as in Washington, D.C.
In the District, no individual and no business (large businesses get a delayed deadline) will be able to purchase insurance directly from an agent or broker. Every resident and business must – by law – use the District’s online exchange to purchase the health insurance that everyone must have by decree of President Obama.
But the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority has gone beyond power hungry. The agency that is creating and managing the online exchange is stacking its ranks with only those who think, act and have worked directly with them or on ACA.
Week after week comes news that new hires are coming directly from either D.C. government or the federal agency managing ACA.
In December, the HBX Authority hired Mila Kofman, former Maine insurance commissioner who served on that state’s health reform implementation committee. Her biography states that she “implemented health reform” while working at the U.S. Dept. of Labor; working on health reform before there was health reform.
Since then, she and the HBX Authority named a “Producer Advisory Committee” with brokers and agents – and also a D.C. government executive who helped create the exchange, as well as a Kathleen Sebelius cheerleader, Toni Young, whose homepage has pictures of the HHS secretary and glowing words of praise for the HHS secretary.
[Read related story here.]
In a two week time span in late February and early March, HBX hired the former interim director of the exchange (click here), a former manager of the federal office of insurance oversight, a staffer from Sebelius’s HHS office and director of D.C.’s health reform administration (click here), a former project director for D.C.’s insurance department who helped craft ACA’s 2,900 pages of legislation (click here), a former member of the Democratic Professional Staff for the House Ways and Means Committee who helped develop ACA (click here), a Democrat congressional staffer who helped draft ACA (click here), and the chief advisor to Secretary Sebilius (click here).
It is doubtful that business-friendly regulation will emerge with such a stacked deck. Business went apoplectic when the District effectively shut brokers out of conducting health ‘brokerage’ business, and brokers have told me they now consider D.C. “the forbidden zone.”
The only upside to all this is that we know where to not look for an example of good government serving its constituents and only serving itself – and its friends.
That’s my take.
Posted: 11:19 am, 04.26.2013
When Ben Cardin, one of two Democrat U.S. senators from Maryland, was first elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 1967, the handheld calculator had just been invented, the top TV programs were The Andy Griffith Show, The Lucy Show and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. (respectively), and the number one song at year’s end was “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees.
Since then, Ben Cardin graduated to the Major League, having served in Congress for the past 25 years as both a U.S. representative and in his most-recent incarnation as a senator.
For 45 years, Cardin has been lost in a world far-removed from the reality of life in the private sector, where balancing a budget and considering the actual effects of legislation upon the average American are as foreign a concept as time travel. Read this entry »
Posted: 8:47 am, 04.23.2013
Autoterminalegisitis – an inflammatory disease suffered by certain pieces of legislation afflicted by the need for overly burdensome and expensive treatment. Legislation afflicted by this disease requires constant attention, adjustment and regulation; infusions of cash; and often numerous radical provisionectomies. The treatments provided rarely cure the disease, but rather often postpone an inevitably painful death. Interestingly enough, this disease, while manifesting within the legislation itself, typically inflicts pain and suffering upon the observers of the legislation. Once the observers rise up to confront the true symptoms of the disease – the authors – the disease can be cured through effective transfusion.
Yes, transfusion – that’s correct – removes the unhealthy cells and replaces them with healthy cells. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is terminal, likely to suffer death to socialized medicine unless massive industry segments finally rise up to demand a different approach. Read this entry »
Posted: 11:32 am, 04.04.2013
How can Congress – or any state legislature, for that matter – propose a mandate that citizens must buy a product that virtually doesn’t exist?
The answer is: “They propose whatever they want, regardless of whether or not the product even exists.”
Case in point is the recent proposal from Democrats in Congress that gun buyers purchase liability insurance. Read this entry »
Posted: 3:07 pm, 03.26.2013
After months of political wrangling and speculation, the “fiscal cliff” was averted when Congress enacted the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The legislation provides some long-awaited clarity for income and estate tax rates, as well as the estate tax exemption. As a result, there is no uncertainty or planned changes for the foreseeable future for the estate tax exemption and maximum tax rate. Read this entry »
Posted: 10:39 pm, 03.13.2013
The Obama administration released a draft application for Obamacare, which will rival the complexity of IRS tax forms, and in some cases might be more complicated for some than tax forms.
Those who fill out the E-Z form will find that the requirements for the new form overly oppressive, and will make citizens be much better managers of their financial history.
Not to mention the draft forms for instructions if financial assistance is required; more than 50 pages in that document alone. Read this entry »
What life insurance selling is all about
In the spirit of full disclosure, this is a sales article. It’s about how to sell life insurance. If you’re looking for “sales tips” for making quick hits, this is not for you.
However, if you’re committed to the value of life insurance and want to achieve superior results for your clients and yourself, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
Selling life insurance never starts with a policy but with finding the right solution for the client, a task many agents find overly demanding and unnecessarily time consuming. Scoping out a client’s need requires asking the right questions, listening carefully to the answers, developing one or more possible solutions and arriving at an agreement with the client that best addresses the problem at hand. At this point, the client and advisor agree that the agent will construct and “price” the life insurance solution selected. Read this entry »
Posted: 4:08 pm, 02.28.2013
With the “great sequester” looming, subject to last minute negotiations and swift action by Congress, we face another $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts in federal spending over the next 10 years. President Obama’s health care reforms, expected to cost $ $1.083 trillion over the next decade, may no longer seem as essential to the lives of uninsured Americans. His health care reforms could now face significant cuts, which could have been negated. Read this entry »
Posted: 9:34 pm, 02.26.2013
Federal health insurance exchanges will not be online by Oct. 1, 2013, as required by the health reform law.
That is my prediction. But it’s more than just a shot in the dark, as the sweeping health reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), continues to come unhinged. Read this entry »
Posted: 5:26 pm, 02.07.2013
Joseph Totah is a guest columnist for IFAwebnews.com
David Allen Coe’s song “Take This Job and Shove It” was a big hit on the country charts for singer Johnny Paycheck in 1977. And that sentiment towards oppressive employers seems to have taken hold among state governors in most of the country.
A majority of states – 26 of them, with mostly Republican governors – rejected the chance to spend their own money and set up exchanges. Only 17 states decided to go ahead with implementing their own state version of the exchanges. Florida and Utah did not respond one way or another by the Dec. 15, 2012, opt-out deadline the federal government imposed, which is itself illustrative of the blessings of our classical federalist system.
Read this entry »