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 email@example.com. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org supplying both your name and e-mail address if you wish to be removed from or added to this list.
INSURANCE COMMITTEE MOVES NAVIGATOR BILL
On February 3, the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee reported out Senate Bill 293 (Eichelberger-R-Blair), requiring navigators and certified application counselors under the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to register with the Insurance Department and undergo a criminal background check. This legislation is the top priority of the PA Association of Health Underwriters. According to NAHU, twenty-one other states have passed similar legislation. Last year, navigator oversight legislation passed the PA Senate but not the House. The February 3 vote was along party lines, 9-5, with Republicans voting for. SB 293 was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Banking & Insurance Committee Chair Don White (R-Indiana) issued the following after the vote:
It is critical we enact basic and essential regulatory safeguards in Pennsylvania to offset the lack of detailed regulations and requirements for navigators under the Affordable Care Act. I believe it is absolutely essential for the Commonwealth to enact the regulations detailed in Senate Bill 293 to protect our consumers.
DEPARTMENT CALLS FOR BROKER HELP re CHIP BUY-IN POLICIES
On February 6, the PA Insurance Department’s Director of Licensing & Enforcement Jack Yanosky asked the three agent associations, PAHU, NAIFA-PA, and IA&B, for help in making sure that 3,600 children with CHIP Buy-In policies do not lose coverage because of an HHS ruling. The federal agency said that certain CHIP policies were not compliant with PPACA minimum essential benefits (MEC) standards. These policies are called CHIP Buy-In policies. Those affected individuals’ parents need to complete a hardship exemption form so as to avoid PPACA individual mandate tax penalties. If you need a hardship exemption form, please email email@example.com.
IMPORTANT! These hardship forms are for the 3,600 children and not for general use. CHIP Buy-In policies are for those children whose families are over 300% of the federal Poverty Level (for example $71,550 for a family of four). NOTE: Last week’s LEG REG Review published a list of the Federal Poverty Levels for 2015.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE DEVELOPMENTS
- Senate Bill 9 (Stefano-R-Fayette) to require identification of lawful presence in the US as a prerequisite to receiving public benefits such as Medicaid was reported out by the Senate State Government Committee February 4. The bill has 20 sponsors with all but one, Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria) being Republican.
- The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee also moved Senate Bill 397 (Alloway-R-Franklin) to increase Insurance Department regulation of bail bondsmen.
- The House Insurance Committee held an informational meeting about PPACA conducted by Independence Blue Cross’ Allison Beam (formerly with the PA Insurance Department) and Kim Kockler (formerly with NEPA). During Q&A, Beam said that full repeal of PPACA by the Congress “would be quite a market disruption at this point.” She also gave legislators a compliance information website to assist in answering PPACA questions. https://www.ibx.com/hcl_legislative_toolkit/index.html
- On February 2, the PA House voted 199-0 for House Bill 159 (Kampf-R-Chester), a re-introduction from last session, making it easier for reciprocal exchanges (medical malpractice liability) to convert to stock companies. It was referred to the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee.
PHC4 REAUTHORIZATION BILLS INTRODUCED
Reauthorization of the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) is the subject of two newly introduced bills. Both repeat from last session. At session’s end in 2014, the General Assembly was unable to reauthorize PHC4, whose legal authority expired June 30, 2014. PHC4 was kept alive via former Governor Corbett’s executive action. House Bill 327 (Fabrizio-D-Erie) was introduced as was Senator Pat Vance’s (R-Cumberland) Senate Bill 396. HB 327 continues PHC4 until June 30, 2019 while SB 396 has a sunset date of June 30, 2020. PAHU supports PHC4 re-authorization.
HOUSE COMMITTEE BRIEFED ON LTC COMMISSION REPORT
The House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee was briefed on the Corbett-appointed Long-Term Care Commission’s report on the state of long-term care in PA and what measures could be taken to improve quality and diversity of long-term care services. The Commission held approximately 30 hearings across the Commonwealth last year as a backdrop for the report. Not discussed at the meeting was the need for greater enrollment in private sector long-term insurance policies as an alternative to taxpayer-supported Medicaid long-term care. Former PAHU legislative committee chair Scott Crane served on the LTC Commission. A link to the Commission’s report follows: https://wallaby.telicon.com/pa/library/2015/20150204TR.pdf
- The US House voted to repeal the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA), evoking a promise to veto by President Obama.
- Likely to be the first piece of PPACA-related legislation to reach the President this session of Congress is HR 33 sponsored by PA Rep. Lou Barletta to exempt veterans from the 50-person employer mandate threshold because they already receive veterans’ health benefits. The Senate Finance Committee vote was 26-0 following an earlier January 12 US House vote of 401-0. President Obama will have to decide whether or not to allow this smaller change to occur to PPACA since the votes were bipartisan.
POLITICS…Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) is running for a judgeship on the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. A member of the Senate for 12 years, he does not have to relinquish his Senate seat until after the election outcome.
INSURANCE DEPARTMENT ISSUES MEDICAL MALPRACTICE DATA CALL
The February 7 PA Bulletin contained an Insurance Department data call to medical malpractice insurance carriers regarding direct written premium for 2013. Due date for this information is April 1, 2015. Details: James DiSanto 717/783-2118 or firstname.lastname@example.org . This data call is required under the Medical Care and Reduction of Errors Act (MCARE).
MARKET NOTE: Three PA universities were recognized as within the Top 10 Risk Management Schools in the country by US News & World Report. Ninth in the US is St. Joseph’s University’s Risk Management major. Fourth is Temple University’s Fox school of Business’ Dept. of Risk Management & Healthcare Management. The second-ranked school in the United States is University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School’s undergraduate Insurance & Risk Management degree. (Thanks to Property Casualty 360 for this news.)
BILLS TO WATCH
Two tort reform bills have been introduced by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne). Senate Bill 402 outlines liability rules applicable to product sellers (exempting “innocent sellers” from liability if they have not manufactured or altered a product. Senate Bill 403 establishes a statute of repose in product liability actions of 15 years. This means that a products liability lawsuit must be filed within that time frame. Both were referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee February 4.