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). Subscription information may be obtained by contacting PHILLIPS ASSOCIATES at 717/728-1217 FAX 717/232-7005 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please email email@example.com supplying both your name and e-mail address if you wish to be removed from or added to this list.
NAVIGATOR HEARING ON APRIL 2
The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee is convening a hearing April 2 in Harrisburg on Navigators, certified application counselors et al and specifically will air perspectives on Senate Bill 1268 (Eichelberger-R-Blair). Testimony will include the PA Insurance Department which did not support SB 1268’s House counterpart, House Bill 1522 (Tobash-R-Schuylkill), the PA Association of Health Underwriters (PAHU), two Navigators, and a video conference with PA Rep. Joe Pitts, chair of the health subcommittee of the Energy & Commerce Committee that deals with the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA). SB 1268 follows:
SB 1268 has 15 sponsors including President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson). Passage of Navigator registration and oversight legislation is PAHU’s top legislative priority. To that end PAHU has scheduled a Day on the Hill April 8 in Harrisburg to push SB 1268 and HB 1522. Details: Shelly Bloom firstname.lastname@example.org
Nominating petitions are in to the Department of State which means that we now have a pretty good idea as to who is in the spring primary (www.dos.pa.state.us). Next date to note is March 19 when candidates or proxies will participate in a lottery to see who gets which position on the ballot. It is 9:30 a.m. in Room 125 Keystone Building for Governor, Lt. Governor, Members of Congress, PA State Senators, and PA State Representatives. Drawings for Republican State Committee candidates will be 9:30 a.m. in Keystone Hearing Room 3 and Democratic State Committee drawings will be at 9:30 a.m. in Keystone Hearing Room 4.
- Tuesday March 18 is the date for the special election for the York County Senate seat vacated by former Senator Michael Waugh who became the Director of the Farm Show. This fiercely contested special election includes Rep. Ron Miller (R-York), Democrat Linda Small and write-in conservative activist Scott Wagner. The winner will fill out the rest of Waugh’s term to November 30, 2014. Wagner and Miller will face off again in the Republican primary in May. Small is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
- ‘Tis the season for signature challenges as contenders seek to invalidate each others candidacies. So far, the Department of State has not posted a list of complaints or their adjudication. The media reports that Democrat Jay Paterno’s petitions are challenged by Harrisburg city councilman Brad Koplinski in their contest to be the Democratic Lt. Governor nominee.
- There are two primary contests where redistricting placed Democratic incumbents in the same district. They are Rep. Erin Molchaney and Rep. Harry Readshaw in AlleghenyCounty and Rep. Frank Farina and Rep. Kevin Haggerty in LackawannaCounty. Originally, there were four such races but Rep. Gary Haluska (D-Cambria) announced that he would retire after this term rather than face fellow Cambria County Democrat Frank Burns in the newly drawn district. In addition, incumbent Ed Neilson (D-Phila.) accepted the Democratic nomination for an open seat on the Philadelphia City Council, leaving Rep. John Sabatina (D-Phila.) with a clear path to the fall election.
HOUSE INSURANCE COMMITTEE HEARING ON HB 1494
On March 11, the House Insurance Committee held a hearing on House Bill 1494 (Watson-R-Bucks) allowing unlicensed employees of storage unit firms to sell property (contents) insurance to consumers. Speaking for the bill was the storage industry. Speaking against were the Insurance Department, PA Association of Health Underwriters (PAHU) and the Independent Agents & Brokers (IA&B). The Department explained why contents insurance is not akin to rental car insurance or insurance for hand-held portable electronic devices, precedents cited by proponents of the bill. IA&B testified that insurance is complex and unlicensed individuals simply cannot or will not be able to explain coverage and coverage limits such as the difference between coverage for full replacement value or coverage for the depreciated value based on a sale now. PAHU emphasized the integrity of the licensing system and said that HB 1494 did not adequately protect consumers.
FEDERAL: MEDICARE ADVANTAGE LETTER SENT TO HHS
On March 11, a letter signed by 204 Members of Congress was dispatched to the director of the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) opposing 2015 Medicare Advantage payment rates which are seen to have a negative effect on beneficiaries. The letter stressed Medicare Advantage’s coverage of 15 million seniors (29% of everyone who is on Medicare). PA’s House delegation included 14 signers including 13 Republicans and one Democrat, Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-17). Republicans on the letter were Representatives Barletta, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Kelly, Marino, Meehan, Murphy, Perry, Pitts, Rothfus, Shuster, and Thompson.
FEDERAL: DENT-CARNEY LETTER RAISES AGENT ACCESS ISSUES UNDER PPACA
Earlier (March 6), a bipartisan letter authored by PA Rep. Charles Dent (R-15) and Rep. John Carney (D-Delaware) urged HHS to redesign its healthcare.gov portal to remove obstacles that prevent brokers from being linked to the clients they are trying to assist in enrolling into the exchanges. The letter asked for three specific changes:
- establish a dedicated call-in line that agents, brokers, state health officials, and navigators could use to iron out snags in the enrollment process
- allow the editing of an enrollment application for corrections or to add an agent without being forced to re-do the entire application
- permit consumers to add agents as an additional ‘assistor’ at any stage of the process
The letter was signed by 75 House members including six from Pennsylvania. Democrats Chakah Fattah (D-2), Allyson Schwartz (D-13) and Matt Cartwright (D-17) were joined by Republicans Dent, Tim Murphy (R-18), Jim Gerlach (R-6), and Glenn Thompson (R-5). A link to the letter text follows:
- The PA Insurance Department is re-opening a public comment period on the August 10, 2013 Independence Blue Cross request to re-structure. Comments will be received on or before March 28, 2014. Details: Cressinda Bybee FAX 717/787-8557 or email@example.com
- Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) disapproved two proposed regulations March 15. They are Department of Banking & Securities #3-51 Assessments – and Department of Labor & Industry #12-91 Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Regulations.
- On March 15, the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) released a list of 2103 requests for data or reports per a legislative requirement. Requests by source were: private sector 16, universities 15; government 12; hospitals and hospital systems 9; non-profits 8; media 2; trade association 1; union 1; other 2. For a full list of requests, please link to:
I-DAY NOTES: April 9 Reading I-Day (firstname.lastname@example.org ); April 9 Philly I-Day (https://phillyiday.com/); April 24 Pittsburgh I-Day (https://www.insclubpgh.com/I-Day.php); May 15 Central PA I Day (https://centralpaiday.com/Home/Registration ).