Gas prices jump 10 cents after Trump exits Iran deal

Florida gas prices shot up 10 cents in a week for the costliest fill-up since November 2014, with Palm Beach County’s average leading the state at $2.92 per gallon.

Gasoline prices are relatively unchanged over the last week.

The pump prices reflect a rise in the cost of oil after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and markets anticipated sanctions will limit the amount of Iranian oil in the global supply, analysts said.

That makes the average tank cost about $7 more than it did a year ago in Florida, heading into what is expected to be the busiest Memorial Day driving season in 12 years, according to motorist group AAA. More than 41 million drivers are projected to hit the road during the holiday weekend that kicks off the unofficial start of summer, up 5 percent over last year.

A strong economy has many motorists planning to travel, but drivers increasingly may find budgets pinched for “other expenses like shopping and dining out,” said AAA/The Auto Club Group spokesman Mark Jenkins.

Gas costs nearly 50 cents more per gallon in Florida than it did a year ago.

That’s still well below a high of $4.08 in 2008, but represents a considerable increase over the past 12 months.

Prices can vary more than 40 cents per gallon within the same city, so drivers not blessed with unlimited budgets may find it worthwhile to pay attention.

In West Palm Beach, prices Sunday ranged from $2.72 at Cumberland Farms on Cresthaven Boulevard to $3.19 at Texaco on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, according to price-tracker GasBuddy.

In Delray Beach, the spread ran from $2.77 at Murphy USA on Military Trail to $3.24 at Mobil on S. Federal Highway.

In Palm Beach Gardens, prices ranged from $2.75 at Sunoco on PGA Boulevard to $3.19 at Shell on the same road.

In Royal Palm Beach, costs varied from $2.70 at Marathon on Okeechobee Boulevard to $3.09 at Exxon and Chevron stations in the village, according to GasBuddy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Majority of Trump supporters say make Obamacare work, poll says

Three out of four voters, including 51 percent of Republicans, say President Trump and Congress should make the Affordable Care Act work for now rather than make it fail so they can replace it later, according to poll results released Tuesday.

Sixty-one percent say Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress are responsible for any problems with Obamacare going forward, compared to 31 percent who say it’s the responsibility of former president Obama and Democrats in Congress because they created the law, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll.

Donald Trump

Still, 80 percent of Republicans think Trump eventually will be able to deliver on his promise that Americans will get better care at a lower cost. Only 8 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of all voters think that.

In any case, the situation is not standing still while legislators decide. GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted Tuesday about Iowa’s largest insurer leaving the Obamacare marketplace in 2018: “Now more than ever, you deserve a system that offers more choice, more competition, and lower prices.”

Trump tweeted Sunday, “Talks on Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare are, and have been, going on, and will continue until such time as a deal is hopefully struck.”

A House Republican replacement plan, which had 17 percent support in a different poll, failed to find enough votes in March. Big insurers in the Florida marketplace including Florida Blue and Molina met with Gov. Rick Scott a week ago. Molina has urged Congress and the administration to provide assurances about maintaining “cost-sharing” subsidies and enforcing the mandate to buy insurance as companies decide in coming weeks whether to participate in 2018.

Poll details: Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, it was said to be conducted from March 28 to April 3 among a “nationally representative” random digit dial telephone sample of 1,203 adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (422) and cell phone (781). Margin of sampling error: plus or minus 3 percentage points.

 

 

Trump: Obamacare repeal ‘coming along great’ despite uproar

President Trump predicted Thursday that a GOP health care overhaul “will end in a beautiful picture,” but advocacy groups warned of ugly spikes in costs for millions of Floridians, from older consumers to working families with modest incomes.

“Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great,” Trump tweeted. “We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!”

The full effects are still being analyzed in a bill not yet scored by the Congressional Budget Office. It passed a second House committee Thursday on a party-line vote after 27 hours of debate.

The Affordable Care Act helps consumers with more than just tax credits to help make insurance premiums less costly, advocates said. For example, more than 1.1 million Floridians, or 73.5 percent of those in Affordable Care Act marketplace plans, receive cost-sharing assistance to help cover things like co-pays and deductibles, officials with the group Families USA said.

President Trump

A family of three making $30,000 faces a $442 deductible under the current program, but if assistance goes away, the family’s out-of-pocket costs could skyrocket to $6,128, said Lydia Mitts, the group’s associate director of affordability.

The House GOP bill “could lead to people seeing a huge spike in their cost sharing,” Mitts said.

The proposed overhaul encourages health savings accounts, but that mostly helps higher-income earners and is not realistic for those on modest incomes or, say, people fighting cancer, advocates said.

“Health savings accounts are simply not a viable solution to meet the needs of cancer patients and survivors,” said Shelley Fuld Nasso, chief executive officer at the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. “You cannot plan ahead for a cancer diagnosis to put money in a savings account. If families don’t have extra income, then a health savings account is useless.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the House bill “a work in progress” but “it already is much better than Obamacare.”

But it isn’t better for seniors, particularly those 50 to 64, said AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond.

The House bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act, “would make health care less secure and less affordable for older Americans,” she said. It would dismantle “age rating” rules so insurers could charge older people more, she said.

The Palm Beach Post reported some older consumers on modest incomes would see certain benefits cut in half. A 60-year-old Palm Beach County resident making $20,000 a year could expect tax credits up to $7,990 to help pay for health coverage in 2020 under the Affordable Care Act, but that would be trimmed to $4,000 under the House rewrite. That potentially means a consumer of modest income now has to pay about $4,000 more out of on her own pocket each year.

The GOP plan potentially benefits taxpayers, people who don’t want the government to force them to buy insurance and some ACA marketplace consumers who get no financial assistance now because they make too much money.  Some better-off older consumers could come out ahead: A 60-year-old making $100,000 in Palm Beach County who gets no help now could see a $1,500 tax credit, the Kaiser Family Foundation calculated.

On balance, the bill hurts seniors, LeaMond said.

“Although no one believes the American health care system is perfect, the American Health Care Act is not the answer,” she said.

An AARP web ad strikes out at the overhaul effort below:

NEW on Trumpcare: See who gains, who loses in PB Co. by age, income

People with higher incomes in Palm Beach County stand to gain thousands of dollars each year in government help to pay for health insurance, while subsidies for those with lower incomes will be slashed up to 50 percent under a GOP House bill, research released Tuesday shows.

For example, a 60-year-old county resident making $20,000 a  year would get $7,990 in tax credits in the year 2020 under the Affordable Care Act but would see that cut to $4,000 under the House bill, the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation calculated.

President Trump

Others largely shut out by the current law will get a boost. A 27-year-old Palm Beach County resident making $50,000 who gets no financial assistance under Obamacare will enjoy a $2,000 tax credit, while a 40-year-old making the same salary could get $3,000, the group found.

“If you make income above 400 percent of the poverty level, or about $48,000, you’re better off under this bill,” said Gary Claxton, a Kaiser Family Foundation vice president. “Generally, the lower-income people are worse off.”

The plan’s designers called it an important first step forward.

“Following President Trump’s direction, our legislation provides tax credits to help Americans pay for the health-care options they want—not the ones forced on them by Washington,” said U.S. Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Kevin Brady, R-Tex.

A national consumer advocacy group rejected the plan as a step backward.

“If the goal of this legislation was actually to improve access to care and drive down costs, they completely missed the mark,”  said Laura MacCleery, vice president of policy and mobilization for Consumer Reports. “This legislation would leave millions of Americans unable to purchase insurance, and leave those who are able to with paltry coverage.”

Trumpcare in Palm Beach County 

Health insurance will become more expensive for lower-income people in Palm Beach County in the GOP House bill compared to the Affordable Care Act. Higher-income people will gain annual tax credits designed to make premiums more affordable in these examples for the year 2020. About two out of three individuals buying ACA marketplace policies make less than $32,000 now, and close to half reported incomes under $20,000.

Age     Income          ACA tax credit               House bill tax credit

27         $20,000       $2,500                              $2,000

27         $50,000       $0                                     $2,000

27         $100,000    $0                                       $0

40        $20,000       $3,250                              $3,000

40        $50,000       $0                                       $3,000

40       $100,000      $0                                      $500

60        $20,000       $7,990                               $4,000

60       $50,000        $3,840                              $4,000

60       $100,000      $0                                       $1,500

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

 

Price: ‘Very close’ on Obamacare replacement; advocates see steps back

Trump administration health chief Tom Price said officials  are moving closer to consensus on a plan to replace Obamacare, while advocacy groups warned Thursday that GOP proposals need proper transparency and analysis ahead of committee action as early as next week.

“I think we’re getting very, very close,” Health and Human Services Secretary Price said Wednesday night on Fox News’s Special Report with Bret Baier. “There’s unanimity on the principles, and now we’ve got to get down to the specifics.”

HHS  Secretary Tom Price
HHS Secretary Tom Price

Baier questioned how much consensus there really is, noting an uptick in polling popularity for the Affordable Care Act as some consumers fear losing what they have compared to a replacement plan whose details have yet to be hammered out.

On Thursday, Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports,  warned about plans to hold full committee markups on Affordable Care Act repeal efforts, reportedly planned for next week, before proper analysis can be conducted.

“Changes to the Affordable Care Act will have a dramatic impact on millions of Americans,” said Consumer Reports vice president Laura MacCleery,  “Something of this magnitude should not be rushed or hastily pushed through the legislative process. Americans deserve a thorough, fully transparent review of any ACA replacement plan — including hearings with expert testimony, a Congressional Budget Office score, and a reasonable amount of time for all members to carefully review and consider new legislation.”

The principles behind  an overhaul seem to include health savings accounts that let consumers set aside money tax-free to pay for health costs, and tax credits that help those with higher incomes, not just individuals making up to about $48,000  and families of four up to $97,000. About nine in 10 Florida consumers buying ACA marketplace plans get subsidies, but those who make too much money to qualify for subsidies have often felt unfairly hammered and left out.

But the bottom-line effect of leaked and previously proposed GOP plans is to make lower-income folks pay sometimes  hundreds of dollars more each month for health costs, putting it out of reach for many, said officials with the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Families USA.

“People making millions of dollars get the same credit as someone making less than $12,000,” said Lydia Mitts, associate director of affordability for Families USA, in a conference call Thursday.

She said seven in 10 families have less than $1,000  in savings, so boosting help to those with higher incomes and a better ability to save is a “backwards  approach,” she  said.

Florida and its Obamacare customers have the most to lose of any state in the country — more than $5.2 billion — if Congress reduces or kills subsidies that make monthly health premiums more affordable, according to a study The Palm Beach Post wrote about in December.

Price said, “We’ll work through this and make it happen.”