October 17, 2017

Presidential Executive Order Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States

PROMOTING HEALTHCARE CHOICE AND

COMPETITION ACROSS THE UNITED STATES

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. (a) It shall be the policy of the executive branch, to the extent consistent with law, to facilitate the purchase of insurance across State lines and the development and operation of a healthcare system that provides high-quality care at affordable prices for the American people. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), however, has severely limited the choice of healthcare options available to many Americans and has produced large premium increases in many State individual markets for health insurance. The average exchange premium in the 39 States that are using www.healthcare.gov in 2017 is more than double the average overall individual market premium recorded in 2013. The PPACA has also largely failed to provide meaningful choice or competition between insurers, resulting in one-third of America’s counties having only one insurer offering coverage on their applicable government-run exchange in 2017.

(b) Among the myriad areas where current regulations limit choice and competition, my Administration will prioritize three areas for improvement in the near term: association health plans (AHPs), short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).

(i) Large employers often are able to obtain better terms on health insurance for their employees than small employers because of their larger pools of insurable individuals across which they can spread risk and administrative costs. Expanding access to AHPs can help small businesses overcome this competitive disadvantage by allowing them to group together to self-insure or purchase large group health insurance. Expanding access to AHPs will also allow more small businesses to avoid many of the PPACA’s costly requirements. Expanding access to AHPs would provide more affordable health insurance options to many Americans, including hourly wage earners, farmers, and the employees of small businesses and entrepreneurs that fuel economic growth.

(ii) STLDI is exempt from the onerous and expensive insurance mandates and regulations included in title I of the PPACA. This can make it an appealing and affordable alternative to government-run exchanges for many people without coverage available to them through their workplaces. The previous administration took steps to restrict access to this market by reducing the allowable coverage period from less than 12 months to less than 3 months and by preventing any extensions selected by the policyholder beyond 3 months of total coverage.

(iii) HRAs are tax-advantaged, account-based arrangements that employers can establish for employees to give employees more flexibility and choices regarding their healthcare. Expanding the flexibility and use of HRAs would provide many Americans, including employees who work at small businesses, with more options for financing their healthcare.

(c) My Administration will also continue to focus on promoting competition in healthcare markets and limiting excessive consolidation throughout the healthcare system. To the extent consistent with law, government rules and guidelines affecting the United States healthcare system should:

(i) expand the availability of and access to alternatives to expensive, mandate-laden PPACA insurance, including AHPs, STLDI, and HRAs;

(ii) re-inject competition into healthcare markets by lowering barriers to entry, limiting excessive consolidation, and preventing abuses of market power; and

(iii) improve access to and the quality of information that Americans need to make informed healthcare decisions, including data about healthcare prices and outcomes, while minimizing reporting burdens on affected plans, providers, or payers.

Sec. 2. Expanded Access to Association Health Plans. Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Labor shall consider proposing regulations or revising guidance, consistent with law, to expand access to health coverage by allowing more employers to form AHPs. To the extent permitted by law and supported by sound policy, the Secretary should consider expanding the conditions that satisfy the commonality?of-interest requirements under current Department of Labor advisory opinions interpreting the definition of an “employer” under section 3(5) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The Secretary of Labor should also consider ways to promote AHP formation on the basis of common geography or industry.

Sec. 3. Expanded Availability of Short-Term, Limited?Duration Insurance. Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services shall consider proposing regulations or revising guidance, consistent with law, to expand the availability of STLDI. To the extent permitted by law and supported by sound policy, the Secretaries should consider allowing such insurance to cover longer periods and be renewed by the consumer.

Sec. 4. Expanded Availability and Permitted Use of Health Reimbursement Arrangements. Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services shall consider proposing regulations or revising guidance, to the extent permitted by law and supported by sound policy, to increase the usability of HRAs, to expand employers’ ability to offer HRAs to their employees, and to allow HRAs to be used in conjunction with nongroup coverage.

Sec. 5. Public Comment. The Secretaries shall consider and evaluate public comments on any regulations proposed under sections 2 through 4 of this order.

Sec. 6. Reports. Within 180 days of the date of this order, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor and the Federal Trade Commission, shall provide a report to the President that:

(a) details the extent to which existing State and Federal laws, regulations, guidance, requirements, and policies fail to conform to the policies set forth in section 1 of this order; and

(b) identifies actions that States or the Federal Government could take in furtherance of the policies set forth in section 1 of this order.

Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,

October 12, 2017.

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Prospects of a Civil War…..With Bullets

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Open Thread – 16th Day, 10th Month, 2017

Please use this open thread to post your ideas, information and comments about issues not covered in articles published on this website. Thank you.

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Thousands of penguin chicks starve in Antarctica

WHY? OH, WHY?

Must be the global warming, or……

“Mass starvation has wiped out thousands of penguin chicks in Antarctica, with unusually thick sea ice forcing their parents to forage further for food in what conservationists Friday called a “catastrophic breeding failure”.<<<Read More>>>

But never fear you who swallow the fable of global warming. As you might have guessed it, the “unusually thick sea ice” was caused by “…climate change has taken its toll, with shifting ice reducing habitat while warming seas affect their prey.”

Follow along here because this is extremely difficult to comprehend. Warming seas, caused by anthropogenic climate warming, is the cause of “unusually thick sea ice.” Damn that global warming!!! You just can’t beat it!

In addition, we are told that thousands of penguins were the victims of “starvation.” But “conservationists” say it was a “catastrophic breeding failure.” So which was it?

Warming sea water causes thicker ice and starvation is caused by a failure to breed. Hmmmm…..

Got it.

 

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Today’s Insanity: “Works of the Flesh Are Manifest”

*Editor’s Note* – I continually hear people voice their astonishment of what they are seeing in this country and around the world. It is often described as unbelievable, out of control, disgusting, scary and I regularly call it what it is – insanity. Why is this happening? Paul clearly tells us in the below passage from Galatians 5: 13-26. There is no other explanation.

Galations 5

13 For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty: only use not your liberty as an occasion unto the flesh, but by love serve one another.

14 For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, which is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

15 If ye bite and devour one another, take heed lest ye be consumed one of another.

16 Then I say, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to another, so that ye cannot do the same things that ye would.

18 And if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the Law.

19 Moreover the works of the flesh are manifest, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, wantonness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, debate, emulations, wrath, contentions, seditions, heresies,

21 Envy, murders, drunkenness, gluttony, and such like, whereof I tell you before, as I also have told you before, that they which do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [emboldening added]

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperancy: against such there is no law.

24 For they that are Christ’s, have crucified the flesh with the affections and the lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another.

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Panel: Bipartisan Bills Enhance ESA Protections, Boost Hydropower Reliability

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 12, 2017 –

Today, the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a legislative hearing on H.R. 3144 (Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA) and H.R. 3916 (Rep. Ken Calvert, R-CA), the “Federally Integrated Species Health Act” or “FISH Act,” bills to improve the recovery of Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed fish while providing certainty for water and power users.

Clearly, the ESA process is broken and the status quo isn’t working for species, farmers and ranchers and rural communities that depend on our natural resources. Under the status quo, American taxpayers and ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the West spend literally billions of dollars each year resulting from conflicting or duplicative federal regulatory or judicial edicts under the guise of the ESA. These bills represent bipartisan, pragmatic solutions,” Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) said.

The current hydropower system along the Columbia-Snake Rivers is held hostage to litigation and unpredictable federal rulings that could impose tens of millions of dollars on taxpayers and Pacific Northwest ratepayers with little additional benefit to endangered salmon. H.R. 3144 creates a more reliable and cost-efficient regulatory framework by providing federal agencies that operate Northwest hydropower dams with statutory clarity in the enforcement of the ESA, in line with a collaborative plan deemed scientifically sound by the previous two administrations, several states, tribes, utilities, ports and other stakeholders.

The dams of the Columbia-Snake River system are multipurpose in that they provide hydropower, flood control, navigation, irrigated agriculture and recreation. The benefits of the dams cannot be measured by megawatts alone but in the overall value they provide the region,” United Power Trades Organization President Jack Heffling stated. “[Keeping the current federal plan] continues the programs that have proven extremely successful in migrating fish survival.”

“Eighty percent of PNGC’s power supply comes from the Bonneville Power Administration… PNGC values the clean, carbon free, flexible hydropower resources that BPA provides,” PNGC Power President and CEO Beth Looney stated“If BPA’s rates continue to climb at their current trajectory, they will likely not be competitive with alternative power supply choices in the region at that time… as an electric cooperative, we have a responsibility to supply power to our members at an affordable rate whether that comes from Bonneville or elsewhere.”

The four dams along the Snake River produce enough renewable energy to power 1.8 million homes annually or the equivalent of two nuclear, three coal-fired or six gas-fired power plants.

Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation Alan Mikkelsen expressed support to reduce litigation and refocus resources on the current operation plan while working towards “a quality long term [Federal Columbia River Power] System solution.”

The need to balance the ongoing operations of the [Federal Columbia River Power] System and achieving compliance with environmental laws is what H.R. 3144 seeks to achieve,” Mikkelsen added.

H.R. 3916, a concept supported by President Obama in 2011,  also eliminates redundancies and regulatory confusion across federal agencies related to ESA enforcement.

H.R. 3916  is [an] important step in reducing wasted time and money and represents a practical, common-sense change… that we strongly support,” Executive Director of the Family Farm Alliance Dan Keppen stated. The FISH Act provides an opportunity to enhance protections to threatened and endangered species by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government’s approach to species protection through better decision-making.

[SOURCE]

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Open Thread – 13th Day, 10th Month, 2017

FILTHY, INSANE MESS

Please use this open thread to post your ideas, information and comments about issues not covered in articles published on this website. Thank you.

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Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Forms New Legislative Action Group

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) recently announced that it is forming the Institute for Legislative Action. This is not a new concept as many organizations have done this. However, it should help SAM when it comes to legislative work that needs to be done. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I would like to offer SAM some advice. Sometimes SAM becomes a bit provincial, catering to members only. An example of this is in my request for email notifications from SAM but can’t get them unless I am a member. This makes no sense at all.

To be forthcoming, I am not a member of SAM and have no intention to become a member of SAM, mostly because I am not a member of anything and am not beholding to anything or anyone except myself. I do, however, have interest in what SAM is doing and often write about it.

Which leads me to the other issue. I understand SAM having a Facebook presence. Yet, the entire world does not revolve around Facebook, although many in the world seem to think so. I do not “do” Facebook, nor do I ever intend to go back there. Facebook has it’s good points, although I am at a loss to think of any. I am not alone in this denial and refusal to be a part of another fascist, dictatorial entity controlling and spying on everything I do.

When SAM makes announcements and releases letters, news, etc., and posts it on Facebook, non members of Facebook are prohibited from viewing it. In the past, I have published some information I get from SAM members who forward the information.

As an outdoor writer, I cannot visit SAM’s Facebook page to glean for news and events. I am relegated to their website page, which brings me to another issue. SAM’s website has relevant and good information on it but is lacking in the same bits of activity and announcements that can be found on Facebook.

Having once been a part of Facebook and having a website of my own, it’s a simple task to set up your website to do all the things you want to appear on Facebook. This requires establishing an area on the website (a simple blog page would work) where all of this information is entered. Settings in Facebook allow a member to automatically publish whatever appears on this website page, on the organization’s Facebook page.

This way, I and thousands more of us that choose not to be a part of Facebook or members of SAM, can visit the website and read information SAM has made available only on Facebook. This is a big win for everybody and should be done immediately. SAM should understand that by not excluding non members from obtaining relevant and live information can only lead to more membership and better public relations.

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Bishop’s Bill, Not Yet Visible to Public, on Antiquities Act

Congressman Rob Bishop has introduced a bill, H.R. 3990, that, we are told, is intended to curb the authority of the sitting president to declare national monuments in a willy-nilly fashion. Will it? I don’t know. The bill has been introduced but the public has yet to be able to see any of the wording of the bill.

Below are press releases and statements made by others about the CAP Act.

Subcommittee Chairmen Respond to Antiquities Act Reform Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 10, 2017 –

Tomorrow, the Committee will markup H.R. 3990, the “National Monument Creation and Protection Act” or “CAP Act.” Introduced by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bill protects archeological resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the executive’s use of the Antiquities Act.

“The Constitution gives to Congress alone the jurisdiction over public lands. While the executive should be able to move swiftly to protect small archeological sites from imminent threat of looting or desecration, the decision over whether to set aside vast portions of land in perpetuity should only be made after the lengthy debate, public input and accountability that are the unique attributes of the legislative branch,” Subcommittee on Federal Lands Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said. 

“Our government works best when it works with the people it serves to accomplish objectives for the common good. For too long, our leaders have not adhered to these principles. The ‘National Monument Creation and Protection Act’ seeks to protect the public’s interests from executive overreach through collaboration with local stakeholders, comprehensive review of monument designations and congressional direction on any future presidential monument reductions. I thank Chairman Bishop for his leadership on this issue and look forward to passage of this important legislation,” Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) stated.

“When Teddy Roosevelt created the Antiquities Act, his intent was to set aside unique areas of land, not to cutoff millions of acres for the federal government to control that produces no revenue or benefit – all while hurting local governments. Through the years, the abuse of this power has snowballed to a point where President Obama designated more acreage during his Presidency than all other Presidents combined. This process unfairly eliminates local input altogether and severely limits the public’s access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities as well as reasonable resource development on their public lands. It is important that the decision to designate or expand national monuments is returned to Congress, where the local citizens and communities can have a say,” Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Chairman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said.

“This legislation secures a future for locally supported national monuments, checked executive authority, and empowered local governments. The original intent of the Act is upheld and strengthened with measures that bring us into the twenty-first century. I firmly believe this will provide the accountability we need when it comes to protecting our lands,” Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) stated.

“Regardless of political affiliation, presidents on either side of the aisle shouldn’t be able to create massive new national monuments by executive fiat without local public input. It is, after all, the people living near these national monuments that are most affected by their creation. Our nation’s public resources are best managed when the people that use those lands are intimately involved in the process. Chairman Bishop’s ‘National Monument Creation and Protection Act’ protects private property rights and empowers local stakeholders while also including important clarifying definitions that should have been included in the original law. I am grateful for his strong leadership on this issue and am proud to be a cosponsor,” Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said.

Bishop Statement on Antiquities Act Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 10, 2017 –

On Monday, Chairman Bishop announced the introduction and markup of the H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act (CAP Act). He released the following statement

“The 1906 Antiquities Act was originally intended as an executive tool to protect historical and archeological artifacts and structures under threat. Regrettably, this worthy goal has been manipulated for ulterior political purposes. Today the Act is too often used as an excuse for presidents to unilaterally lock up vast tracts of public land without any mechanism for people to provide input or voice concerns. This is wrong.  

“This legislation provides for accountability in the Act’s uses. It modernizes the law to restore its intent, allowing for the protection of actual antiquities without disenfranchisement of local voices and perspectives. It standardizes and limits the president’s power to reshape monuments.

“If my colleagues are serious about their calls for accountability under this Act – no matter which party controls the White House – they will support this bill.”

Committee Passes Legislation to Require Transparency, Public Input in Antiquities Act

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2017 –

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 3990, the “National Monument Creation and Protection Act” or the “CAP Act.” Introduced by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bill protects archeological resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the executive’s use of the Antiquities Act.

“Congress never intended to give one individual the power to unilaterally seize enormous swathes of our nation’s public lands… Our problem isn’t President Obama or President Trump. It’s the underlying law – a statute that provides authority to dictate national monument decisions in secrecy and without public input. The only path to the accountability we all seek – no matter which party controls the White House – is to amend the Act itself,” Bishop stated.

“Under this new, tiered framework, no longer would we have to blindly trust the judgement or fear the whims of any president. The bill ensures a reasonable degree of consultation with local stakeholders and an open public process would be required by law. It strengthens the president’s authority to protect actual antiquities without the threat of disenfranchising people.

“Ultimately, if enacted, it will strengthen the original intent of the law while also providing much needed accountability.”   

Click here to view Chairman Bishop’s full opening statement.
Click here to view full markup action.
Click here for more information on H.R. 3990.  

 

 

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Open Thread – 12th Day, 10th Month, 2017

Self-Flying Commercial Jets? What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Please use this open thread to post your ideas, information and comments about issues not covered in articles published on this website. Thank you.

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