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Posts tagged ‘Sandy Fitzgerald’

Latest Obamacare Debacle Stuns Insurers, Market Shares.

Image: Latest Obamacare Debacle Stuns Insurers, Market Shares

By Sandy Fitzgerald and Cathy Burke

The Obama administration‘s decision to allow people whose insurance has been canceled to buy “catastrophic plans” or avoid buying insurance altogether is causing howls of protest from the health insurance industry and a dip in market shares on Wall Street.

Thursday’s surprise announcement came just four days before the Dec. 23 deadline for Americans to choose coverage that will begin on Jan. 1, reports The Washington Post.

ObamaCareYou Can Win With The Facts

“This type of last-minute change will cause tremendous instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers,” Robert Zirkelbach, spokeman for American’s Health Insurance Plans, told the Post.

Within hours of the announcement, several insurers’ shares, which had been up in early trading started to drop on Friday, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Aetna Inc.  Cigna Corp.,  and Humana,  all of which have significant roles in the Obamacare marketplaces, all marked slight downgrades of less than 1 percent.

Meanwhile, two other major Obamacare insurers, WellPoint and UnitedHealth Group Inc. went up by about 1 percentage point.

Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans warned Thursday that “this type of last-minute change will cause tremendous instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers.”

Lawmakers are also speaking out about the change.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., once again demanded a delay for Obamacare for everyone, saying the latest exemption shows the healthcare law is not working, and changes in the system should not be based on Obama’s “random impulses,” reportsBloomberg.

And Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that the “sad reality” is that fewer people will have coverage under Obamacare than were covered a year ago.

“Rather than more White House delays, waivers and exemptions, the administration should provide all Americans relief from its failed law,” Upton said in an email to Bloomberg.
However, the Obama administration insists that allowing people to buy catastrophic coverage or opt out altogether is the right, fair thing to do.

“This is a common sense clarification of the law,” said Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. “For the limited number of consumers whose plans have been canceled and are seeking coverage, this is one more option.”

The policy change went out in a letter to Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who had asked the administration Wednesday if people whose plans were cancelled could qualify to be exempted from having to buy insurance, reports The Hill.

Two of the senators, Landrieu and Shaheen, are expected to face tough races in their 2014 re-election bids. Landrieu has been distancing herself from Obamacare for some time, andcriticizes Obama in her first campaign commercial over his handling of the new healthcare law rollout as she begins her re-election fight in Louisiana for a fourth term.

And in October, Shaheen called on the White House to extend Obamacare’s open enrollment period amid efforts to fix glitches plaguing the government’s health insurance exchange website

All five Democrats issued a statement Thursday to say they’re pleased with the changes.
“This clarifies an option that will help those consumers who have had their plans cancelled this year transition more smoothly into the marketplace,” the senators said.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the new rule means that consumers whose insurance has been cancelling for not meeting federal standards enforced under Obamacare can buy cheaper “catastrophic” coverage if their new out-of-pocket costs are too high.

Previously, the coverage was only available for buyers under the age of 30. Now, everybody can apply for the same hardship exemption younger policy buyers enjoy.

The Obama administration says the change is expected to affect fewer than a half-million people, Bloomberg reports. Insurers fear the exemptions will keep younger, healthier people from buying insurance plans, which could cause problems down the line when it comes to keeping plan prices from climbing.

But California alone has already reported that more than 1 million insured people received letters telling them they are losing their policies.

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts 

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Palin: Duck Dynasty Firing Endangers Free Speech.

Image: Palin: Duck Dynasty Firing Endangers Free Speech

By Sandy Fitzgerald

“Intolerants” are “hatin'” on “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says, complaining that his suspension from his family’s reality show is an attack on all Americans.

“Free speech is an endangered species,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday beneath a picture of herself posing with the A&E Network‘s reality stars. “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

On Wednesday, the cable network suspended Robertson indefinitely from its top-ranked show after he compared homosexuality with bestiality in an interview with GQ Magazine.

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Robertson told the magazine — in anatomical terms — that being with a woman “would be more desirable” for a man. “She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

He went on to say that “neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

A&E on Wednesday said that the network is “extremely disappointed” in Robertson’s comments, emphasizing that its series Duck Dynasty do not reflect his opinions.

Palin and the Duck Dynasty family, including Robertson, have gotten close in recent weeks. They hosted the one-time vice-presidential nominee in Louisiana to help her promote her bestseller “Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas,”reports Breitbart,  and she has been quoted as being “happy, happy, happy” that her children believe the Duck Dynasty family is “cooler” than she is.

Meanwhile, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Wednesday called Robertson’s suspension “ridiculous” while calling for “cultural conversation” instead of intimidation through restricting free speech.

Suggesting that people who hold to what every branch of the Christian faith has held to for 2,000 years is somehow bigoted or hateful is not productive for speech,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said.

“Silencing views one doesn’t agree with, rather than engaging them, is hardly open-minded.”

Further, Moore pointed out that A&E hired Robertson to be “comedic and sometimes shockingly homespun.” He admitted he found Robertson’s anatomical comments “ill-advised and crude, but that doesn’t seem to be where the controversy lies.”

But instead of suspending Robertson, Moore said on his blog, “why not engage one another, and have the debates in a civil fashion, without attempting to silence one another? Let’s have the sort of cultural conversation that allows us to seek to persuade each other, not to seek to silence one another with intimidation. That’s what real diversity is all about.”

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