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.
BUDGET ACCORD? … ALMOST
Last week the Governor and legislative leaders appeared to reach a spending agreement of $27.65 billion for FY 2012-13. Details are still being hammered out regarding specific programs but most expect that the Budget will be passed by the constitutional deadline of June 30, 2012.
FLOOD OF BILLS SEE ACTION
Bills have seen significant legislative action as the General Assembly prepares to recess for the summer.
- The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee reported out House Bill 2135 (Quinn-R-Bucks). This legislation creates a limited power for unlicensed retail clerks to sell property insurance for portable electronic devices such as cell phones. It already passed the House so that the only thing standing in its way to becoming law is a full Senate vote.
- The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee also reported out House Bill 532 (Saylor-R-York). It mandates group and individual health insurance policies to cover general anesthesia and associated costs for children seven or younger and for those developmentally disabled.
- The full House voted for Senate Bill 1464 (D. White-R-Indiana). SB 1464 brings PA into alignment with the NAIC model law creating a new classification of “certified” reinsurers. It also provides for Department group-wide supervision of internationally active multi-jurisdictional insurance groups. Earlier, it gained language from SB 1524. SB 1464 goes to the Governor for his signature.
- The House Health Committee reported out Senate Bill 8 (Folmer-R-Lebanon). It creates a new entity called the PA eHealth Partnership to govern over the establishment and maintenance of an electronic data base containing medical and test results so that doctors might be less inclined to provide their own testing when the patient may have had the same test performed recently by another health care provider. A full House vote would put the bill in the Governor’s hands.
- RE Senate Bill 1144 (Ward-R-Westmoreland), LEG REG Review received an email from an agent suggesting that SB 1144 would be harmful to consumers because it would allow dentists to abrogate their contracts with insurers allowing for discounted pricing on non-covered services and on additional visits not covered by the policy. In this view, consumers would use fewer non-covered dental services and not go for the extra visits (a dental health issue). Advocates say that it is wrong for insurers to force dentists to work with discounted conditions when there is no actual coverage. It passed the Senate 46-0 and the House Insurance Committee 21-0. It still needs House approval.
- Governor Corbett signed Senate Bill 388 (Vance-R-Cumberland) into law as Act 65 of 2012. The law requires dentists to carry medical malpractice insurance just as doctors and hospitals are required to do. That also means that they come under the purview of the MCARE program administered by the Insurance Department.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY CLEARS REGULATORY OVERSIGHT BILL
- The full House concurred with Senate amendments to pass House Bill 1349 (Pickett-R-Bradford). This is a piece of legislation requiring that the state’s regulatory agencies under the Governor’s oversight such as Agriculture, DEP, Insurance, L&I etc. to analyze proposed rules for their impact on small businesses. Among other things, the analysis would:
- Identify the industries affected
- Financial, economic and social impacts of the regulation on individuals, small businesses and business & labor communities
- Estimate numbers of businesses affected and costs connected with the regulation and record keeping
Signed in the House June 22, it is going to the Governor for his signature. Because of its importance to the regulatory business community, a link appears below.
DEBATE SCHEDULED ON NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE
The United States Senate has scheduled debate on major reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) this coming week. Debated will be S. 1940. Previously, the US House of Representatives passed HR 1309 but the Senate had not yet taken up NFIP except for another short-term extension of the program through July 2012. Text of the legislation may be accessed through www.thomas.gov.
Pennsylvania Note: On June 21, NFIP gave notice to West Pittston, Luzerne County that it will be in probation as of October 1 unless it meets minimum floodplain management requirements. A consequence will be a $50 surcharge on premiums for policies written or renewed after that date.
FEDERAL CROP INSURANCE UPDATE
On June 21, the US Senate voted 64-38 to pass S. 3240 the Farm Bill. Among its many provisions dealing with everything from SNAP (food stamps) to conservation practices are provisions affecting the Crop Insurance Program. Senator Casey voted yes while Senator Toomey voted no on final passage. S. 3240 now goes to the House where a timetable is uncertain. Adopted were the following amendments:
- Requiring Risk Management Administration (RMA) to use plain language to make Crop Insurance more understandable and accessible. (voice vote)
- Limit Crop Insurance subsidy to persons or legal entities with adjusted gross income under $750,000 but require that a study be done first (Casey and Toomey both voted yes).
- Require that organic crops be treated by Crop Insurance under similar terms and conditions as other crops with Casey voted yes and Toomey no.
The most important amendment was one defeated in the Senate. Failing 33-66 was an amendment called the Gillibrand Amendment after its sponsor Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to limit Crop Insurance support to insurers and divert the funding to nutrition programs. Crop Insurance support absorbs administrative and marketing costs including agent commissions that the Crop Insurance carriers would otherwise have to pay. Senator Casey voted yes and Senator Toomey voted no.
Also, a Casey amendment passed requiring more frequent dairy reporting; to study feasibility of having two classes of milk and a manufacturing class to replace the current four class system re Milk Marketing Orders. (Casey yes, Toomey no)
PHILLIPS ASSOCIATES is planning two summer CE blitzes: a compliance blitz with lobbyist Vince Phillips and former Insurance Department Counsel Christopher Knight, now with the law firm of Hawke, McKeon, & Sniscak LLP to discuss Insurance Department compliance issues for insurers and producers. Second will be a blitz across the state to help insurance producers better understand the upcoming US Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act. Details will be announced for both.