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February 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

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Excerpt from Peggy Noonan piece in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal on Chris Christie (New Jersey governor)

February 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

If nothing else, one has to give New Jersey Gov. Christie a lot of credit for his bravado.  Here is an account from a Peggy Noonan article in last Saturday’s WSJ of his appearance at the state firefighters convention last September.

Chris Christie introduced pension and benefit reforms on a Tuesday in September, and that Friday he went to the state firefighters convention in Wildwood. It was 2 p.m., and “I think you know what they had for lunch.” Mr. Christie had proposed raising their retirement age, eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment, increasing employee pension contributions, and rolling back a 9% pay increase approved years before “by a Republican governor and a Republican Legislature.”

As Mr. Chrisie recounted it: “You can imagine how that was received by 7,500 firefighters. As I walked into the room and was introduced, I was booed lustily. I made my way up to the stage, they booed some more. . . . So I said, ‘Come on, you can do better than that,’ and they did!”

He crumpled up his prepared remarks and threw them on the floor. He told them, “Here’s the deal: I understand you’re angry, and I understand you’re frustrated, and I understand you feel deceived and betrayed.” And, he said, they were right: “For 20 years, governors have come into this room and lied to you, promised you benefits that they had no way of paying for, making promises they knew they couldn’t keep, and just hoping that they wouldn’t be the man or women left holding the bag. I understand why you feel angry and betrayed and deceived by those people. Here’s what I don’t understand. Why are you booing the first guy who came in here and told you the truth?”

He told them there was no political advantage in being truthful: “The way we used to think about politics and, unfortunately, the way I fear they’re thinking about politics still in Washington” involves “the old playbook [which] says, “lie, deceive, obfuscate and make it to the next election.” He’d seen a study that said New Jersey’s pensions may go bankrupt by 2020. A friend told him not to worry, he won’t be governor then. “That’s the way politics has been practiced in our country for too long. . . . So I said to those firefighters, ‘You may hate me now, but 15 years from now, when you have a pension to collect because of what I did, you’ll be looking for my address on the Internet so you can send me a thank-you note.'”

The National Association of Health Underwriters’ 2011 Capitol Conference in Washington, DC

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Some industry colleagues of mine attended the National Association of Health Underwriters’ 2011 Capitol Conference in Washington, DC at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill from February 14th-16th.  They were in, I believe, the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill when they met up with Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren.  Below is a picture of them with Greta.

Front Row L-R:

Brian Murray, DuPage Association of Health Underwriters
Greta Van Susteren, Fox News Channel
Mike Deagle, Northern Illinois Association of Health Underwriters

Back Row L-R:

John Heinz, Northern Illinois Association of Health Underwriters
Greg Smith, Central Illinois Association of Health Underwriters
Sarah McGrath, Chicago Southland Association of Health Underwriters

Accredited Investment Fiduciary® Designations Awarded to John Garven and David Schlossberg, Principals of BenAssured, Ltd.

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

John Garven and David Schlossberg, Principals of BenAssured, Ltd., have each been awarded the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF) designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies.

Read more at http://bit.ly/eW9WxS.

House GOP Votes To Defund Healthcare Law

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Politico (2/19, Nather) reported, “The House voted Friday to block funding for the healthcare law in several ways — starting the countdown to the defunding clash with Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama. As expected, lawmakers approved Rep. Denny Rehberg’s amendment to the continuing resolution, which bars all payments to ‘any employee, officer, contractor, or grantee of any department or agency’ to implement the law.” Rehberg’s amendment specifically targets HHS and the Labor Department. In addition, GOP lawmakers “gave unexpected victories to Steve King of Iowa, approving broader measures to deny any implementation funds in the continuing resolution and block salaries to enforce the entire law.”

CQ Today (2/19, Weyl, subscription required) quoted Rehberg, “chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees” HHS, as saying, “This amendment can slow but not completely stop the process. … I’ve tried everything within my power to write an amendment that would completely defund implementation, yet withstand a point of order.” CQ noted that “debate echoed arguments lawmakers have made over the last two years. Republicans charged the law is an unconstitutional government takeover of healthcare and a budget-buster, while Democrats blasted attempts to eliminate consumer protections, such as allowing individuals with pre-existing conditions access to health coverage.”

The Hill (2/19, Pecquet) reported in its “Healthwatch” blog, “The continuing resolution faces high hurdles in the Democrat-controlled Senate. And President Obama announced he ‘strongly opposes’ it before the new amendments even passed.” In fact, the Administration stated, “If the president is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the president will veto the bill.”

The Wall Street Journal (2/19, Zibel, Kendall, subscription required) also reported on the vote to defund the healthcare law, and pointed out that, for the most part, lawmakers voted along party lines. Reuters (2/19, Cowan, Ferraro) also covered the story.

The North American Blizzard of 2011

February 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

They’re calling it the “North American Blizzard of 2011”.  I believe the official measurement in my community was 21 1/2 inches of the white stuff!

In any event, following is an amazing photo of the blizzard from a NASA satellite.

Representative Price Sponsors Amendment to Budget Bill to Prevent Implementation of MLR Provisions

February 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Georgia Representative Tom Price, M.D., proposed an amendment to H.R. 1, a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through the remainder of the fiscal year, that would prevent the implementation and enforcement of the medical loss ratio (MLR) requirements in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The Price Amendment, Amendment 409, is scheduled for 10 minutes of debate today.

Rep. Mike Burgess (R-TX) has sponsored an amendment to de-fund the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight that oversee the Medical Loss Ratio rules. This amendment is expected to be debated today as well.

The House has already voted on several additional amendments that attempt to de-fund implementation efforts. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) introduced Amendment 575 to cut off funds to federal workers, officials, contractors to implement the law. That amendment passed 239-187. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduced Amendment 267, prohibiting the funding of any implementation of the law, which passed on a 241-187 vote. A second amendment by Rep. King, Amendment 268, prohibiting the funding of any salary of any official to implement the law passed on a 237-191 vote. Amendment 83, sponsored by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) to prohibit the IRS from enforcing the individual mandate passed in a 246-182 vote.

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