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5 years ago · by · 0 comments

Wanna play golf?

Scurich Insurance Services

Come on out and join us for a great cause!

Scurich Insurance Services has proudly served the Monterey Bay area since 1924.  Scurich will take care of all of your insurance needs.  Are you a business owner, did you get a new car or maybe you are looking to protect your family in the event of a tragedy?  Give us a call, we can help!

We are located at:

Scurich Insurance Services

320 East Lake Avenue, PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170
Office: 1-831-722-3541
Toll Free: 1-800-320-3666

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5 years ago · by · 0 comments

A Farm Bill Bait and Switch

The 2013 Farm Bill presents a real opportunity for substantive changes in U.S. agricultural policy. But instead of reform, both the House and Senate agricultural committees are offering classic bait-and-switch proposals to protect farm subsidies – more than 80 percent of which flow to households much wealthier than the average American family.

As I discuss in my new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the bills’ bait is the elimination of the politically toxic Direct Payments program, introduced in 1996, which annually sends about $5 billion in welfare checks to people who own or farm cropland – whether or not they grow any crops. The switch is the introduction of new programs that would give farmers even larger subsidies if either crop prices or average per-acre crop revenues decline from their current record or near-record levels.

In the House farm bill, price supports, through a new Price Loss Coverage program, are the preferred subsidy vehicle. The PLC would establish target prices close to the current near-record market prices for crops like corn, wheat, rice, peanuts and oilseeds. Farmers would then receive payments when market prices fall below those target levels.

Peanut and rice farmers stand to benefit especially from the PLC. The bill’s proposed peanut target price, for example, exceeds any of the Congressional Budget Office market price forecasts for the next five years. While the PLC may indeed benefit Southern-state farm industries, it appears to have little semblance to the “save the family farm” safety net program claimed by its advocates.

The Senate’s farm bill would put taxpayers on the hook for a new program that triggers subsidies when a farmer’s revenues for major crops fall below 88 percent of their recent five-year average. And both the House and Senate farm bills would require taxpayers to cover 70 percent of the costs of a new insurance program to give farms additional “double dip” subsidies if their revenues fall below 90 percent of expected levels.

CBO estimates the new farm subsidy programs will cost about $3.5 billion a year. In fact, several independent studies have shown that if crop prices drop, even quite modestly, American taxpayers will be shelling out far more for these new programs than the $5 billion in claimed savings for the elimination of the Direct Payments program. If crop prices shift towards longer-run historical levels, taxpayers could face an estimated $16 to $20 billion in new farm subsidy costs. That’s a lot of money, and most of it would go to the wealthiest farmers, corporations and landowners in the farm sector.

Most impartial observers would likely conclude there is no valid financial case for federal farm subsidies and special farm safety nets. Farm debt-to-asset ratios are at record lows, prices for major crops are at or close to record highs, and family farms almost never fail (annually, only one in every 200 farms closes its doors because of financial problems). In fact, farming is one of the most profitable and financially secure sectors of the economy.

Both the House and Senate farm bills ignore real reforms, and instead attempt to fool taxpayers with bait-and-switch proposals for new subsidies. Those new programs will give most of their subsidies to America’s most successful and wealthiest farmers and landowners.

And while reforms are necessary, it is more than ironic that the same House Farm Bill schedules substantial cuts to nutrition programs targeted to relatively poor families while continuing, and even increasing, six-figure government handouts to thousands of millionaire corn, peanut, wheat, soybean and rice farmers.

Scurich Insurance Services

Scurich Insurance Services has proudly served the Monterey Bay area since 1924.  Scurich will take care of all of your insurance needs.  Are you a business owner, did you get a new car or maybe you are looking to protect your family in the event of a tragedy?  Give us a call, we can help!

We are located at:

Scurich Insurance Services

320 East Lake Avenue, PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170
Office: 1-831-722-3541
Toll Free: 1-800-320-3666

Information provided by:  http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2013/06/17/congress-appears-unlikely-to-cut-subsidies-for-wealthiest-farmers

 

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5 years ago · by · 0 comments

Obamacare Delay? What Obamacare Delay?

When the Obama administration said it would delay the health reform law’s requirement that employers insure their workers or face a fine, its critics began to wonder what else might get delayed. The law’s big new piece of infrastructure—the online insurance marketplaces scheduled to go live Oct. 1—involves coordinating a massive trove of information technology and a ton of personnel training. So the doubters, reveling in the recent bad news, have begun casting doubt on the whole enterprise.

Not so fast. The employer mandate was one of many ancillary provisions—not critical to Obamacare’s central mission—that the administration has jettisoned in its race to build the exchanges in time. But signing people up for new insurance plans and giving them tax credits to do so is the main idea. It will take a major calamity for the administration to delay this crucial piece of the law. The exchanges may not work smoothly in the early months, but the administration will hit the deadline, says Dan Schuyler, a director at Leavitt Partners, a consultancy helping states build their exchanges. “Worst-case scenario: October 1, all exchanges open up.”

Administration officials are repeating earlier promises of an on-time launch. “The marketplaces will be ready,” Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said Thursday in a typical statement. “We are on schedule with the testing that began in October 2012. Any discussion to the contrary is pure speculation.” And while administration officials didn’t hint at problems with the employer system until the surprise delay, the marketplaces are different. The core goal of the Affordable Care Act is to bring health insurance to those who don’t have it, and the law’s long-term success will be judged on how many new people get covered. That’s a reality with both practical and political consequences, and the people setting it up know that. “There will be a Web portal, and there will be call centers, and they will enroll people in products and put them on tax credits,” says Cindy Gillespie, senior managing director at McKenna Long & Aldridge. “That’s going to happen. How smoothly the eligibility process works? Who knows. But it will be made to work.”

Building the exchanges has proven a heavy lift. To make them work, the federal government needs not only a consumer-facing website and call centers stocked with customer-service representatives in 34 states but also a brand-new, complex IT structure to make the system work across the country. The law says that when an applicant enters her information online, various federal agencies must validate her income, citizenship status, residency, and eligibility for Medicaid. The portal must also connect to the Veterans Administration, the Defense Department, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Peace Corps. Plus, it needs to communicate with every health plan selling insurance in each state.

It’s still unclear just how ready these digital systems will be on Day One and how much is already being done to mitigate the inevitable glitches. The administration has remained tight-lipped about the operational details. That has frustrated states and insurers, both of which need to connect to the new under-construction system. “From where I sit, it’s hard to monitor their progress on the data hub, because it is a black box until it either works or doesn’t work,” says Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health and a former official at the Office of Management and Budget.

Indeed, a Government Accountability Office report last month said that while HHS had been hitting internal IT milestones, the volume of work to be completed was too large for GAO to assess the likelihood that systems would work in time. “Whether … contingency planning will assure the timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges by October 2013 cannot yet be determined,” according to the report. States and health plans have begun testing some data exchange with the federal hub. But states have been testing “clean” data, meaning that every name is spelled perfectly and every Social Security number is entered correctly. Ultimately, the data hub will need to identify people and their information even with typos and errors.

Still, while the public deadline is Oct. 1, HHS and its contractors will realistically have a little extra time to fix IT problems. The insurance plans won’t go live until January, leaving a cushion if parts of the system have to default to paper, or if delays arise in processing applications. Cheryl Smith, a senior practitioner at Deloitte, worked on the Utah small-business health exchange, which launched in 2009. Before the open-enrollment deadline, “I had holes in my stomach,” she says. “We got to that day and I realized, this is not really the launch.” As long as the website goes live in October and people have new insurance plans in January, the administration will have kept its key promises.

In the meantime, administration officials and their allies are working to get the word out about the new systems. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters this week she would be in a new city nearly every week this summer explaining the exchanges. Television ads are running, and smaller, targeted outreach efforts have launched. That’s a big job, too, because most people without insurance don’t know what Obamacare offers them. The better these outreach efforts work, the greater the imperative to launch on time.

Scurich Insurance Services

Scurich Insurance Services has proudly served the Monterey Bay area since 1924.  Scurich will take care of all of your insurance needs.  Are you a business owner, did you get a new car or maybe you are looking to protect your family in the event of a tragedy?  Give us a call, we can help!

We are located at:

Scurich Insurance Services

320 East Lake Avenue, PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170
Office: 1-831-722-3541
Toll Free: 1-800-320-3666

Information provided by:  http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/obamacare-delay-what-obamacare-delay-20130711

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5 years ago · by · 0 comments

Want an iPad? Enter here to win one!

You read that right, Scurich Insurance Services is giving away a brand new iPad!  Just sign up!

All you have to do is fill out our simple survey and you will instantly be entered into our promotion drawing.

If that link does not work, please cut and paste this URL into your browser: http://aom.imms.com/promotions/startpage.aspx?id=120

Keep in mind that there is no obligation to enter our promotion and you must live in California to enter. You will not receive any spam marketing from us.

Enter today and win.

Scurich Insurance

Scurich Insurance Services has proudly served the Monterey Bay area since 1924.  Scurich will take care of all of your insurance needs.  Are you a business owner, did you get a new car or maybe you are looking to protect your family in the event of a tragedy?  Give us a call, we can help!

We are located at:

Scurich Insurance Services

320 East Lake Avenue, PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170
Office:
1-831-722-3541
Toll Free:
1-800-320-3666

Read more

5 years ago · by · 0 comments

Hiker breaks Pacific Crest Trail speed record

Three days into his quest to break the Pacific Crest Trail’s speed record, Josh Garrett collapsed of heat stroke in the dry, desolate landscape of Southern California’s San Felipe Hills.

Dehydrated and exhausted, the 30-year-old Santa Monica, Calif. resident had real doubts about his ability to complete the 2,655-mile trail from Mexico to Canada in less than 60 days.

“I started shivering in the 100 degree heat,” said Garrett, a physiology professor and cross-country coach at Santa Monica College. “I took 24 hours off and really didn’t think I could continue. Needless to say, I’m glad that I didn’t stop.”

Garrett powered through that moment and continued across one of the world’s most spectacular trails at warp speed, eating up 45 miles per day as he crossed from California to Oregon to Washington.

At 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, he reached British Columbia and the trail’s end after a total of 59 days, 8 hours and 59 minutes. It was the fastest time in the trail’s history, breaking the record set just two days earlier by Heather “Anish” Anderson of Bellingham, Wash., who completed the hike in 61 days and about 17 hours.

The previous record was set in 2011 by Scott Williamson of 64 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes.

While the record is informal — no official group tracks the marks — Jack Haskel of the Sacramento-based Pacific Crest Trail Association said he had no reason to doubt Garrett, Anderson or Williamson’s times.

Garrett did the entire trek on a vegan diet as a way to raise awareness about cruelty to animals.

“No matter how painful it was, I always kept in mind that it’s nothing compared to what animals go through at factory farms. This trip was all about them,” Garrett said. “I wanted to stress that a vegan diet gives you everything you need for this kind of endeavor.”

Garrett said his pack averaged about 15 pounds and that a support vehicle resupplied him with food at places where the trail reached the road. His pack bulked to about 30 pounds during the longest and most difficult stretch in the High Sierra Mountains of Northern California, where he went about 200 miles and five days without being able to replenish his supplies.

He started on the trail around 6 a.m. each day and, without stopping for lunch or snacks — eating food as he walked — continued until around 1 a.m.

“I’d usually turn the headlamp on at 9:30 p.m. go into dark for about four hours,” Garrett said. “That was the graveyard shift. I’d usually get three to four hours of sleep. The thing that really surprised me was how well the body adapts to the load you place on it.”

On the best days, Garrett hiked over 50 miles and said he got stronger as time progressed. There wasn’t much time to stop and smell the roses, but he said he did enjoy the scenery as he hiked.

The final six weeks took a toll on his feet – “I haven’t had a pain-free step in over six weeks,” he said – but kept moving with the knowledge that Anderson was just a few days ahead of him and was likely to break the old record.

When the finish line came into view, on the Canadian border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia, he sprinted to the finish line and into the arms of his girlfriend.

“It was a great moment,” he said, “and I just cried. I’d been thinking about that moment for such a long time.”

“More than anything, I just feel relieved to know that I don’t have to race off tomorrow morning to hike 50 miles until 2 a.m. in the morning. It really feels good.”

Scurich Insurance

Scurich Insurance Services has proudly served the Monterey Bay area since 1924.  Scurich will take care of all of your insurance needs.  Are you a business owner, did you get a new car or maybe you are looking to protect your family in the event of a tragedy?  Give us a call, we can help!

We are located at:

Scurich Insurance Services

320 East Lake Avenue, PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170
Office:
1-831-722-3541
Toll Free:
1-800-320-3666

Information provided by:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2013/08/12/pacific-crest-trail-hiking-record/2642917/

Zach Urness, Salem Statesman Journal 3:03 p.m. EDT August 12, 2013

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5 years ago · by · 0 comments

Businesses claim Obamacare has forced them to cut employee hours

Employers around the country, from fast-food franchises to colleges, have told NBC News that they will be cutting workers’ hours below 30 a week because they can’t afford to offer the health insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“To tell somebody that you’ve got to decrease their hours because of a law passed in Washington is very frustrating to me,” said Loren Goodridge, who owns 21 Subway franchises, including a restaurant in Kennebunk. “I know the impact I’m having on some of my employees.”

Goodridge said he’s cutting the hours of 50 workers to no more than 29 a week so he won’t trigger the provision in the new health care law that requires employers to offer coverage to employees who work 30 hours or more per week. The provision takes effect in 16 months.

Luke Perfect, who has worked at Goodridge’s Kennebunk Subway for more than a decade, said it was “horrible” to learn he was among the employees whose hours would be limited, and that it would be a financial hardship. “I’m barely scraping by with overtime,” he said.

The White House dismisses such examples as “anecdotal.” Jason Furman, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, said, “We are seeing no systematic evidence that the Affordable Care Act is having an adverse impact on job growth or the number of hours employees are working. … [S]ince the ACA became law, nearly 90 percent of the gain in employment has been in full-time positions.”

But the president of an influential union that supports Obamacare said the White House is wrong.

“It IS happening,” insisted Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which has 1.2 million members.  “Wait a year. You’ll see tremendous impact as workers have their hours reduced and their incomes reduced. The facts are already starting to show up. Their statistics, I think, are a little behind the time.”

In a letter to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, Hansen joined other labor chieftains in warning that the ACA as presently written could “destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the middle class.”

NBC News spoke with almost 20 small businesses and other entities from Maine to California, and almost all said that because of the new law they’d be cutting back hours for some employees – an unintended consequence of the new law.

At St. Petersburg College, a public university in Florida where most of the faculty is part-time, 250 have had their hours reduced for the fall term because the college said it can’t afford to offer them health insurance.

St Petersburg’s president, Dr. Bill Law, said providing health care for the 250 adjunct professors would cost more than $777,000 dollars a year. “The cost associated with making a part-timer benefits-eligible really is not available to us as a public college,” said Law.

“I don’t think anyone [passed the law] so they could make our life worse,” said Law. “They did it because people need access to health care.”

Part-time math professor Tracey Sullivan said she will lose half her income because of the cuts.

“I never thought it would impact me directly,” said Sullivan. “I was stunned when I got the email…I love teaching at St. Pete College but that is a significant cut.”

Many businesses are reluctant to talk about cutting hours for fear the public will view them as stingy or uncaring about their workers. But Goodridge said that many small businesses have very small profit margins and that while he already provides health insurance to senior employees, offering health insurance to many more workers would require him to pass a significant price increase on to his customers.

“The consumer only has so much money in their pocket,” he said. “I just don’t feel, knowing my customers and knowing my business, now is the time to be raising prices.”

In July, the administration announced that it had delayed implementation of the “employer mandate,” which was supposed to take effect on Jan. 1. Now businesses with more than 50 workers will not be penalized for failing to offer insurance to full-time employees until Jan. 1, 2015.

Goodridge has given his Subway employees a reprieve until he hears more from the administration, but still plans to make cutbacks before the mandate kicks in. And other businesses that had already planned cuts have not necessarily delayed them. St. Petersburg college officials said they don’t want to undo the cuts they’ve already made only to revisit them next year.

While the small businesses and the union agree there’s a problem, they disagree about the appropriate solution.

Some businesses want to raise the threshold to 40 hours. But Hansen said 40 hours would be a “gift to employers” that would simply allow them to continue to skirt the law by cutting workers off at 39 hours. Instead, Hansen and other union leaders have proposed lowering the threshold to 20 hours. They have also objected publicly to a tax provision of the ACA that impacts the health plans they already offer to some union members.

“We still support the act,” said Hansen. “It does an awful lot of good things. We just want the administration and Congress, if they can, to fix it.”

Scurich Insurance

Scurich Insurance Services has proudly served the Monterey Bay area since 1924.  Scurich will take care of all of your insurance needs.  Are you a business owner, did you get a new car or maybe you are looking to protect your family in the event of a tragedy?  Give us a call, we can help!

We are located at:

Scurich Insurance Services

320 East Lake Avenue, PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170
Office:
1-831-722-3541
Toll Free:
1-800-320-3666

Information provided by:  http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/13/.UgsB7W6O8RU.email

By Lisa Myers and Carroll Ann Mears

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Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

Physical:
783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

Mailing:
PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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