Sunday, May 31, 2015

FW Newsletter: Obamacare Premiums set to go up by double digits


ObamaCare Premiums Set to go up by Double Digits
- by Patrick Roux

The proposed Obamacare premium rates for 2016 are likely to see many double digit increases from the largest providers. The states with the largest average increases, as proposed, are New Mexico (51%), Tennessee (36%), Maryland (30%), and Oregon (25%). The final rates will be lower, but they may very well remain in the double-digits because insurers are seeing their first full year of claims data from ObamaCare’s exchanges, and the pool of insurance consumers on the exchanges are tending to be older and sicker than they were hoping to see.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services originally projected that for the exchanges to be financially stable; at least 40% of those enrolling in health care must be ages 18-35. So far, that figure is only 28%. But, as opponents of ObamaCare have been predicting for years, healthier and younger people have little incentive to join the exchanges because ObamaCare passes so much of the cost of more expensive patients onto them. Read more here...

Rand Paul's Latest Stand Has Brought Another Chance for Real Surveillance Reform
- by Josh Withrow

The past week has seen an epic, historic struggle on the Senate floor over the line between the surveillance state and Americans' 4th Amendment rights. Senator Rand Paul and a handful of reform-minded colleagues from both parties are continuing to block any effort to let the government mass surveillance authorities be renewed without strong protections for Americans' right to due process.

Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which has been used to justify the mass collection of data on millions of Americans, is set to expire on midnight on Sunday, May 31st. In spite of the abuse of this authority revealed by NSA whistleblowers, and in spite of the fact that the intelligence committee admits that bulk collection of data is of limited usefulness, surveillance advocates in the Senate have tried to insist upon just reauthorizing Section 215 without any reform.  Read more here...


FreedomWorks Update via Matt Kibbe: NSA and ObamaCare
- by Trey Grover

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Better Late than Never: Chris Christie Turns on Common Core
- by Logan Albright

Say what you will about Republican governors, eventually they catch on. Well, most of them do, anyway (I’m looking at you, Jeb.)The latest addition to the ever-expanding number of governors turning against Common Core education standards is New Jersey’s own Chris Christie

In a recent speech, Christie spoke about a desire to wrest power “away from the bureaucrats in Washington, DC” when it comes to education, arguing that New Jersey should be able to create its own standards to suit its residents. Christie’s conversion is admittedly tempered by his calling for standards that are “even higher” than Common Core, but at least he recognizes how badly things go wrong when you put the feds in charge of state issues. Read more here...

Governor Snyder Wants Smart Justice Reform for Michigan 
- by Michael Greibrok

This week Governor Snyder announced his priorities to reform Michigan’s justice system in a speech made at Goodwill Industries, a company that helps train and employ former prisoners. The governor stressed his reforms are not about being weak on crime, rather, they are about creating a smart justice system.

The state’s prison budget stands at $2 billion and this represents between 20-25% of the state’s general fund. At a cost of $35,000 a year to house a prisoner, any reduction in the prison population would leave more for funds for programs like education and transportation, or provide an opportunity to lower taxes. Read more here...

Texas continues to pass meaningful justice reforms that will ease cost burdens on taxpayers
- by Jason Pye

Doug Deason is a successful businessman from Dallas, Texas, whose life could have turned out much differently. When he was 17, Deason, who was raised in a wealthy family, and his friends raided a liquor cabinet at a neighbor's home. He was arrested, plead to a misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge, and sentenced to probation.

He completed the sentence required by the court and, due to his family's financial standing, was able to have his record expunged. "Every time I filled out an application for college, a loan, a mortgage, employment, etc.," Deason told members of a Texas Senate committee in April, the Dallas Morning News reports, "I never had to 'check the box' and it reminds me of how blessed I am that I was granted the opportunity to redeem my life." Read more here...

Hawaii Healthcare Exchanges on the Hook for millions 
- by Patrick Roux

In March, the state of Hawaii was notified that it was out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act because its Health Connector – the state-run insurance exchange - wasn’t financially stable at the outset of the year. Plagued by technical difficulties, a lack of enrollment, and higher-than-expected costs, Hawaii’s exchange is in danger of becoming the latest to fail, which would force the state to default to the federal exchange website.

Already, the federal government has restricted grant money to Hawaii and will be taking over the state exchange’s IT functions to allow residents to enroll in coverage through the Federal marketplace. Governor David Ige is negotiating with the Federal Government to release the grant money and avoid closure of the Hawaii marketplace. Read more here...

The Ex-Im Bank Has Got to Go
- by Trey Grover


McConnell Promises Vote on Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank Soon
- by Josh Withrow

Congress can officially pencil another issue into a full June calendar – reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Senator McConnell confirmed last week that he will bring Ex-Im reauthorization to the floor before the end of June as part of his deal to pass the fast-track trade bill on Friday.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank, an 80-year old entity that gives a majority of its loans and loan guarantees to a small number of well-connected corporations, is set to expire on June 30th. Given the bank’s market-distorting function, and given its proven history of cronyism and corruption, the best and easiest thing Congress could do is to simply let its charter expire. Read more here... 

Obamanet could be the next Obamaphone
- by Erin Aitcheson

Proponents call it necessary for bridging a societal gap. Opponents call it wasteful and beyond the point of reform. Call it what you like, the long-running controversial “Obamaphone” debate has once again been ignited. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has announced a proposal to extend the Lifeline phone subsidy program, better known as the “Obamaphone,” to now cover the internet.

The program finds its roots during the Reagan era and was created by President Reagan to serve the purpose of providing discounts for basic phone services. Fast forwarding to 2007, in addition to landline services, the FCC began allowing the subsidies for cell phones and prepaid wireless providers under President George W. Bush. During this time, the number of program participants skyrocketed from 7 million in 2008 to 17 million in 2012. The number dropped to 12 million last year when the FCC attempted to make reforms against misuse and duplication of program participants. Read more here...

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Iris Somberg 
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