LEG REG REVIEW is a periodic newsletter produced by PHILLIPS ASSOCIATES, a professional lobbying and consultant firm located near the State Capitol. It contains news on the legislative and regulatory scene in Pennsylvania that may be of interest to the Insurance and Business Communities. It is a free member benefit for those who are members of the Pennsylvania Association of Health Underwriters (PAHU) or Manufacturers Association of South Central PA (MASCPA). Subscription information may be obtained by contacting PHILLIPS ASSOCIATES at 717/728-1217 FAX 717/728-1164 or e-mail to email@example.com. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org supplying both your name and e-mail address if you wish to be removed from this list.
SESSION RECESSES FOR ELECTION
The House recessed until after the election while the Senate is coming in this week. The House still has November session days schedule while the Senate insists that it will complete its work now. Two top priorities for this fall’s session, taxing Marcellus Shale and creating a legislative budget fiscal oversight office, have not yet been met. Likewise, texting while driving is still legal given the House and Senate’s inability to reconcile differences as to how tough the new law would be.
Nonetheless, lots of legislative action took place this past week. On October 7, Governor Rendell signed HB 1774 (Boyd-R-Lancaster) into law as Act 68. It states that service contracts are not to be regulated as insurance products. An example would be towing programs offered by an auto club.
Sent to the Governor for his signature are:
- HB 400 (Lentz-D-Delaware) stiffens definitions of independent contractors to reduce Workers’ Compensation abuse
- SB 123 (Gordner-R-Columbia) is a consumer privacy protection from computer spyware bill
- HB 2246 (Tallman-R-York/Adams) was amended to take out language that would have allowed trial lawyers to present closing arguments for damage awards in auto insurance cases. It now simply strengthens penalties on endangering emergency workers.
- SB 1280 (Rafferty-R-Montgomery) freezes MCARE coverage levels for doctors instead of having the Department periodically assess coverage thresholds
- HB 664 was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee after being reported out of the Senate Labor & Industry Committee. It grants Workers’ Compensation status to firefighters and other emergency workers. This is important to note because it may be one vote away from being sent to the Governor for his signature unless it is amended by the Senate.
- An Office of Insurance Consumer Advocate bill (HB 2735 –Casorio-D-Westmoreland) moved through the House Insurance Committee. It would be funded out of the General Fund and not by insurers. It was re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee.
- Increasing auto insurance limits (SB 1460-Hughes-D-Phila) was taken up by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee at a Philadelphia hearing on September 22. One view expressed was the need to increase auto limits to more closely approximate the reality of accident costs versus the view that the premium increases would push more Pennsylvanians into the ranks of those without auto insurance.
- A joint hearing by the House Insurance Committee and the House Aging & Older Adult Services on HB 2538 (Mundy-D-Luzerne), a bill relating to long-term care insurance premiums which was to have been held October 7 was cancelled. It states that a long-term care insurance policy may not be issued if premiums charged are calculated to increase solely on the duration of the policy and a mandatory non-forfeiture benefit kicks in if the policy lapses because of a substantial increase in premium rates. For text on this or any bill, please go to www.legis.state.pa.us.
FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE RENEWED
On September 30, 2010, President Obama signed the National Flood Insurance Re-extension Act of 2010 into law. This extends the life of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until September 30, 2011.
- More Cabinet attrition in the waning days of the Rendell Administration with the departure of Health Secretary Everette James who is now Vice Chancellor for Health Policy at the University of Pittsburgh.
- The PA Insurance Department received a $1 million grant from HHS to help it review rate increases by health insurers.
- The National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Louisiana, Audubon Indemnity Company, and Audubon Insurance Company are seeking to merge into PA-domiciled National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh.
- The Insurance Department issued a notice in the October 2 PA Bulletin (www.pabulletin.com) implementing Act 51 of 2010 regarding benefit triggers for long-term care insurance. As of November 6, an insurer must notify policyholders of its position that triggers have not been met and provide for an appeal mechanism. It also provides for an independent review of the case from a list of LTCi independent review organizations. Questions: Carolyn Morris 717/783-9862
PHC4 ISSUES NEW REPORT
Released by the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) is a report showing a dramatic increase in the numbers of ambulatory surgical centers in PA. (www.phc4.org) PHC4 separately re-opened a request for Information to identify additional vendors that may be chosen by Pennsylvania’s hospitals for purposes of submitting laboratory data to the PHC4. (Details: email@example.com 717/232-6787
FEDERAL IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES
Industry reaction to the new provisions of Federal law has result in some stepping back or out of the marketplace. Principal has opted to leave the health insurance market altogether while Aetna, WellPoint, CIGNA and others will not write any new children stand-alone policies. In addition to the 9/23 benefit enhancements; Aetna specifically cited the elimination of pre-existing conditions for children under 19 as making it too costly to stay in that market. Carriers are continuing coverage of children within family/dependent policies.
GUIDE TO STATE IMPLEMENTATION LEGISLATION
Despite the Rendell Administration’s issuance of Executive Order 2010-2 giving itself the authority to implement the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act in Pennsylvania, the General Assembly has also been pursuing an implementation track.
- HB 2462 (Shapiro-D-Montgomery) establishes an Implementation Authority comprised of Cabinet heads and some stakeholders to govern implementation
- HB 2759 (DeLuca-D-Allegheny) focuses on implementation of the Exchange provision of the Federal law. Insurance producers would be able to market the Exchanges and would be put on an Internet register by the Insurance Department as agents authorized to do so. PAHU is examining the wording to see if the licensing requirements in Act 147 (Producer Licensing Law) are fully met.
Although it is too late in the session for action, it is important to note that these two bills become the starting points for legislative consideration in 2010. What are your thoughts and suggestions? firstname.lastname@example.org