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.
INSURANCE COMMITTEE MOVES LEGISLATION
On May 23, the House Insurance Committee reported on six bills and passed over on one. To be addressed another day is House Bill 32 (DeLuca-D-Allegheny) which approaches the UPMC-Highmark dispute by requiring 90 days notification to the Insurance Department by a “hospital plan corporation” of a contract termination between it and a hospital (network) having 5% or more of the beds in an area; giving the Department the authority to hold a hearing and launch an investigation as to whether the expiration is “in the public interest, and if not, to extend the contract for a year.
Bills reported out by the committee are:
- Three dental bills which: mandate health insurance coverage for general anesthesia for certain eligible patients such as mentally impaired or youthful (HB 532 by Rep. Stan Saylor-R-York); require dentists to have professional liability insurance (SB 388 by Sen. Pat Vance-R-Cumberland); amends the Health Security Act to stipulate that an insurer’s contract with a dentist may not require that the dentist provide services at a fee set by the insurer unless compensated for the service (HB 1537 by Rep. Tom Murt-R-Montgomery)
- House Bill 508 (DeLuca) mandates health insurer coverage for patient costs connected with clinical cancer trials – the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) already has a Federal mandate for clinical trials but not for other associated patient costs.
- House Bill 2391 (Micozzie-R-Delaware) amends the Holding Companies Act to reflect the NAIC Model Law on group wide supervision of internationally active multi-jurisdictional insurance groups.
- House Bill 2135 (Quinn-R-Bucks) creates a limited line of authority for unlicensed retail clerks to sell property insurance for portable electronic products. The company would have to provide training although a PAHU proposal to have the Insurance Department set standards for the training was blocked by the Department which said that no other limited line mandates training and that any consumer complaints based on inappropriate marketing conduct would be dealt with by the regulators’ consumer services and enforcement bureaus. HB 2135 is supported by the Insurance Federation and IA&B (after it was amended to exclude larger electronic products), and is not opposed by the Insurance Department or PAMIC.
PPACA ATTACK DRAWS FIRE
Senate Bill 10 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson) was reported out of the House State Government Committee May 22 on a party-line vote with Democrats voting no. SB 10 would amend the PA Constitution to say that citizens of the Commonwealth would not be required to purchase health insurance in direct contradiction to the individual mandate contained within the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Democrats attacked the bill by pointing to a Heritage Foundation study and former Governor Romney’s support of the individual mandate. Motions to fine non purchasers and to re-refer the bill to the Insurance Committee all failed on party-line votes.
CORBETT SIGNS MICOZZIE BILL On May 22, Governor Corbett signed House Bill 2134 (Micozzie-R-Delaware) into law as Act 51 of 2012. It strengthens health insurer solvency oversight by establishing a regulatory trigger re Risk Based Capital (RBC) assessment.
NUMEROUS LEGISLATIVE DEVELOPMENTS
- The House-passed Towing and Towing Storage Facility Standards Act (House Bill 1908 by Rep. Micozzie-R-Delaware) was referred to the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee
- Professional Employer Organization (PEO) legislation passed a test May 22 with its’ reporting by the Senate Labor & Industry Committee. House Bill 1055 (Mustio-R-Allegheny) establishes a regulatory framework by L&I over PEOs. Another PEO bill, Senate Bill 1069 (Browne-R-Lehigh) was discussed at the meeting but not moved. There remains concern by some brokers that PEOs may result in less consumer service to businesses than a traditional company-broker relationship would provide.
- Senate Bill 1464 (D. White-R-Indiana) amends the Insurance Company Law providing for additional disclosures by insurers when seeking to do business in PA and specifies that information provided to the Department by insurers is not subject to right-to-know requests. SB 1464 was reported as amended by the Senate Appropriations Committee May 22.
HEALTH INFORMATION BILL MOVES
The PA Health Information Technology Act (Senate Bill 8 – Folmer-R-Lebanon) was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It establishes an independent authority which will operate a data base of medical test and other information. This resource could be utilized by doctors instead of having duplicative testing which drives up the cost of health care. Health care providers might be able to access these records without specific prior consent by the patient since access might be necessary to the care of the patient. Doctors would have civil immunity if they rely on someone else’s test instead of conducting their own. The Corbett Administration version of this concept is called eHealth Collaborative.
POLITICS…Jane Orie (R-Allegheny) resigned her Senate seat May 21 as a result of her conviction on using state resources for campaign purposes. One of those rumored to be seeking to replace her is former US representative Melissa Hart who, before being elected to Congress, served in the State Senate.
- The Commonwealth Court rebuffed the Insurance Department’s attempt to liquidate long-term care insurance Penn Treaty American Insurance Company, finding that a plan of rehabilitation had not been devised and that the Insurance Department had “acted to frustrate rehabilitation”. The Court gave ninety days for a plan to be devised. It also said that Penn Treaty had $1 billion in assets and was meeting its LTC obligations as they come due.
- Patient Safety Authority (MCARE) will meet June 5 in Harrisburg. Details: 717/346-0469
NFIP YES? NO? MAYBE?
As the program termination date of May 31 draws ever closer, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) received a boost when the US Senate passed a sixty-day extension. In order to go in effect, the House must concur. Media accounts differ as to behind the scenes drama, some of which could still scuttle reauthorization. IFA Media reported that a stumbling block (now resolved) was Senator David Vitter’s (LA) linking NFIP reauthorization to a Food & Drug Administration reauthorization bill. Property Casualty 360 tied Senate passage to the inclusion of a substantive NFIP amendment by Senator Tom Coburn (OK) to phase out subsidies for second homes and vacation properties. The House has to accept Coburn’s amendment in order for the 60-day NFIP lifeline to go into effect.
MARKET NOTE…For those insurance producers advising clients on disaster preparedness, note that May 27-June 2 is Hurricane Preparedness Week. The National Weather Service has several resources which are accessible at www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/