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.
GOVERNOR SIGNS NAVIGATOR BILL
On June 19, Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 293 (Eichelberger-R-Blair) into law as Act 7 of 2015. This law mandates that Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) navigators and certified application counselors register with the PA Insurance Department and have individuals working for them undergo criminal background checks. SB 293 also gives navigators and certified application counselors the authority to refer an individual to an insurance producer. The law specifies limitations on navigator et al activity. Among other things, they may not:
- Sell, solicit or negotiate insurance
- Urge or advise a prospective purchaser to buy a particular policy or to insure with a particular company
- Initiate sales over the phone or otherwise
It culminates a three-year effort by the PA Association of Health Underwriters. Following is a link to the actual language of Act 7. https://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2015&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=0293&pn=0988
MCO ISSUE EMERGES
A possible tax on enrollees in Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) and possibly other health insurance plans is receiving opposition from the insurance community and NFIB. Proposed by the Wolf Administration at a closed session with insurers, the assessment might impose a $250 surcharge on enrolled individuals. The rationale is that the Federal Government ruled that Pennsylvania was non-compliant with Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 rules regarding MCOs that service the Medicaid population and that a broad-based fee had to be levied on “a wide range of managed care organizations.” The July 25, 2014, letter from HHS stated that action must be taken by the end of this legislative session — November 30, 2016. Insurers’ concerns stemmed from the lack of proposal specifics and that the additional tax might be used to fund the 2015-16 FY State Budget since PA looks forward to a tight budget this coming fiscal year. Independence Blue Cross also communicated with brokers that this assessment would simply make health insurance more expensive to consumers and small businesses that can ill afford a price increase now. PAHU also raised this issue at the June 17 meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Health Underwriters.
Architect of the current Producer Licensing Law (Act 147) Jack Yanosky retired from the PA Insurance Department. He was instrumental in crafting Act 147 and also a 2002 law which enabled insurance producers to market DEP’s Mine Subsidence Insurance program and receive a first-year commission. At the Department, he oversaw operations of the licensing function and various enforcement activities. In the short term, his duties will be performed by Insurance Department veteran Robert Downey with Adrian Force as an active contact at Producer Licensing (firstname.lastname@example.org). Those wishing to thank him for his record of public service should send notes to Judith A. Yanosky c/o Myers-Pepper Insurance Agency, LLC, 183 East Water Street, Muncy, PA 17756. PERSONAL NOTE: Jack has been a faithful steward of his responsibilities and as been a fair and impartial manager of producer licensing. Please join me in wishing him well. Vince
CE VENDOR CHANGES JULY 1
In a related note, insurance producers should note that effective July 1, Prometric will no longer be handing the pre-licensing and CE functions. The new vendor is PSI. No information is yet available as to whom the contact information will be. Transcript activity will still be done by SIRCON (www.sircon.com/Pennsylvania )
Following is the link to PSI: https://www.psionline.com/PROGRAMS/PA%20ins%20pkg%20-%205-20-15.pdf
PROPERTY TAX BILL RE-INTRODUCED
On June 18, Senator Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill) reintroduced Senate Bill 76 to replace school property taxes with an increase in the Personal Income Tax, the rate of the sales tax and an expansion of the sales tax to certain professions. Unlike the sales tax expansion proposal advanced by the Wolf Administration, revenue raised by SB 76 would not be used to fund other programs as its purpose is to tackle the issue of school property taxes. Also, unlike the Wolf proposal or House Bill 504 (Saylor-R-York), another school property tax relief bill which passed the House, SB 76 does not include general areas such as “employee benefits, human resources, investing advising”, etc. which were criticized as being too overly broad. Rather, the bill specifies specific codes used by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Following are codes of interest to insurance producers and companies:
Code Industry Senate Bill 76 (included or not)
524210 Insurance agencies NOT
524292 TPAs NOT
524298 Actuarial services NOT
524113 Life insurance companies NOT
524114 Health insurance companies NOT
524126 Property/casualty companies NOT
(Including Crop Insurance)
Senate Bill 76 has 23 sponsors out of a 50 Senator chamber. The bipartisan sponsorship includes 16 Republicans and 7 Democrats. Some are in leadership positions. Senator Richard Alloway (R-Franklin) is Majority Caucus Secretary. Senator Bob Mensch (R-Lehigh/Montgomery) is Majority Caucus Chair. Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) is Majority Appropriations Committee Chair. Senator Argall is Majority Policy Committee Chair as is his Democratic counterpart, Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton). Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) is Minority Caucus Administrator.
- Sen. John Rafferty (R-Chester/Montgomery/Berks) declared his candidacy for Attorney General.
- Former Democratic Rep. Ed Nielson may return to the General Assembly in an August 11 special election to fill the remaining term of Rep. John Sabatina (D-Phila.) who won a special election for the Senate in May.
- Delaware County politics just became more complicated with the entry of write-in Republican candidate Lisa Esler into the August 4 special election race. Esler faces Democrat Leanne-Krueger-Braneky and Republican Paul Mullen who is also an AFL-CIO and IBEW leader.
- LEGISLATIVE QUICK TAKES… Senate Bill 622 (Mensch-R-Lehigh/Montgomery) passed the House 189-0 on June 17 It removes the requirement that the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee prepare a report for the General Assembly on costs/benefits of required mental health insurance every two years with an estimated cost of $100,000. Passed by the Senate June 17 was Senate Bill 861 (White-R-Indiana) to say that a person’s auto insurance covers a loaner while the car is being repaired and that the dealer’s insurance covers the car while in the garage’s custody up to the customer’s personal auto insurance policy limits.