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.
NAVIGATOR BILL ON SENATE VOTING CALENDAR
Senate Bill 293 (Eichelberger-R-Blair) passed another crucial Senate test on February 17 by being reported out by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a 16 to 10 vote. Voting was along party lines with Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no. SB 263 would require individuals working for navigator, certified application counselors, and other “assistors” to register with the PA Insurance Department and have a criminal background check. The vote followed one by the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee last week to move the bill. That vote, like this one, was along party lines.
This week, the bill is on the Senate voting calendar. Passage of this bill is a top PAHU priority.
SENATE BANKING & INSURANCE COMMITTEE MOVES BILLS
On February 18, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee reported out four pieces of legislation with unanimous votes on:
– Senate Bill 487 (McIlhinney-R-Bucks) to prevent healthcare plans from inappropriately shifting cost of medical care to consumers by prohibiting imposition of multiple co-payments for licensed physical therapy and occupational therapy.
– Senate Bill 489 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) regarding check cashing rules
– Senate Bill 494 (Yaw) to eliminate the requirement that the Insurance Department provide hard-copy reports to the General Assembly on Flood Insurance coverage in the Commonwealth
– 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.
SB 494 and HB 159 are on the Senate calendar for second consideration. This means they are being readied for a vote by the full Senate but a third consideration is when this voting occurs. Also on the calendar for second consideration is Senate Bill 487 (McIlhinney-R-Bucks) to limit co-payments for insured medical services provided by a physical therapist, chiropractor, and occupational therapist.
OTHER SENATE ACTIONS
- Senate Bill 397 (Alloway-R-Franklin) passed the Senate by a vote of 48-0. It requires bail bondsmen to also be licensed insurance producers and poses restrictions on permissible activities such as only doing business in counties where the bail bondsman provides necessary documents to the office of the clerk in the court of common pleas.
- Senate Bill 9 (Stefano-R-Fayette/Westmoreland) requiring proof of citizenship before a person can access state benefits which had passed the State government Committee February 4 was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on February 18.
- On February 21, the Insurance Department issued its annual call to the insurance industry to recommend property/casualty coverage which is not available in the standard market. Called the export list, these coverages mean that an insurance producer need not undertake a diligent search (three standard carriers declining to offer that particular coverage) before going into the Surplus & Excess Lines. Persons wishing to comment have thirty days in which to do so (March 23) to Cressinda Bybee, Office of Corporate & Financial Regulation, PA Insurance Department, 1345 Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA17120. Alternatively, comments may be emailed to email@example.com or faxed to 717/787-8557.
- A Workers’ Compensation “Special Schedule F” data call has been issued by the Department. This report is due by April 15, 2015 and follows a February 9 email from the Insurance Department to insurers offering Workers’ Compensation in the Commonwealth. Questions: Bojan Zorkic, Office of Product regulation 717/787-6968, firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOUSE INSURANCE COMMITTEE CONVENES PPACA HEARING
On February 24, the House Insurance Committee plans a hearing on state mandated benefits and the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA). At issue is a provision of the Federal law requiring states to pay for any additional mandates imposed on exchanges. PAHU has long asked that this issue be studied since if legislation exempts exchanges and forces everyone else to offer a new benefit, the private sector plans would be “richer” and possibly cost more to the insurers. PAHU submitted written comments for this hearing.
NAHU CAPITOL CONFERENCE BEING HELD THIS WEEK
The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) is convening its 25th Capitol Conference in Washington, DC this week. Called CAP CON, the meeting features sessions on the future of health care reform, Administration speakers on employer mandate reporting requirements, Medicaid changes in the states (Pennsylvania is one of three states being profiled), and a preview of likely congressional actions. In addition, there will be general session presentations by a nationally known futurist, a Governor and several Members of Congress, both House and Senate. Pennsylvania attendees are scheduled to visit twelve out of the 18-member House delegation and the offices of both PA Senators Casey and Toomey.
Following is a link to issues and talking points attendees will be using in meeting with members of Congress staff. Central is passage of HR 815, a proposal which takes agent compensation out of the Medical Loss Ratio requirements of PPACA which have decimated many agents’ commissions. The bill has 15 sponsors (11 Republican and four Democrats) and this number includes PA Rep. Tim Murphy (R-18).
Other examples include changing the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act definition of full-time from 30 hours to 40 hours and Repealing the PPACA tax on medical device manufacturers
BY THE NUMBERS…EXCHANGE
HHS issued sets of statistics on how the exchange enrollment went. In PA, about 471,000 enrolled but there are many more numbers:
– The average tax subsidy is $268 per month. The percent of exchange enrollees who qualified for tax credits was 87%
– The number of screens at healthcare.gov has decreased from 76 to 16
– Call centers received 15.8 million calls during this enrollment period.
– Total text messages sent by healthcare.gov to consumers were 23 million while outgoing calls to consumers from HHS totaled 12.9 million
– Navigators, certified application counselors and other “assisters” total 20,000-plus.
– And last, (I am not making this up), number of times President Obama crashed the set of the Colbert Report to speak with viewers about signing up — one
(Content created by HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs-Digital Communications Division February 18, 2015)