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.
MORE ELECTION RESULTS LEAD TO LEGISLATIVE VACANCIES
In addition to Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (D-Delaware) being elected mayor of Chester as reported in last week’s Leg Reg Review, other legislative vacancies will occur and special elections will be needed in the New Year.
- Former Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Chester/Delaware) won as judge on the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.
- Rep. Tim Krieger (R-Westmoreland) will serve on the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas.
- Rep. Cherelle Parker (D-Phila.) won a seat on the Philadelphia City Council.
PHOTO APPRAISAL BILL SEES HOUSE CONTROVERSY
House Bill 1638 (Tobash-R-Schuylkill) was vigorously contested on the House floor by fellow Republican Steve Barrar (Chester/Delaware) as accelerating the “steering” of business to insurance company-recommended body shops. The bill says that an auto appraiser may prepare a report through personal inspection as is done now but will add photographs, video and smart phones as appraisal tools. Steering is prohibited by PA state law but insurance companies may establish networks of body shops that they deem effective in performance and cost in effecting repairs. Independent garages have long maintained that they are being squeezed out of the equation by this practice. The House did not vote on HB 1638 after the Barrar-Tobash exchange and action was deferred until another time.
PAHU REGISTERS OPPOSITION TO SCHOOL BENEFITS CONSOLIDATION
On November 3, the PA Association of Health Underwriters (PAHU) weighed in on the issue of consolidating school district benefit programs into one state-run system. Opposing this approach, PAHU said that a top-down system will stifle school districts’ ability to develop their own ways to address health care and premium costs and that currently, school districts are adapting by forming regional consortia to coordinate plan management so that a state consolidation is not necessary. PAHU’s comments will be part of a study mandated by Senate Resolution 250 passed in the last legislative session requiring that the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee submit its report to the General Assembly by November 30, 2015.
SENATE SALES TAX EXPANSION BILL VOTE SOUGHT
Senator Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill) and supporters are seeking a Senate vote on Senate Bill 76 this coming week. SB 76 seeks to eliminate property taxes and replacing that revenue with an increase in the rate of the state sales tax and by extending it to many new occupations and services. The bill uses NAICS codes to identify the newly covered occupations. Insurance agents and brokers can breathe easier knowing that Code 524210 (Insurance Agencies and Brokerages) are not on the taxable list. Financial planners (Code 523930 – Financial Planning Services) would be subject to the sales tax if SB 76 were adopted. Confusing the mix is speculation that a framework for resolving the five-month Budget impasses also includes increasing the sales tax rate and would provide some property tax relief.
PITTS ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
US Representative Joe Pitts (R-16) announced his retirement at the end of the current session of Congress. Pitts has represented PA at the national level since 1997 and currently serves on the Energy & Commerce Committee which oversees some aspects of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Incumbent PA Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) announced his plans to run for Pitts’ position in the Republican primary. Smucker has been in the Senate since 2009.
- The House Insurance Committee meets November 18 to consider House Bill 1633 (Pickett-R-Bradford). This would transfer the administration of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) from the Insurance Department to the Department of Human Services (formerly known as DPW). This move was one of the recommendations of Governor Wolf’s Transition Team on the Insurance Department. Rep. Pickett’s other CHIP bill reauthorizes the program which, if not renewed, expires at year’s end. HB 857 passed the House earlier this year and is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
- Also on November 18, the House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee will hear a presentation from the APPRISE program describing how its’ volunteers advise seniors on issues such as which Medicare Advantage plans or long-term care insurance plans should be considered.
- On November 17, the Senate State Government Committee will consider Senate Resolution 238 (Williams-D-Phila.) requiring that a study be done on public sector use of drones.
SENATE BANKING & INSURANCE TO HOLD HEARING ON MANDATED BENEFIT
On November 18, the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 842 (Mensch-R-Montgomery) to mandate breast density mammography coverage by health insurance plans. The bill’s rationale is summarized in Senator Mensch’s sponsorship memo:
This legislation would amend the Insurance Company Law of 1921 and will extend mandated insurance coverage to ultrasound screening and magnetic resonance imaging if a mammogram demonstrates heterogeneous or dense breast tissue based on the Breast Imagining Reporting and Data System established by the American College of Radiology or if a woman is believed to be at increased risk for breast cancer due to family history or prior personal history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing or other indications as deemed medically necessary by the woman’s physician.
LEGISLATION SEES MOVEMENT IN HOUSE
- Single payer legislation House Bill 1688 (DeLissio-D-Phila.) was referred to the House Health Committee and not to the House Insurance Committee.
- House Bill 1327 (Peifer R-Pike) to reauthorize the State Workers’ Insurance Fund (SWIF) was reported out of the House Finance Committee November 9. SWIF’s legislative authority ended June 30, 2015.
- The House passed House Bill 1233 (Quinn-R-Bucks) 196-1. It requires that summaries or copies of patient test results be sent directly to a patient or to whom the patient designates when there is a finding of a significant abnormality. On November 13, it was referred to the Senate Public Health & Welfare Committee.
MARYLAND CONFIRMS SHIFT TO INDIVIDUAL MARKET
On November 3, the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) submitted a report to the legislature outlining the number of lives and contracts in health benefit plans. In 2015, approximately 2.9 million Maryland residents under age 65 had health insurance under a group plan, a decrease of approximately 1.2% compared to 2014. The individual insured market increased 35.7% from 212,613 lives in 2014 to 288,411 in 2015. The number of covered lives in the group self-insured market decreased from approximately 1.42 million to 1.4 million, a drop of 1.1%. Overall, the percent of the population covered by an insured health plan or other employment-based health plan decreased from 57.2% in 2014 to 56.3% in 2015. This compares with 68.2% in 2011. Details: 410-468-2090
REGULATORY NOTE: The PA Insurance Department established a social media presence with Facebook and Twitter.
NFIP UPDATE: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) issued Notice W-15056 stating that FEMA Elevation Certificate Form 086-033 and Floodproofing Certificate Form 086-0-34 are still valid to November 30, 2015. The Office of Management & Budget (OMB) is completing a review of these forms which are being updated. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org.