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Steve Plummer is 2012-2013 Agent of the Year

June 19th, 2013 | News

Steve Plummer accepting the award from 2011-2012 Agent of the Year, Mark Suhr

On Wednesday, June 5th 2013, Steve Plummer of Plummer Insurance was awarded 2012-2013 Agent of the Year by the Professional Insurance Agents Association for Nebraska & Iowa (PIA).  The award is intended to recognize an agent who is a trailblazer and significant asset to the insurance industry and has also shown to be a remarkable community leader.

Steve has been an agency owner since April, 1984, when he and his wife, Helen, purchased the agency from Eldon R Evers.  Since then, he has grown the agency to its nine-member staff (seven full-time), and has significantly expanded the services the agency offers.

In addition to his exemplary management and ownership skills, Steve is also very involved in the community. He has served over ten years on the Bridgeport City Council, currently serving as Council President.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Nebraska Sports Council and the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation.   He is an active member of the Bridgeport Lions Club, Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce, Camp Clark #285 Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite, Shrine Club, American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, and the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church.  In addition to his involvement with those organizations, he is constantly monetarily giving to local groups and charities, as well as volunteering his time to others.

The Professional Insurance Agents Association for Nebraska & Iowa (PIA) is a membership-based professional trade association representing Nebraska and Iowa’ s independent insurance agents and their employees.  Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Omaha, NE, PIA Association for Nebraska & Iowa is affiliated with the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, located in Alexandria, Virginia. National PIA was founded in 1931 to represent professional, independent property/casualty insurance agents.

Putting the ‘Insurance’ Back in Health Insurance

May 25th, 2012 | News

Pharma & Healthcare | 5/21/2012 @ 12:55AM | Avik Roy, Contributor, Forbes

We understand that it would make no sense to buy auto insurance after we’ve already crashed our car. We appreciate that it would be strange to buy homeowner’s insurance after our house has already burned down. And yet, when it comes to health coverage, many of us think that it makes perfect sense to wait until we’re sick to buy health insurance. If we really want to make health insurance affordable and accessible to everyone, we need to go back to basics, and understand all of the government-induced distortions that have made health insurance look nothing like actual insurance.

The point of insurance, of course, is to pool the risks of a group of people as a mechanism for protecting against uncertain financial loss. If 100 people pool their risks together and the home of one of them burns down costing $100,000, each person ends up paying around $1,000: a hundred thousand divided by 100, plus the overhead costs associated with administering the scheme.

But there’s a twist. Let’s say one of the homeowners lives in a neighborhood where the frequency of arson is high. Let’s say another homeowner lives in an arson-free neighborhood, with a fire station next door. Should these two homeowners pay the same $1,000 for their insurance? The second homeowner would call that a bad deal for him, and would ordinarily refuse to participate, unless the insurance premiums were adjusted so that he paid less, while the first homeowner paid more.

The adjustment of health insurance premiums, based on the risks of each policyholder, is called medical underwriting. In nearly all types of insurance, without underwriting, insurance would be prohibitively expensive. If the price of insurance for low-risk individuals is unfairly high, the low-risk types will sit on their hands, and only high-risk individuals will buy insurance. Because high-risk individuals have higher average costs, the costs of premiums will go up: a process called adverse selection.

Adverse selection is a serious problem. According to the U.S. Census, 55 percent of Americans without health insurance are under the age of 35. 72 percent are under the age of 45. It’s these generally healthy people, in the first halves of their lives, who elect to go without insurance, because it is far too expensive, relative to their current health status. Older Americans are much more likely to be insured, because they get a great deal: the cost of their insurance is heavily subsidized by the young.

How government policies create adverse selection

Thanks to a number of unwise policies adopted by state and federal governments in the United States, adverse selection is a huge problem in American health insurance. Let’s go through these policies.

Community rating. Community rating provisions prevent insurers from varying premiums on the basis of a policyholder’s age, gender, or health status. For example, Massachusetts in 1996 enacted a law requiring that insurers charge their oldest customers only 2 times what they charge their youngest ones. Obamacare imposes a similar 3:1 rating band based on age, and prohibits insurers charging different rates based on health status.

The problem is that the oldest individuals in the private market (those younger than 65), on average, spend six times as much on health care as the youngest ones do (those older than 18). Hence, 3:1 community rating forces the youngest people to pay 75 percent more for insurance, so that oldest people can pay 13 percent less.

Above is a simplified illustration of how community rating causes adverse selection. In the first bar, there is a classically underwritten distribution of insurance costs: the 18-year-old pays $800 in premiums, and the 64-year-old pays $4,800: six times as much. Then, in the second bar, 3-to-1 community rating is imposed, which redistributes the cost of premiums. Now, 18-year-olds must pay $1,400 for insurance—a 75 percent increase—so that 64-year-olds can pay 13 percent less.

When a young person’s average annual health expenditures are $700 a year, and he is asked to pay $800 a year for insurance, it’s a reasonable deal. But when that same person is asked to pay $1,400 a year for his $700-a-year expenditures, it’s an unreasonable deal. You can’t blame young people for balking at that offer. If 50 percent of the young people drop out of the insurance pool, but all of the older people stay in, you get the third bar, in which adverse selection drives up—by 17 percent—the average premium costs for the people remaining in the insurance pool.

What’s telling in the above illustration is that, after adverse selection, the oldest policyholder ends up paying more than he would have under free-market underwriting: $4,900 instead of $4,800. A government policy aimed at forcing young people to subsidize premiums for the elderly ends up driving up costs for everybody, including the very elderly people it was designed to help.

Guaranteed issue. For the same reason, forcing insurers to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions drives premiums upward. If you know you can buy insurance after you’re sick, you have every incentive to drop out of the system now, and wait until you’re sick to buy insurance.

Benefit mandates. Coverage mandates also create adverse selection. For example, some states force all plans in a state to cover acupuncturists and chiropractors. Others force insurers to cover substance abuse treatment and smoking cessation programs. Lobbyists convince state legislatures to adopt these mandates, in order to enrich their service-providing clients. If you’re a drug addict, it’s a great deal. If you’re not, it’s another reason for you not to bother buying insurance.

The typical benefit mandate adds 4 percent to the cost of an insurance plan. According to a study by Victoria Bunce of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, 106 new insurance mandates were enacted by the states in 2011. Rhode Island and Virginia lead the nation with 70 mandates each, as of 2011. Idaho and Alabama are last, with 13 and 19 mandates, respectively.

Other benefit mandates are financial, such as Obamacare’s requirement that all plans sold on the new exchanges have a “minimum actuarial value” of 60 percent. This means that insurers must cover more of your care, which means that premiums need to be higher. Young, healthy people have little interest in such plans.

Any willing provider. “Any willing provider” mandates restrict the ability of insurers to exclude certain doctors and hospitals from their networks. If insurers have to work with everyone, they lose some of their negotiating leverage with hospitals to keep prices down.

Contractual breakdown. An underappreciated issue that drives adverse selection is that of contractual breakdown. Under Obamacare, policyholders are able to terminate their insurance coverage at any time. But insurers are forced to honor their policies if their beneficiaries get sick. As Richard Epstein puts it,

The least risky individuals, therefore, have every incentive to get out of the system, which is regrettably accommodated by the [Affordable Care Act] rules that allow people to terminate coverage unilaterally at any time for any reason. A sounder system would have allowed health-insurance carriers to require the insureds to pay a penalty to withdraw from coverage, or to insist that they remain in the plan for some minimum period.

What phone companies can routinely do is thus systematically denied to health-insurance carriers.

Again, if insurers can’t count on policyholders to stay on their plans for the length of their contracts, insurers have to charge more money to make up for the fraction of people who game the system by dropping out.

In addition, carriers have no incentive to enter into long-term contracts with beneficiaries. When it comes to health care, long-term policies would do much to improve the system.

Let’s say you buy a health insurance policy that lasts for five years, which neither side can unilaterally terminate. That’s a system that is common in Switzerland. There, contracts are signed for one to five years, and can’t be broken unless you leave the country.

Under a five-year contract, the insurer has a much greater incentive to make sure you stay healthy, because it will be more liable for the bills if your health deteriorates. One-year contracts, on the other hand, incentivize an insurer to simply hope that you don’t get sick, with little eye to the long term.

Says Harvard Business School’s Regina Herzlinger,

Why don’t you get rewarded [for healthy behavior, in the U.S. system]? So here’s a Swiss health policy, a five-year policy, they measure your health in the beginning of the five years, they predict how healthy you will be five years from now. You have to stay with them for five years, because they’re going to make you healthy. They’re going to help you get healthy. And they want you to be around with them when you’re finally healthy. Here’s the deal: at the end of the five years, if you’re as healthy as they predicted, or healthier, they give you half your money back.

Because Americans don’t buy insurance for themselves, they have no incentive to buy plans like these.

What can be done?

Reforming the system involves, first and foremost, encouraging people to buy insurance for themselves, by eliminating the tax-code discrimination against individually purchased health insurance. Second, people should be able to buy insurance across state lines. When individuals are buying their own policies, they will vote with their feet for policies that have fewer mandates and fewer problems with adverse selection. Third, we should eliminate federal mandates that drive up insurance costs, especially in the individual market.

In addition, we should eliminate the barriers against long-term insurance contracts: (1) the ability of policyholders to terminate their coverage at will; and (2) policies that discourage the formation of multi-year insurance contracts.

One possible reform is to encourage more innovation with guaranteed-renewable insurance, such that a person who buys insurance for one year is contractually guaranteed the opportunity to renew that policy at previously-agreed-to rates. The existing forms of guaranteed-renewable coverage tend to increase up-front costs in exchange for lower costs on the back end, which can still cause adverse selection. The goal would be to preserve the incentives for people to buy insurance in the first place, and encourage long-term encourage contracts.

Free markets continually make all sorts of goods cheaper and more plentiful. Some cling to the belief that this can’t be achieved with health insurance. But it can.

Ticket? Uh-oh! How much will it affect your auto insurance?

May 15th, 2012 | News

By Michelle Megna | insurance.com

Posted : 05/14/2012

Everyone’s had that feeling of dread when you see the flashing lights of a cop car in the rearview mirror. Maybe you slowly rolled past a stop sign. Perhaps you forgot to buckle up, or you didn’t realize you were speeding. In addition to getting a ticket, you’re likely to see a hike in your car insurance premiums. But how much?

Insurance.com’s  new interactive tool, the “Uh-Oh! Calculator,” allows you to compute the average percent increase to your auto insurance rate for 14 common violations.

Insurance.com’s data analysis of more than 490,000 auto insurance quotes given to drivers reveals the following:

  • Reckless driving is the most expensive violation among the 14 infractions we surveyed, with an average rate increase of 22 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, driving without a seat belt triggers a relatively small 3 percent uptick.
  • Insurance rate hikes due to violations are sometimes higher for divorced drivers than for single and married people. For example, if you’re divorced and are ticketed for reckless driving, your annual premium may increase an average of 7 percent more than a single person’s, and 4 percent more than those who are married.
  • Condo owners sometimes see higher rate increases for violations than do renters, single-family homeowners and those who live with their parents. In some cases, such as tickets for tailgating, condo owners’ average rates go up 10 percent more than those of renters and people who reside with Mom and Dad, and 4 points more than those of homeowners. 

How much a ticket will raise your car insurance rate

Based on Insurance.com’s analysis, here’s how much common infractions will impact your rates, on average:

1. Reckless driving: 22 percent

2. DUI first offense:  19 percent

3. Driving without a license or permit:  18 percent

4. Careless driving:  16 percent

5. Speeding 30 mph over the limit: 15 percent

6. Failure to stop:  15 percent

7. Improper turn:  14 percent

8. Improper passing:  14 percent

9. Following too close/tailgating: 13 percent

10. Speeding 15 to 29 mph over limit: 12 percent

11. Speeding 1 to 14 mph over limit: 11 percent

12. Failure to yield: 9 percent

13. No car insurance: 6 percent

14. Seat belt infractions: 3 percent

Getting the bad news, customized

For more tailored results, use the “Uh Oh!” Calculator to enter your own age, type of dwelling, state, marital status, and length of time you’ve been with your car insurance carrier.

No one’s perfect: Save money on car insurance, despite your record

If you do get a ticket, don’t fret: There are ways to save money on car insurance, regardless of your driving record.

To get the most affordable car insurance for your particular situation, it pays to shop around, to dig for discounts and to drop unnecessary coverage.

Review your policy each year, and get at least three quotes when doing an auto insurance quotes comparison.

It’s also prudent to research bundling your auto and home policies, as many insurers will offer lower rates if you buy two or more types of coverage. 

Ask your insurer if you, or any of the family members on your policy, qualify for low-mileage or good-student discounts. You may also get a lower rate for vehicle-safety features such as car alarms or anti-lock brakes.

Another option: You can raise your deductible from $250 to $500 on collision and comprehensive coverage, which typically means that you can cut that portion of your premium by up to 30 percent.

In addition, it may make financial sense to drop comprehensive and collision coverage if the value of your car is less than a $1,000. If you total your car, you receive the actual cash value of the car. So for older models that aren’t worth that much on the market, it may not make sense to pay premiums for comprehensive and collision coverage.

Methodology

Insurance.com analyzed more than 490,000 auto insurance quotes provided to Insurance.com users from 14 carriers between January 2009 and January 2011. We looked at quotes given to drivers with the 14 most common infractions recorded and compared them to quotes given to drivers with no violations. We used a model to estimate the annualized premium expected for certain combinations of personal attributes (residence, state, time with prior carrier, marital status and age) along with 14 violations. This ranking is not inclusive of all possible driving violations. Rates shown are averages; your own rate will depend on your personal factors. State laws governing traffic violations are subject to change.

<Article originally titled ‘Ticket? Uh-oh! Auto insurance rate increases for common driving violations’ appeared on insurance.com on May 14, 2012>

Buying Auto Insurance in Europe

March 30th, 2012 | News

From April 2012 By Mark Orwoll Appeared as “Staying Covered in Europe” in T+L Magazine

It was one dinged-up rental car. Smashed driver’s-side mirror; sizable dent in the passenger-side aft bumper. And no, it wasn’t my fault—at least, not entirely. The Dublin rental agency never asked about damage when I returned the car, but I spent that night agonizing about how much insurance I had purchased and the potential hit on my wallet. Ten years later, I’m still half expecting a bill.

That incident taught me a lesson: always have comprehensive insurance when renting abroad—especially in Europe, where your personal car insurance is unlikely to be valid and deductibles are high. But rental insurance in Europe is tricky. “There are different rules for different countries,” says Paula Lyons, who runs the website best-car-rental-tips.com. “It can be confusing.”

To begin with, most rental rates in Europe include liability insurance, which covers damage to anything outside the car—but not to the vehicle itself. For that you need a collision damage waiver (CDW). Some companies include a CDW in the rental rate, while others sell it for $15–$30 a day; it may also be offered through your credit card provider. Whether included in the rental rate or acquired separately, a CDW in Europe carries a deductible of around $1,000–$2,000—even if the damage wasn’t your fault. And a CDW doesn’t cover your tires, windows, roof, undercarriage, or interior. Nor does it include theft (also called “loss”) insurance, which costs an extra $5–$12 a day. If your car is stolen and you don’t have coverage, you could be liable for the full value.

As if all that weren’t confusing enough, there’s something known as “super” CDW, also called “extended,” “top-up,” or “excess” CDW. These lower your deductible to nearly zero for an extra $20–$30 per day. Avis’s Super Cover policy, for example, both nixes the deductible and protects against loss. “It relieves any financial responsibility in case of accident or theft,” says John R. Barrows, a company spokesperson.

Finally, a car-rental agent may suggest that you buy personal accident insurance. This provides injury and death benefits for the driver and any passengers. You already may be covered for this by your credit card or travel insurance.

You can buy all of the above coverage from the rental-car company, but it might run as much as $80 a day with advance purchase, or even more if you buy it at the counter. Alternatively, you can rely on the coverage provided by some credit cards, but beware that these policies come with restrictions.

Another option: get a CDW from a third-party insurer; they often charge less than rental companies. Travel Guard, for one, offers a low-deductible CDW for $9 a day. But these still may not cover theft and personal accidents.

“Like any insurance, it can be expensive,” Lyons says. “That is, until you need to use it—then you’re very glad you have it.”

  • When you purchase a collision damage waiver (CDW), tell the insurer all the countries you’ll be visiting. Some European nations have different insurance requirements than others.
  • In Italy, you must buy CDW and theft-protection insurance from the rental agency.
  • Many credit cards don’t insure rentals in Ireland or certain vehicles (pickups; cars valued above $50,000). 
  • Paula Lyons of best-car-rental-tips.com says you are likely to get better CDW prices through an independent insurer rather than through the car-rental company. She recommends getting a quote from tripinsurancestore.com.
  • When you make your reservation, ask the rental agency if it’s cheaper to buy CDW in advance, at the time of reservation. You’ll sometimes get a better price, and you can compare it to a third-party quote.
  • Beware of restrictions when buying third-party CDW. You may find that you aren’t covered for certain types of vehicles, or that you’re limited to the length of the rental period or the number of drivers.
  • Credit-card coverage is good for 30 to 45 consecutive days, depending on the card. 
  • You may want to take two credit cards with you, because an amount equal to the CDW deductible may be blocked on the card you use to pay for the rental.
  • Short-term leasing may be a better value than renting: it includes no-deductible collision and theft insurance. France’s main automakers have a handy buy-back program for a lease as short as 21 days.
  • Know what type of fuel your rental car uses. Engine damage caused by the wrong type of gas isn’t covered by car-rental insurance.
  • For more advice on long-term rentals, deals, and regulations abroad, check best-car-rental-tips.com. And brush up on the general rules of the road by reading our Tips for Driving in Europe.

Supreme Court to Hear Health Care Reform Arguments in March

January 17th, 2012 | News

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in March about the health care overhaul, setting up an election year showdown. The decision to hear arguments in the spring allows plenty of time for a decision in late June, just over four months before Election Day.

The health care case could be the high court’s most significant political undertaking since the 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore nearly 11 years ago. That ruling effectively sealed George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential election victory.

The court has scheduled a remarkable five and one-half hours for oral arguments in the case, but has not set a specific date. The court will hear two hours’ worth of arguments about the so-called “individual mandate,” a linchpin of the law that requires individuals to have health insurance or face a penalty.

The court will also evaluate the provision’s constitutionality and whether the overall health care law can still stand even if that provision doesn’t.

Other portions of the oral arguments include the law’s new Medicaid requirements for states, and whether it is proper for courts to hear challenges to the law, considering its mandates do not take effect until 2014.

Source: NBC News, 12/19/11

Plummer Insurance Acquires Nerud Agency

January 11th, 2012 | News

Plummer Insurance is proud to announce the acquisition of Jack Nerud Insurance Agency of Oshkosh, Nebraska, effective January 1, 2012.

The Nerud Agency (located at 210 Main Street) has provided insurance services to the Oshkosh area since 1959.  Previous owners Jack and Barbara Nerud operated both an insurance agency and a real estate business at the 210 Main location.  Recently, the Neruds have decided to retire from the insurance agency and focus exclusively on the real estate portion of their business.
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The acquisition adds a second location to Plummer Insurance, which will still be headquartered in Bridgeport.  The Oshkosh location, managed by Andrew Plummer, offers all of the same insurance products the Bridgeport location provides, including home, auto, commercial, health, life, crop, farm, and many other specialty lines.
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The agency will be open Monday – Wednesday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM and can be reached at (308) 772.3008.

Supreme Court to Hear Challenges to Health Law

November 16th, 2011 | News

 

Copyright:  (c) 2011 A.M. Best Company, Inc.
Source:  A.M. Best Company, Inc.
   


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, setting the stage for one of the most closely watched cases to reach the high court in recent years.

The Supreme Court’s decision to accept the case was not surprising, given that several federal appellate courts have handed down opinions on the health care reform law that differed dramatically from one another. But what was unusual was the justices setting aside five and a half hours for oral arguments on the case. Typically, the Supreme Court allots 30 minutes to each side for each case. The arguments in the PPACA case are likely to be scheduled for early next year, with a decision coming in late June — in the middle of the final months of the 2012 election campaign.

The justices did not, however, agree to hear arguments on all of the issues raised in appeals filed by the Obama administration, 26 states and a business trade group. The majority of the oral argument time will be devoted to whether the PPACA’s key provision — the individual mandate that requires all Americans to purchase health insurance — is constitutional and whether the individual mandate can be struck down while allowing other portions of the law to stand.

The justices also agreed to hear arguments on whether the Anti-Injunction Act bars some or all of the challenges to the insurance mandate and the constitutionality of the expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled.

The Supreme Court’s decision to grant certiorari came after the Obama administration and 26 states suing to block the health reform law asked the justices to take up a decision out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit decision that determined the individual mandate was unconstitutional. That court also overturned a January district court decision that the mandate was not severable from the act. The National Federation of Independent Business, a party to the multistate lawsuit, filed a separate petition asking for the district court’s severability determination to be upheld and the entire law rejected as a result.

The questions that are now before the Supreme Court have already been put before federal appellate courts, which have largely split on how they should be answered. In the latest decision related to the PPACA, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected a challenge to the federal health reform law’s individual mandate to carry insurance, with a Reagan appointee writing the majority opinion (Best’s News Service, Nov. 8, 2011).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected arguments from both the plaintiff, Liberty University, and the Justice Department that the Anti-Injunction Act should not apply to the PPACA penalty (Best’s News Service, Oct. 11, 2011).

And Virginia asked for reconsideration of an appeals court dismissal of its right to challenge the law in federal court based on a state law enacted to block the individual mandate. The 4th Circuit ruled the mandate imposed no burden on the state, just individuals, and therefore a state has no basis to intervene (Best’s News Service, Oct. 3, 2011).

While the constitutionality of the PPACA and its individual mandate is still in question until the Supreme Court issues a decision, several states have moved to protest the law by way of legislation and ballot measures.

On Nov. 8, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state’s constitution that would prohibit laws requiring Ohio residents to participate in the state’s health care system; laws that require residents to purchase health insurance; and laws that fine residents for failing to purchase health insurance (Best’s News Service, Nov. 9, 2011). Arizona, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma have taken similar steps.

But in practice, those legislative protests of the PPACA may not have any immediate effect on the question of whether individuals can be required to buy health insurance. Because state law is superseded by federal law under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate will override any state laws seeking to take a different approach.

Obama Deficit Plan Targets Farm Subsidies, Crop Insurance

September 20th, 2011 | News

By Reuters September 20, 2011

President Barack Obama on Monday proposed to end a “direct payment” subsidy that gives $5 billion a year to farmers regardless of need, as part of his larger effort to reduce the federal budget deficit.

Direct payments, created in 1996 as a temporary measure, will be the largest farm subsidy this year and terminating them would be a dramatic re-shaping of the U.S. farm program.

Traditional price support programs, which are triggered by low grain prices, are idle this year because of record high crop prices.

Opponents of the direct payments say they help bankroll large operators who out-bid small and medium-size growers for land and equipment. Defenders say the payments are one leg of a federal tripod that stabilizes the farm sector

The White House said the subsidy is “unnecessary” as more than half of recipients have incomes above $100,000 a year. In a blog, White House rural advisor Doug McKalip said elimination of the subsidy was common-sense reform.

Elimination of direct payments would save $30 billion over a decade and crop insurance reforms would save $8.3 billion, said the White House. It also suggested cuts of $2 billion in stewardship programs and renewal of a disaster program that expires on Oct 1 for net savings of $33 billion.

Republican farm-state lawmakers said Obama should have looked at land stewardship and public nutrition programs rather than proposing hefty cuts to farm and crop insurance subsidies.

“For example, cutting $8 billion from crop insurance puts the entire program at risk,” said House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Kansas Sen Pat Roberts, Republican leader on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Discussion of farm reform usually is put off until a new farm law is being written. But the congressional drive for large savings could force earlier-than-usual debate.

Direct payments were tabbed months ago as a target for reduction or elimination. Some farm groups hope to shift money from the payments into programs that compensate farm losses.

“We think the program is politically vulnerable,” said analyst Mark McMinimy of MF Global. “But just how the program may be altered and how quickly changes will go into effect are still very much open questions.”

The National Corn Growers said it was concerned the cuts would undermine farmers’ ability to buy crop insurance to offset high and volatile market prices.

“While direct payments may be impacted, we are going to find a way to have a safety net in place,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the National Restaurant Association.

The government pays roughly 60 percent of the premium for crop insurance. The White House would reduce the subsidy by two basis points on policies with a federal subsidy above 50 percent, for savings estimated at $2 billion.

More than 90 percent of policyholders opt for higher levels of coverage.

The White House also would lower the rate of return to insurers to 12 percent, from the current 14 percent, to save $2 billion. It would cap administrative expenses at $900 million a year, adjusted for inflation, to save $3.7 billion, and set the premium for catastrophic coverage more accurately, saving $600 million.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad said Obama asked “for larger agriculture cuts than are necessary or appropriate” and could impair drafting of the 2012 farm law.

Without the direct payment, the budget for farm supports would be half or less than current spending.

copyright Reuters 2011

(Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

EMC Voting Begins Today

July 1st, 2011 | News

Beginning today, July 1st, 2011, people can go on-line to EMC’s Website and click “Vote Now” to begin voting for their favorite charity. Voting will last 100 days and will end on October 8. Voters are allowed to vote once each day until voting closes. At the end of the 100 day voting period, the four non-profits with the highest combined scores from the public and the EMC Foundation will receive an additional $25,000. We encourage each of you to go on-line in July show your support for the Morrill County Community Hospital Foundation.

To learn more about the 100 Ways of Giving, visit The Official Press Release or log on to http://morrillcountyhospital.com/ or www.countonEMC.com.  Thank you!

Morrill County Hospital Foundation Beneficiary of Grant

June 9th, 2011 | News

On June 7, the Morrill County Hospital Foundation was presented a grant for $1,000.00 from EMC Insurance Company and the EMC Insurance Foundation. The Foundation was nominated by Plummer Insurance, Inc. as one of only 100 nonprofit organizations across the country to receive a grant. This campaign is designed to help EMC celebrate its 100th Anniversary and to support those communities which have been very important to EMC Insurance Companies over the years. Plummer Insurance, Inc. is one of only four agencies in the Omaha Branch, consisting of over 200 agents, to receive this priviledge.
 
In addition to this grant, four of these nonprofits are eligible to be awarded $25,000 this fall in the next phase of the 100 Ways of Giving campaign. Starting July 1, people can go on-line to www.CountonEMC.com and vote for their favorite charity. Voting will last 100 days and will end on October 8. Voters are allowed to vote once each day until voting closes. At the end of the 100 day voting period, the four non-profits with the highest combined scores from the public and the EMC Foundation will receive an additional $25,000. We encourage each of you to go on-line in July show your support for the Morrill County Community Hospital Foundation.