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Walt Bernard Podgurski,  Editor,  440-773-1108, 

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Editorial Mission Statement: The goal of this publication is to provide readers a broad selection of what is being written about the insurance industry and related issues. Some articles may have a “tilt” towards a particular perspective one way or another. Inclusion in this newsletter is not an endorsement of any views or content; but report the various and differing views appearing in media.
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Trump Is Being Vague About What He Wants to Replace Obamacare. But There Are Clues.
The three leading G.O.P. health care proposals all involve block grants. Those plans are hard to square with the president’s promises to lower premiums and deductibles.
By Margot Sanger-Katz / New York Times

The Graham-Cassidy bill

The president has spoken fondly several times about this proposal, which did not have enough support in Congress to advance to a vote. It would eliminate current programs funding Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which covers the working poor, and insurance subsidies helping low- and middle-income Americans buy their insurance. Instead, that money would be grouped together, then parceled out to states to use in the service of health care programs they favor.

The legislation attaches some rules to how the money can be used — it must go toward health care, for example — but its main goal is to provide states with maximum flexibility to develop local and innovative solutions. (Some experts worry that states could struggle to develop such plans on the bill’s abbreviated timetable.)

That flexibility would allow states, if they so chose, to waive Obamacare’s rules that plans must cover a standard set of medical benefits, and that insurers must charge the same prices to customers with different health histories. It would be easy for states to circumvent current protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. That ability would be at odds with the president’s recent promises to protect such rules.

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Legislation Mandating 401(k) Contributions Introduced

A pair of Senate Democrats, one of whom is a 2020 presidential candidate, introduced legislation on April 4 that would require businesses to pay at least 50 cents into an employee’s retirement savings plan for every hour worked.

Noting that 3 in 10 workers lack access to a workplace retirement plan and that 4 in 10 adults do not have enough liquid savings to pay a $400 emergency expense, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced legislation that calls for a hybrid emergency savings and 401(k)-type government-run program. Klobuchar is seeking her party's nomination to run for president.

Under the “Saving for the Future Act,” which is similar to the UK’s National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), the first $2,500 in savings would go to a worker’s “UP-Savings” account to be used for non-routine expenses, while contributions above that level would go to a worker’s “UP-Retirement” account, according to a summary of the bill.

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Must-win Ohio declines to join Trump effort to overturn Obamacare
David M. Drucker / Washington Examiner

Ohio, a red-leaning presidential battleground state, is opposing a lawsuit President Trump backs that would invalidate Obamacare, signaling the difficulty he faces trying to resurrect the issue for the campaign.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, says the lawsuit's success would do unacceptable harm to his state.

“We’ve got 1.9 million, nonelderly Ohioans who have preexisting conditions. If this exercise in judicial activism in Texas holds, it’s going to impact my state. Those people are going to be left without insurance coverage for those preexisting conditions,” Yost told the Washington Examiner. “The way I explain this to people is, we’ve got a tumor, the patient has a tumor, you cut out the tumor; you don’t kill the patient.”

Nancy Pelosi urges caution on 'Medicare for All,' says Obamacare is best path to 'quality, affordable' health care
Ashley Turner / CNBC

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an interview with The Washington Post challenged a health-care proposal touted by many Democrats, questioning if the "Medicare for All" bill will be able to supply as much coverage as the Affordable Care Act.
Pelosi's cautionary comments on Medicare for All come after President Donald Trump reignited the health-care debate when the Department of Justice supported a federal judge's ruling that the ACA, also known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional.
Pelosi said she believes the path to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is the ACA.

Pinterest: Traditional insurance 'was letting us down'
Kayla Webster / ebn

Pinterest has joined a growing rank of employers who are fed up with the healthcare system and doing away with traditional insurance models as a result.

The social media platform switched from their traditional healthcare plan to a self-funded model provided by Collective Health, a San Francisco-based healthcare and benefits company, at the start of 2018. Pinterest executives — who just made public the change — say the company made the switch because they were frustrated with their previous provider’s prices and services.

“Nobody remembers how good health benefits are on paper, but everyone remembers what the experience is like,” says Alice Vichaita, head of global benefits at Pinterest. “Despite all our effort and thoughtfulness, the traditional health insurance experience was letting us down.”

Pinterest isn’t the only employer to seek out alternatives to the traditional healthcare system. Last year, Amazon partnered with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to form an independent healthcare company — Haven — to serve their collective 1.2 million U.S. employees. And last year, the Colorado city of Arvada contracted with Paladina Health to restructure its benefit offerings to be self-insured. Pinterest adopted the practice to stay competitive in the hunt for talent.

BDO Alliance USA Becomes Financial Management Group’s Exclusive Provider
National Alliance Teams Up With FEI

Orlando Florida, April 4, 2019 – The Financial Engineering Institute is pleased to announce their selection as the preferred provider of accounting and consulting services for The Financial Engineering Institute’s (FEI) network of over 2,200 wealth management firms.

“We are excited to add the BDO Alliance USA to our Expert Sourcing Team,” said FEI President and Managing Partner, Nick Gregory, ChFE, CEBA, ChFWA. “Accounting and consulting services are a necessity when it comes to comprehensive financial management. BDO Alliance USA’s national presence and the experience and knowledge of their member firms make them a natural fit for our team.”

BDO Alliance USA Executive Director, Michael Horwitz, added, “To achieve the wealth management goals of a family or business and remain fully compliant, you have to assemble a great team. We are honored to join FEI’s Expert Sourcing Team.”

With this announcement, the BDO Alliance USA joins an arsenal of best-of-breed expert sourcing firms to provide services to FEI’s network of wealth management firms, investment and insurance advisors and attorneys across the nation. The result is the fusion of advanced knowledge, experience, services, and products with sound engineering principles to create a synchronized hub for family and business wealth building.

The BDO Alliance USA is a nationwide association of independently owned local and regional accounting, consulting and service firms with similar client service goals. The BDO Alliance USA presents an opportunity for these firms, by accessing the resources of BDO USA, LLP and other Alliance members, to expand services to their clients without jeopardizing their existing relationships or their autonomy. The BDO Alliance USA was developed to provide Member firms with an alternative strategy for gaining competitive advantage in the face of a changing business landscape. The Alliance represents an opportunity for BDO to enhance relationships with reputable firms that share a mutual business understanding. The BDO Alliance USA is a subsidiary of BDO USA, LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership. For more information, visit https://www.bdo.com/about/bdo-alliance-usa

The Financial Engineering Institute (FEI), headquartered in Orlando, FL, serves over 2,200 wealth management firms, investment and insurance advisors and Attorneys across the nation. FEI helps these professionals harmonize the complex wealth of families and businesses through the organization’s WealthEngineeringTM Process. FEI is also the governing body and grantor of the Chartered Financial Engineer (ChFE) professional designation. For more information about The Financial Engineering Institute, visit https://www.thefei.com/ or call 407.878.3520.

Medicare 4 All from an Health Insurance Agent
by Andrew Bennett / Insurance That Fits

There is some talk about selling across state lines. Unless, the coverage is vastly different then a policy in Iowa is probably not going to have substantially different premiums than a policy in Kansas. Some politicians carry on about how each state needs the flexibility to determine its own coverage rules. The way I see it the human body needs pretty much the same care in Tennessee as it does in California. Some men get prostate cancer, some people have broken their foot in a snow sledding accident, some people have torn (dissected is the medical term) arteries, others get pregnant, others have gall bladder issues. All these things require healthcare. All these things happen in each and every state. All these things should be covered.

What I do not support is re-inventing Medicare into a single payer system. Medicare is not now, nor should it ever be single payer. It does not fit our economic culture. Given that Bernie Sanders is out there talking about creating a single payer Medicare for all system this may be news to some. Medicare is also not socialized medicine. Socialized Medicine is where the government owns the hospitals, owns the labs, owns the MRI and CT machines, and all the doctors and support staff are on the government payroll. That’s not what Medicare is, it is not what Medicare should be.

If you want to see market driven healthcare, if you want to see everyone have coverage, if you want to see deeper risk pools, if you want to see cost effective health insurance…Medicare has to be part of the answer. It works and it fits the economic culture we have in this country. After than we can actually start to tackle the cost of healthcare and not just health insurance.

As an addendum I would also suggest that Medicare could be split off from the government for those who are afraid of government healthcare. It could be set up as a simple non-profit mutual insurance company or a non-governmental organization like the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). There is no “magic” in any organization being inside or outside government. We always have to be vigilant to spot corruption and abuse no matter the organizational structure. So regardless of if Medicare stays with the government, becomes a stand alone not-for-profit mutual insurance company, or adopts a TVA like organizational structure having one major unified risk pool will drive down the cost of insurance.

Health insurance: Nevada wades into nationwide debate about association health plans
Jason Hidalgo, Reno Gazette Journal
Published 4:00 a.m. PT Nov. 23, 2018

For many small businesses, the rising cost of insurance is akin to death and taxes. It's one of life’s certainties.

With many of its small members struggling with the high cost of health insurance, the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce decided to take matters into its own hands. By pooling its membership as one big bloc, the chamber says it is able to offer its own discounted insurance through a product known as an association health plan. The organization is one of six Nevada business associations that started offering their own association health plan to member companies starting this year.


Monday, 04/01/19 - Judge strikes down Trump’s small-business health insurance plan

Tuesday, 04/02/19 - Employers don't understand the 'black box' behind rising drug prices, and are fed up

Wednesday, 04/03/19 - Association health plan ruling could result in thousands losing coverage

Thursday, 04/04/19 -
Americans Borrowed $88 Billion to Pay for Health Care Last Year, Survey Finds

Friday, 04/05/19 - OneDigital Health and Benefits Acquires Northwestern Benefit in Biggest Acquisition in Company History

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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor