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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

California

Lara & Federal Shutdown: Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara strongly urges that insurance companies assist Californians who are affected by the Federal Government shutdown and may face delays in paying premiums or cancellation of policies. The Commissioner is asking insurers to be patient and work with these California residents during this difficult time.

 “The Federal shutdown is putting Californians at unnecessary risk of losing insurance coverage over late or unpaid bills,” said Commissioner Lara. “I am asking insurers to partner with me to protect our federal workers and contractors in California to give them some peace of mind during this time of uncertainty.”

The partial shutdown of the Federal Government is negatively affecting many California consumers, specifically those employed by the Federal Government and contractors who are not being paid their regular salary or receiving reimbursements when normally due. This delay in payment affects these consumers’ ability to pay their bills on time including insurance coverage, mortgages or other loans.

Commissioner Lara asks insurers to take into consideration the difficulties California consumers are facing and will continue to face until the current shutdown has ended. He urges insurers to relax due dates for premium payments, extend grace periods, waive late fees and penalties, allow forbearance with regard to the cancellation/non-renewal of policies, allow payment plans for premium payments, and exercise judicious efforts to assist affected policyholders and work with them to make sure that their insurance policies do not lapse.

Source link: California Department of Insurance

Idaho

Medicare Workshops: Free Medicare Workshops for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility have been scheduled in two Idaho cities.

The first is Thursday, January 24 from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Syringa Hospital Soltman Center, 600 W. Main St., Grangeville, Idaho. 

The second is Monday, January 28, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, 415 6th St., Lewiston, Idaho.

Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.

 The workshop will be led by Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance. SHIBA presenters will introduce the various parts of Medicare and explain some of the vocabulary associated with the program. 

Topics to be covered include:

• Timeframes for enrolling in Medicare

• Enrollment periods for Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans

• How the different parts of Medicare work together – and when they don’t

 To register for the workshops, please contact the SHIBA office at 1-800-247-4422.

Nevada

Highway Fatalities: the Department of Public Safety is worried. Nevada’s highway fatalities rose to a 10-year high. The department said 331 people died 2018 in 301 crashes.

Department spokesman Andrew Bennett said most of them were in Clark County. “In 2008 we were at 324, then we dropped to the mid 200s from about 2009 to 2013 and we then we saw a steady climb into the 300s in 2014,” he said. “So, 331 is on the high end in the last decade, but we have seen a 4 percent population growth over the past two years in the state as well.”

Pedestrian deaths in Nevada dropped from 98 in 2017 o 80 last year. Bennett said it is the first decrease in nine years.

Source link: Insurance Journal

Washington

The Commissioner’s 2019 legislative priorities: Surprise billing (HB 1065 and SB 5031 "Protecting consumers from charges for out-of-network health care services")

This legislation will stop patients from getting an additional bill, after the patient’s health plan has paid the normal rate and the patient has paid their portion (such as a co-pay) when they receive medical care for an emergency at an out-of-network emergency room and when they have an approved surgery at an in-network hospital or surgery center but receive services, such as anesthesiology, radiology or lab services, from a provider who is out-of-network.

The prime sponsor of HB 1065 is Rep. Cody. The prime sponsor of SB 5031 is Sen. Rolfes.

HB complete bill language (leg.wa.gov) (PDF, 181.46 KB)

   HB bill history (leg.wa.gov)

   HB Status: Public Hearing, January 23, 2019, 1:30pm

   SB complete bill language (leg.wa.gov) (PDF, 176.78 KB)

   SB bill history (leg.wa.gov)

   SB Status: Referred to Health & Long Term Care Committee

Disaster resilience working group (HB 1040 and SB 5106 "Concerning the creation of a work group to study and make recommendations on natural disaster mitigation and resiliency activities")

This legislation will create a work group composed of legislators, state agencies, insurance companies and other key stakeholders to review and make recommendations on how to best coordinate and improve disaster resiliency work in Washington State, including possibly creating a central place for coordination and planning.

The prime sponsor of HB 1040 is Rep. Reeves. The prime sponsor of SB 5106 is Sen. Das.

  HB complete bill language (PDF, 68.24 KB)

   HB bill history (leg.wa.gov)

   HB Status: Public Hearing, January 16, 2019, 8:00am/Executive Session, January 22, 2019, 10:00am/Executive Session, January 23, 2019, 8:00am

   SB complete bill language (leg.wa.gov)

   SB bill history (leg.wa.gov)

   SB Status: Public Hearing, January 15, 2019, 8:00am/Executive Action, January 17, 2019, 8:30am

Medicare access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) (SB 5032 "Concerning Medicare supplemental insurance policies")

This legislation will align Washington law with recent changes in the Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) statutes, which seek to prevent overutilization of services. Washington must have these changes in place by January 1, 2020. The two key changes are:

As of January 1, 2020, new enrollees will no longer be able to purchase a Medicare Supplement Plan which provides coverage for the Part B deductible. This does not impact existing enrollees.

Allow but not require companies to offer a new Plan G with a High Deductible option. Currently, only Plan F has an additional High Deductible option.

The prime sponsor of SB 5032 is Sen. Cleveland.

   SB complete bill language (leg.wa.gov) (PDF, 86.39 KB)

   SB bill history (leg.wa.gov)

   SB Status: Public Hearing, January 18, 2019, 8:00am

Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) Separate Funding (HB 1069 "Concerning the creation of the insurance fraud surcharge account")

This legislation will create a dedicated funding stream for the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s (OIC) Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU), who are charged with investigating and preventing insurance fraud. The legislation will also increase that funding to allow CIU to keep up with the increasing amount of fraud referrals by adding five new staff. The funding will be provided by dedicating a portion of the premium surcharge already collected by the OIC for CIU’s exclusive use.

The prime sponsor of HB 1069 is Rep. Stanford

   HB complete bill language (leg.wa.gov) (PDF, 82.11 KB)

   HB bill history (leg.wa.gov)

   HB Status: Public Hearing, January 16, 2019, 1:30pm/Executive Session, January 18, 2019, 9:00am

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

Kreidler and Innovators: Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is offering innovators in the insurance industry a new way to engage his office about potential products that may benefit consumers.

Kreidler announced an insurance innovation portal, Resources for insurance industry innovators.

Click here to access the portal that includes guidelines, a hotline and web form. This is designed to encourage companies, agents and insurance startups to contact his office early in the development of new products.

Kreidler noted that changing social and technological trends have created an opportunity for insurance entrepreneurs. 

“The insurance industry is constantly evolving and we want to make sure innovators understand the laws that guide insurance regulation in Washington,” Kreidler said. “We are eager to work with innovators as they prepare to bring products to market. We’re committed to fair and efficient regulation.”

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner regulates Washington’s $42 billion insurance industry. For more information, please visit www.insurance.wa.gov

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content  insurance industry 

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PIA Western Alliance Renames Annual Golf Tournament

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

See You in Salishan!

More information about this tournament can be found here.

 


Tags:  Dave Iwata Annual Golf Tournament  Salishan OR 

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See U in Salishan for the insurance industry event of the year!

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

 

OREGON AGENTS!

Be here for the insurance industry event of the year!

SPONSOR  |  EXHIBIT  |  VENUE   |  GOLF

 

WELCOME TO

SALISHAN!

The Professional Insurance Agents of Oregon/Idaho surveyed our members and found they are ready for us to host a full 3 day convention and we are thrilled to do so!

We will kick off our new program at the beautifully restored Salishan Lodge, Gleneden Beach,  located just a few miles south of Lincoln City on the beautiful Oregon Coast.

We'll make it worth your while with great networking, Golf, fantastic education and information and the best trade show of it's kind showcasing the latest in products and services.

We look forward to seeing YOU!

 

 

Tags:  2019 Oregon Idaho PIA Conference and Tradeshow  PIA Oregon Idaho 

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Update: Washington State’s Onerous Proposed 9% Capital Gains Tax

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019


Washington Governor Jay Inslee has submitted the state’s next budget. Out of the budget proposal has come a bill that hugely impacts small business. The first — and most onerous — is a 9% capital gains tax on the sale of a business by a small business owner. The second is an increase in the B&O tax of 66%.

The bill is Senate Bill 5129.

The second part of the bill — so far — does not impact the independent insurance agent members of PIA Washington/Alaska. The sale of insurance is exempt. It is an increase for service industry businesses like attorneys, accountants, architects, etc.

The first part of SB 5129, however, will impact the association’s hard working entrepreneurs.

Last week the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the tax. After hearing testimony — including that of former PIA Washington/Alaska President Dick Fournier and others in the insurance industry— it is predicted that the committee will send the bill onto the full Senate.

At that point, the PIA Washington will send out a call to action to oppose and will ask you to contact the governor and local legislators.

In his testimony, Fourier noted — like others in opposition — that hundreds of small businesses will be impacted. He said, “For many of us decades of work began small. We worked nights and on weekends, and sometimes seven days a week. Our client lists often came from a phone book and we reached them via telephone. As the business grew the plan was to eventually sell and use the profit of that sale for retirement.”

None of us — he pointed out — counted on losing 9% of that profit to this unfair tax. That 9% he said, “will have to be passed onto the buyer.”

He concluded by telling the committee that business owners — especially those of small business insurance agencies — work very hard for small commissions.

These agents, he said, “are among the hardest working people in the state. This is a top-heavy tax that is not fair and that will reduce the value of the business built by hard-working entrepreneurs.”

In an interview with Weekly Industry News, PIA Washington Lobbyist Mel Sorensen said, “For many, they have spent their entire professional careers building their businesses. The value in their business is frequently what they plan to rely on for their retirements. It’s simply damaging to expose them to a new 9% capital gains tax. For these reasons, we oppose the Governor's proposal to enact a new 9% tax on Capital Gains in Washington State.”

Testifying with Fournier was National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) spokesman Wayne Lunday.“That’s my retirement,” he said. “That’s the retirement of all the NAIFA members that are out there building those small agencies and small businesses. And it’s going to devastate them if they have to write a check for 9% of what their business is worth to the governor.”

The bill does have exemptions from the tax:

  The sale of a residence

  Property used in a trade or business

  Cattle livestock

  Timber and agricultural lands

  Traditional retirement accounts

 

The tax would tax long-term gains over $25,000 for a single filer and at $50,000 for joint filers. If passed, it starts in 2020.

 

Sources: Weekly Industry News, Whidbey News Times

 

 

Tags:  Update: Washington State’s Onerous Proposed 9% Cap 

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The Impact of PG&E’s Bankruptcy

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

 

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is going to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The deed will be done before the end of January. The company has been blamed for a bunch of California wildfires — fires that killed dozens of people and burned down thousands of homes and other buildings.

Federal Judge William Alsup — who is adjudicating another PG&E disaster, 2010’s San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion — says he’s “tentatively” concluded uninsulated power conductors caused the Camp Fire that destroyed most of Paradise in early November of last year.

“The single most recurring cause of the large 2017 and 2018 wildfires attributable to PG&E’s equipment has been the susceptibility of PG&E’s distribution lines to trees or limbs falling onto them during high-wind events,” the judge wrote. “This has most often occurred in rural areas where distribution lines use thirty-five to fifty-foot single poles and run through grass, brush, oak and pines. The power conductors are almost always uninsulated. When the conductors are pushed together by falling trees or limbs, electrical sparks drop into the vegetation below.”

Between the Camp Fire, and other fires and disasters the company is responsible for causing, it will end up owing $30 billion or more. Even though now allowed to pass those losses onto ratepayers, there just isn’t enough money available to pay all the claims.

So the new worry of the victims of those fires is whether PG&E will have enough cash to be able to pay claims.

PG&E’s Andy Castagnola said the company is “open to discussions with individual plaintiffs and their counsel to better understand their views about their cases and to make the best effort to identify a possible settlement range.”

However, once the Chapter 11 filing is made creditors can no longer go after the company for what they are owed and all lawsuits will likely be put on hold. In other words, the line for what crumbs PG&E has left will be quite long.

One option the company has discussed is to separate the natural gas operation from that providing electricity and then use the cash from that sale to pay the bills and take care of the lawsuits.

But that decision will be made down the road.

Some experts say what PG&E is doing and actually hoping to accomplish is to get out from under a law known as inverse condemnation. That means the company is responsible for all damage caused by its equipment even if it — in good faith — has done required maintenance and it is acts of God that caused the fires, or gas explosions or whatever.

Only the Legislature can change that law. The previous one refused — in spite of efforts by Governor Jerry Brown — to make that change.

That said, newly installed Governor Gavin Newsom and the new Legislature will have to figure out what to do next. It cannot — since power is required in the state’s Northern areas — let the company simply go away. Or does the state move from private owned utilities to those run by government?

The governor has said all options are on the table.

The biggest question — at this point — is whether the company will still provide power and how that will look. Spokesman Steve Malnight said “Employees are going to continue doing their job, and continue to get paid. Our most important responsibility is the safety of our customers and the communities we serve, and nothing that we are announcing today will impact that commitment.”

 

Source links: The Sacramento Bee — link 1, link 2, Insurance Business America, Insurance Journal

 

Tags:  The Impact of PG&E’s Bankruptcy 

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​ Another Look Back at 2018 — Underwriting & More

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

 

 

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCI) and Verisk — a unit of ISO — released a report about the first nine-months of 2018. The biggest positive? The $4.7 billion net underwriting gain.

It is a huge improvement over 2017’s $21 billion loss.

The profits are driven by a decline in overall losses, loss adjustment expenses (LLAE) and a jump in premium growth. The LLAE stats show a 0.5% drop to $310.2 billion. It was pushed by a $13.1 billion drop in the LLAE net from catastrophes.

More from the report:

  Net written premiums leaped 11.4% to $468 billion

  Organic premium growth and changes to reinsurance arrangements are why

  Net investment income rose to $40.9 billion

  That’s up from $35.4 billion

  Dividends from subsidiaries not connected to P&C insurance is why

  Net income after taxes doubled from $22.4 billion in 2017 to $49.5 billion

 

ISO’s president Neil Spector said continued growth continued growth in premiums and investment income led the way.

“As we look forward, catastrophes remain a major consideration, and the full-year industry results for 2018 will likely be affected by the losses from the California wildfires. In the coming years, insurers' underwriting results will critically depend on their ability to acquire and deploy the analytical and technological tools to help automate processes, improve decision making, and reduce costs,” Specter said.

APCI senior vice president Robert Gordon agrees and noted the combined ratio improved to 97.3%. He said the report has lots of positives but also portends challenges for this year and into next.

“However, insurers faced record-setting wildfires and severe hurricanes for the second straight year. Annualized investment return continues to under perform the industry average over the last ten years, and the stock market's precipitous decline in December may be a harbinger of increasing volatility,” Gordon noted. “Insurers are well positioned to provide stability and expanded protection opportunities to consumers in the new year.”

 

Source link: Intelligent Insurer

 

Tags:  2018  American Property Casualty Insurance Association  insurance 2018  The American Property Casualty Insurance Associati  underwriting 

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PIA National — IRS Affirms Pass Through Rate for Agents

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019


Late last week the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Treasury issued final regulations for the so-called Trump Tax Cuts. Insurance agencies are not considered to be a financial service and can take the 20% pass-through tax deduction.

At least the insurance sales part of the business applies. Other services like wealth management, etc. will not likely fit the definition.

PIA National Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Becker calls it a major win for small business. In this case, it is small business as it relates to member insurance agencies and brokerages.

“PIA aggressively advocated for this tax relief for pass-through entities since passage of the tax reform law (P.L. 115-141) in December 2017. We advocated for the language that was passed by Congress, then ultimately adopted by Treasury and the IRS in their regulations,” he said.

Becker said many PIA members own independent insurance agencies organized as sole proprietorships, partnerships, or Subchapter S corporations. They do not pay corporate income tax. Instead, their income “passes through” the firm and appears directly on the owners’ individual tax returns. There it is taxed as normal income.

The 20% deduction, subject to other limitations imposed by law or regulation, will lower these individuals’ tax bills.

Lauren Pachman, Esq. is the PIA counsel and director of regulatory affairs. she said, “PIA was gratified to see that Treasury and the IRS recognize that the typical insurance agent is not engaged in ‘financial services’ in the way Congress described them, allowing agents the opportunity to take the 20% pass-through deduction,” she said. “Also, we’re glad this rule was issued in time for the start of the 2018 tax season.”

That said, PIA National warned — as noted earlier — the Treasury and the IRS declined to issue a categorical exclusion of all services provided by insurance agents from the definition of “financial services.” The rules recognize that some agents do engage in activities like managing wealth, advising clients with respect to finances, etc.

They are considered “financial services” for the purpose of this law.

Source link: PIA National

 

 

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Tags:  PIA National — IRS Affirms Pass Through Rate for A 

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Allianz Survey — Business Worries 2019

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019


 

The survey is called the 2019 Allianz Risk Barometer. It’s an annual look at the worries of business. They range from business interruption to cyber attacks to too many regulations.

This year’s survey went to businesses in the U.S. and Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy and China. The top two worries for the biggest majority of businesses — an equal 37% — are business interruption and cyber incidents.

Allianz spokesperson Marek Stanislawski said this is the seventh year in a row that business interruption topped the list. Cyber attack worries — however — have gained ground in the last couple of years.

“Cyber risk has been a major risk for a number of years, but as with any new risk it has struggled with awareness,” Stanislawski said. “We have now reached a point where cyber is as equally concerning for companies as their major traditional exposures.”

It’s no wonder. Cyber crimes now cost business $600 billion a year. That’s up from $445 billion in 2014. Cyber crimes — Stanislawski noted — are quite costly and often lead to securities and consumer class action lawsuits. There are also third-party liabilities.

Business interruption is still huge because they often lead to product recalls, quality issues, terrorism, political riots and environmental issues.

 

The Most Important Business Risks in 2019

1. Business Interruption

2019 — 37%

2018 — 42% — ranked 1 last year

 

2. Cyber incidents, cyber crime, data breaches, etc.

2019 — 37%

2018 — 40% — ranked 2 last year

 

3. Natural catastrophe like storms, floods, earthquake

2019 — 28%

2018 — 30% — ranked 3 last year

 

4. Changes in legislation, regulations, tariffs, etc.

2019 — 27%

2018 — 21% — ranked 5 last year

 

5. Market developments, intensified competition, M&A, etc.

2019 — 23%

2018 — 22% — ranked 4 last year

 

6. Fire, explosion

2019 — 19%

2018 — 20% — ranked 6 last year

 

7. New technologies

2019 — 19%

2018 — 15% — ranked 7 last year

 

8. Climate change, weather volatility

2019 — 13%

2018 — 10% — ranked 10 last year

 

9. Loss of reputation or brand value

2019 — 13%

2018 — 13% — ranked 8 last year

 

10. Shortage of skilled workforce

2019 — 9%

2018 — 6% — ranked 15 last year

 

Source link: Carrier Management

 

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Tags:  Allianz Survey — Business Worries 2019  Marek Stanislawski 

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Washington Commissioner Kreidler Bans NRA Insurance

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

 

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has banned the sale of illegal insurance policies that carry a National Rifle Association (NRA) brand. He has also issued a fine to two companies selling those policies.

A news release from the commissioner’s office said, “The policies were sold through the NRA’s Carry Guard program and give upfront money to policyholders for covered costs and expenses related to criminal defense for gun owners, even if the insured subsequently pleads guilty to or is convicted of a crime. Washington state law prohibits insurance that covers criminal activity.”

The two companies selling the policies are Illinois Union Insurance — a subsidiary of Chubb — and Lockton Affinity. Illinois Union was fined $102,000 for selling 811 policies and Lockton was tagged for $75,000.

“When it comes to insurance products associated with the NRA, it’s buyer beware,” Kreidler said. “The attempt to insure a criminal act is a rip-off for consumers. The policies sold are deceptive and dishonest. I would be remiss as the state’s insurance regulator if I didn’t shut them down.”

Kreidler said the 811 policies had premiums totaling $260,000. Of those, 255 were cancelled and no claims have been made in Washington State. He also noted Illinois Union has paid less than 1% in claims for every premium dollar in 2017 and 2018.

In April of last year, Kreidler told the NRA to stop selling four Carry Guard liability policies through its website. Those policies were sold by through NRA and the NRA did not have an insurance license.

Both companies have until February 14th to accept the fines or demand a hearing.

 

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

 

Tags:  Washington Commissioner Kreidler Bans NRA Insuranc 

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New Legislatures, a New Congress, the Trump administration & ObamaCare

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 22, 2019


 

Democrats in a number of states are now working on proposals to pump up and save a collapsing ObamaCare. In the PIA Western Alliance states of California and Washington, Governors Gavin Newsom and Jay Inslee are making plans.

Newsom wants to expand Medicaid to people illegally in the U.S. up to the age of 26. He’s also looking at getting a law passed that requires everyone in the state buy health insurance or face a fine. That’s similar to the now done away with Individual Mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

The governor also wants to consolidate the state’s purchase of drugs to — hopefully — lower prescription prices for consumers.

In Washington State, Inslee has proposed a public health insurance option to insure those not covered by Medicaid or private employers, and who cannot afford to purchase a policy. A public health insurance option — for those not knowing — is a government run health insurance company.

Other states — including the PIA Western Alliance state of New Mexico — are looking at public options as well.

In Washington State, House Rep. Eileen Cody — a Democrat — is leading the charge. “Once you give something to somebody, it’s pretty hard to take it away, and I think we see that with how the support for the (Affordable Care Act) has grown over the last two years,” she said.

Inslee agrees. “This is not just a moral right. It is an economic wisdom, and this is very possible.”

Republicans — as you expect — think the idea is expensive and ridiculous. In Washington State Republican Rep. Joe Schmick said, “This is about having the government competing in the private market. Medicare-for-all will be priced out.”

Not to be left out of the let’s make ObamaCare changes, the Trump administration wants to increase premiums by 1% next year. This is part of a 300-page update of regulations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While Democrats will no doubt complain, the administration says this is merely a more accurate premium subsidy calculation.

It is required by the Affordable Care Act.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden — a Democrat — immediately pounced on the decision. “Today’s proposed rule deliberately and needlessly increases premiums and will result in too many Americans losing access to health coverage,” he said. “The Trump administration continues to fan the flames of uncertainty while families pick up the check.”

But the administration adamantly says this will save the taxpayer money. It’s about $900 million a year and 100,000 consumers will then — it is estimated — drop their coverage. That’s coverage no longer required by law.

Source links: Insurance Business America — link 1, link 2

 


Tags:  a New Congress  New Legislatures  the Trump administration & ObamaCare 

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