News Roundup: Millions Of Policyholders Affected If Congress Lets National Flood Insurance Program Expire

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelNovember 1, 2018 12:46 pm|

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Federal funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire at the end of this month if lawmakers don’t reauthorize it. The program serves more than five million policyholders across the country, and FEMA says nearly every major city in Texas is vulnerable to Gulf Coast hurricanes or flash flooding.

David Maurstad is chief executive of the National Flood Insurance Program. He says it’s not unusual for the program to get short-term funding extensions.

“Over the years, there have been times when the program has had a series of short-term extensions: from 2008 to 2012, for example, there were about 16 different extensions of the program,” Maurstad says.

Maurstad explains what would happen if lawmakers don’t fund the program before Nov. 30:

“Well, during a lapse, the National Flood Insurance Program can’t sell or renew flood insurance policies, and we wouldn’t if we needed – and right now our financial position is okay – but we wouldn’t be able to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to pay claims for our existing policies.”

Congress passed a temporary funding extension this past summer after the House and Senate did not agree to proposed changes to the debt-plagued program. As of Aug. 31, nearly 750,000 Texans have National Flood Insurance Program policies. Tens of thousands of people signed up after Hurricane Harvey.




Texans who want to buy health insurance plans on the individual marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, can start enrolling today through Dec. 15. Ashley Lopez with KUT News reports on what you can expect when you log on to healthcare.gov:

The Obamacare marketplace itself hasn’t changed much for folks in Central Texas. There’s the same number of providers – even the exact same providers, and the prices of the 33 plans they are offering aren’t drastically different either. Kori Hattemer with Foundation Communities says some plans are cheaper, some are more expensive … but overall, people should shop around. Hattemer warns that there are currently fewer regulated plans in the market, in general – that’s thanks to the Trump administration’s effort to weaken Obamacare. But she says Obamacare plans on healthcare.gov are required to provide a slew of essential benefits and protections.

“So, it has to include all of the protections and all of the coverage that plans have always had to include under the Affordable Care Act. Plans outside of the healthcare.gov marketplace – a lot of these short-term plans might now include those.”

That means those plans might not include emergency room coverage, maternity and labor coverage or mental health care, while Obamacare plans have to cover those things. Like last year, open enrollment only lasts six weeks this year. The final day to sign up for health insurance is Dec.15.

 




Ahead of the 2019 Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing will honor Texas icon Willie Nelson. Nelson won his first Grammy in 1975 for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”

In total, Nelson’s won eight Grammys and been nominated 49 times.