As of the writing of this article, more than 41 significant
changes have been made to the Affordable Care Act (
referred to as ObamaCare). At least 23 of the changes have
been made by the Obama Administration unilaterally.
Congress has passed 16 changes which the President
agreed with and has signed. The Supreme Court changed
2 through their deliberations.
In talking to most people, the ACA is as clear as mud.
What the future will hold is unpredictable, except to say
that more changes may occur, the complete enactment
of the law will exceed the President’s term of office, and
premiums and deductibles are predicted to continue to
rise again, and again.
CHANGES B Y ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION
1. Medicare Advantage patch: (April 19, 2011)
2. Employee reporting: (January 1, 2012)
3. Subsidies may flow through federal exchanges:
(May 23, 2012)
4. Delaying a low-income plan: (February 7, 2013)
5. Closing the high-risk pool: (February 15, 2013)
6. Doubling allowed deductibles: (February 20, 2013)
7. Small businesses on hold: (March 11, 2013)
8. Employer-mandate delay: (July 2, 2013)
9. Self-attestation: (July 15, 2013)
10. Delaying the online SHOP exchange: (September 26,
2013); (November 27, 2013)
11. Congressional opt-out: (September 30, 2013)
12. Delaying the individual mandate: (October 23, 2013)
13. Insurance companies may offer canceled plans:
(November 14, 2013)
14. Exempting unions from reinsurance fee:
(December 2, 2013)
15. Extending Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan: (
December 12, 2013); (January 14, 2014); (March 14, 2014)
16. Expanding hardship waiver to those with canceled
plans: (December 19, 2013); (March 5, 2014)
17. Equal employer coverage delayed: (January 18, 2014)
18. Employer-mandate delayed again:
(February 10, 2014)
19. Extending subsidies to non-exchange plans:
(February 27, 2014)
20. Non-compliant health plans get two year extension:
(March 5, 2014)
21. Delaying the sign-up deadline: (March 26, 2014)
22. Canceling Medicare Advantage cuts: (April 7, 2014)
23. More Funds for Insurer Bailout: (May 16, 2014)
CHANGES BY CONGRESS,
SIGNED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA:
24. Military benefits: (April 26, 2010)
25. VA benefits: (May 27, 2010)
26. Drug-price clarification: (August 10, 2010)
27. Doc-fix tax: (December 15, 2010)
28. Extending the adoption credit: (December 17, 2010)
29. TRICARE for adult children: (January 7, 2011)
30. 1099 repealed: (April 14, 2011)
31. No free-choice vouchers: (April 15, 2011)
32. No Medicaid for well-to-do seniors:
(November 21, 2011)
33. CO-OPs, IPAB, IRS defunded: (December 23, 2011)
34. Slush-fund savings: (February 22, 2012)
35. Less cash for Louisiana: (July 6, 2012)
36. CLASS Act eliminated: (January 2, 2013)
37. Cutting CO-OPs: (January 2, 2013)
38. Trimming the Medicare trust-fund transfer:
(March 26, 2013)
39. Eliminating caps on deductibles for small group
plans: (April 1, 2014)
CHANGES BY THE SUPREME COURT:
40. Medicaid expansion made voluntary.
41. The individual mandate made a tax.
We will provide as much clarity as we possibly can in the
coming months as we near the small employer mandates
and other key components of ACA. We hope to be a
viable resource to you as we continue to sift through this
huge piece of legislation and its requirements, followed
by its impacts on our collective businesses.
41 Changes to
2012 Census of
Agriculture reveals new
trends in farming
There are now 3. 2 million farmers operating 2. 1
million farms on 914.5 million acres of farmland
across the United States, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture (USDA). The agriculture census
presents a detailed look at the U.S. farm sector at the
national, state and county levels.
“Once every five years, farmers, ranchers and growers have the unique opportunity to let the world know
how U.S. agriculture is changing, what is staying the
same, what’s working and what we can do differently,”
said Dr. Cynthia Clark, the retiring head of USDA’s
National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Census data provide valuable insight into the U.S.
farmer demographics, economics and production practices. Some of the key findings include:
-Both sales and production expenses reached record
highs in 2012. U.S. producers sold $394.6 billion
worth of agricultural products, but it cost them $328.9
billion to produce these products.
-Three quarters of all farms had sales of less than
$50,000, producing only 3 percent of the total value of
farm products sold while those with sales of more than $1
million – 4 percent of all farms – produced 66 percent.
-California led the nation with 9 of the 10 top counties for value of sales. Fresno County was number one
in the United States with nearly $5 billion in sales in
2012, which is greater than that of 23 states.
-California was the top state for agricultural sales
-Eighty-seven percent of all U.S. farms are operated by
families or individuals.
-Principal operators were on average 58.3 years old and
were predominantly male; second operators were slightly
younger and most likely to be female; and third operators
were younger still.
-Young, beginning principal operators who reported their
primary occupation as farming increased 11. 3 percent from
36,396 to 40,499 between 2007 and 2012.
-All categories of minority-operated farms increased
between 2007 and 2012; the Hispanic-operated farms had
a significant 21 percent increase.
-144,530 farm operators reported selling products
directly to consumers. In 2012, these sales totaled more
than $1.3 billion (up 8. 1 percent from 2007).
-Organic sales were growing, but accounted for just 0.8
percent of the total value of U.S. agricultural production.
Organic farmers reported $3.12 billion in sales in 2012,
up from $1.7 billion in 2007.
-Farms with Internet access rose from 56.5 percent in
2007 to 69.6 percent in 2012.
-57,299 farms produced on-farm renewable energy, more
than double the 23,451 in 2007.
-474,028 farms covering 173.1 million acres were farmed
with conservation tillage or no-till practices.
-The largest category of operations was beef cattle with
619,172 or 29 percent of all farms and ranches in 2012
specializing in cattle.
“This information is critical to understanding the
conditions of U.S. agriculture and determining future
policy,” said incoming NASS Administrator Dr. Joseph T.
Reilly. “Today’s data release is the culmination of years’
worth of planning and work that NASS has made openly
available for public use.” For access to the complete data
series and tools to analyze this information, visit www.
A Call-To-Arms from
your Executive Director
We all receive our news from different sources,
by-and-large based on our generational preferences and
experiences. Many of us are used to the morning newspaper, magazines and television news, while younger
generations have moved almost exclusively to the internet
and social media. No matter how you receive the news,
one would have to be a hermit not to hear about Washington and the dysfunction that has been promulgated there
(in seemingly high speed) for the past 6-8 years.
It is very easy to get frustrated (maybe even not care
anymore), or vote for change during elections (to ‘vote all
the bums out’, as that old saying goes), or not vote or care
at all. Our human spirit and confidence in our federal government has been diminished, as represented by the historic
low approval ratings of Congress and the President.
There are some that will say that Washington has
accomplished very little in the past 6-8 years, and that
seems to be the S.O.P of the district and will continue
until after the 2016 Presidential election cycle. Being an
optimist as I am, I have to disagree and say that it is time
that we say loudly, ‘No More’. I do not believe that politics is an excuse to be used again, and again, and again.
That dog just won’t hunt anymore.
I have had the pleasure to meet Speaker John Boehner
on two occasions this year, along with a few Congressmen
and Senators (from both parties). If I may, I would like to
share some of the backroom news that is not reported, and
some it reported (although embellished at times).
Speaker Boehner does have difficulty with the Tea
Party within his own party. That is not new news, and he
deals with a House rule (the Hastert Rule) which will not
allow any bill to come to the floor without the majority of
the majority party in support of it. And frankly, it hurts
the Speaker’s progress when Tea Party Senators speak
out against Republican House initiatives that they do
not agree with, or the President threatens to limit or stop
deportations two months before the 2014 mid-term elections if it will teach the Republicans a lesson for inaction
(thus helping Democrats during the mid-term elections).
Politics is at work in D.C., sometimes at its best (and
worst), seemingly acting like an old Western stand-off.
If you must ask, ‘Yes’ there is a big rift between the
House Republicans and the President. It is based on a
huge divide in policy; it is based on the President’s pur-
suit of another signature law to solidify his legacy; it is a
result of a lack of negotiating to the middle by both sides;
it is a result of a mistrust of the President to uphold the
country’s laws by House Republicans, and it is based on
the President’s exercise of executive powers to postpone
major portions of the Affordable Care Act, admitting
illegal migrant children into the country, and the recent
5-for- 1 prisoner exchange with Al Qaeda. Without trust,
how can anyone work together?
Here is the Reality that we (and they) face - - Immigration Reform is not a Republican issue; it is not a
Democratic issue; it is not a Tea Party issue; it is not a
President Obama issue; IT IS AN AMERICAN ISSUE!
They are all at fault for dragging politics into the issue.
The fact of the matter is that Immigration Reform is a
humane issue; it is a family issue; it is a global feeding
issue; it is a Christian issue; and it is an economic issue
for our country.
The last couple of decades suggests that during an
election cycle Congress will ‘Kick the can down the road’
and put off legislation dealing with Immigration Reform,
as is once again the case this year. Yet I remain fully confident that the Speaker wants to get immigration reform
done. He recognizes that the migrant population is a key
component of our economy. They contribute every day
to our success, and provide a vital solution to our industry’s labor needs that we would not have otherwise.
Now that the Speaker has informed the President that
immigration reform is not possible this year, and Kevin
McCarthy is taking over as the House Majority Leader,
(and represents one of the largest AG districts in the
USA), we hope that they can bring immigration reform to
the House floor in the next Congress.
What can you do to help the NWA? Please consider
joining us as we create a Watermelon Political Action
Committee (PAC). A PAC is a great way to ‘support
those that support us’. We have to reverse the agenda in
Washington to once again become ours; not theirs. If the
House of Representatives is truly the People’s House,
then the agenda needs to represent what the people want
(and not include what we do not want). A PAC can
strategically help to lead us down that long road. Your
support (and contribution) will help us in this endeavor.
It is somewhat troubling to see how the NWA has
changed across the years - - and change necessarily! It
used to be that the NWA through its efforts in Washington
developed and nurtured government relations that helped
us to advance good legislation while monitoring rules and
regulations that were not hurtful to businesses. The reality is that our game plan has changed from an offensive
posture to defensive. The NWA nowadays has a primary
focus to protect our members’ businesses, tradition and
association from our very own government. That is a
trend that we must change.
This is a Call-to-Arms for YOU! Are you prepared
to join our forces? We have the know-how and a strong
will, and we should never under-estimate ourselves and
be distracted by the negativity. Let’s keep our sights high
and have a positive attitude. We all love this business and
our Watermelon Family. At the end of each day, that is
what really matters. Godspeed.