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4 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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4 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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4 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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Company information

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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(831) 661-5697

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