LEG REG REVIEW 2016, 5th Issue – March 7, 2016

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 xenobun@aol.com.  Please email jtrout2792@aol.com supplying both your name and e-mail address if you wish to be removed from or added to this list.

 

INSURANCE DEPARTMENT PLANS LTC INSURANCE HEARING

The PA Insurance Department scheduled a March 10 hearing in Harrisburg to allow for public comment on recent rate increases for long-term care insurance.  In addition to the premium issue, the hearing is also designed to spotlight how the rate review process works.  Anyone wanting to testify at any of these sites or in Harrisburg should register at ra-in-comment@pa.gov. Satellite locations can be found in:

  • Erie: Blasco Library, 160 East Front Street, Erie, PA 16507
  • Philadelphia: West Oak Lane Senior Center, 7210-18 Ogontz Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19138
  • Pittsburgh: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty, 130 S. Whitfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
  • Scranton: The Advocacy Alliance (Media Center), 846 Jefferson Avenue, Scranton, PA 18501
  • State College: Patton Township Municipal Building, 100 Patton Plaza, State College, PA, 16803

DEMOCRATS NAME NEW CHAIR

PA House Democrats have named Rep. John Galloway (D-Bucks) has taken over as Minority Chair, House Labor & Industry Committee.  He succeeds Rep. Marc Gergely (D-Allegheny), who resigned after being charged by the Attorney General with mis-using his elected position to benefit an illegal business.  Gergely is fighting the charge and will continue to hold his House seat while facing these charges.  The House Labor & Industry Committee has jurisdiction over Workers’ Compensation legislation.

 

PA REVENUE COLLECTIONS UP

According to figures released on March 1 by the PA Revenue Department, revenues to the Commonwealth continue to exceed expectations.  Tax collections in February of $1.9 billion exceeded expectations by 2.9% or $51.5 million more than anticipated.  Fiscal year to date General Fund collections total $17.8 billion or $60.7 million above estimate.  Specific categories follow:

 

Type of Tax                           February Collections Year to Date Above/Below Expectations   

Sales                                        $668.3 million                         3.2 million above

Personal Income Tax               $821 million                            $19.9 million below

Corporation Taxes                   $105.5 million                         $43.2 million above

Inheritance Tax                       $89.6 million                           $19.7 million above

Realty Transfer Tax                $33.3 million                           $8.7 million above

Other Tax Revenue                 $101.1 million                         $4.6 million above

(Cigarette, malt beverage, liquor, table games)

 

BUDGET NOTES

  • In the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, the Secretary of Aging said that there will be hearings on the State Plan for Aging.  Previously, PAHU has testified on the need for APPRISE volunteers to work with licensed insurance producers to better advise seniors on long-term care insurance.
  • This week, the Insurance Department will have its day before the House Appropriations Committee.

 

 

 

DEPARTMENT & PSI REPORT TEST RESULTS

On March 1, the PA Insurance Department and its pre-licensing vendor PSI released exam information for the period July 1, 2015 when PSI replaced Prometric as the contractor performing the exam function and December 31, 2015.  In total, 10,365 exams were taken.  Of these, 2,293 were for life, 4,810 were for accident & health as well as the combo life, accident & health line of authority, and 2,385 were for property, P/C and Personal Lines.  There were 524 motor vehicle physical damage appraiser exams and 170 public adjuster exams.  Others included 19 surplus lines exams, 139 for title insurance and one exam to become a viatical settlement broker.

 

Concerning pass/fail rates:  52.17% passed the accident & health exam on the first try; 60% passed the life exam; 61.54% passed the personal lines exam; and 56% passed the P/C exam on the first try.

 

HOUSE GOP LAUNCHES GOVERNMENT SAVINGS WEBSITE

The House Majority Policy Committee chaired by Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre) launched a project where Pennsylvanians can register their ideas on how the State Government can save money.  Its purpose is to identify places where government can operate more efficiently and save tax dollars.  Suggestions can be made to pagoppolicy.com and selecting the ‘PennSAVE’ banner.  Senate Republicans have a similar program.  The Majority Policy Committee is part of the House Republican Caucus.

 

Appointed to coordinate this initiative are Republican Representatives Stephen Bloom (Cumberland), Russ Diamond (Lebanon), Joe Emrick (Northampton), Matt Gabler (Clearfield/Elk), Set Grove (York), Marcia Hahn (Northampton), Fred Keller (Snyder/Union), John McGinnis (Blair), Steve Mentzer (Lancaster), Dave Millard (Columbia), Tedd Nesbit (Mercer/Butler), Donna Oberlander (Clarion), Jason Ortitay (Washington/Allegheny), Greg Rothman (Cumberland), Tom Sankey (Clearfield/Cambria), Paul Schemel (Franklin), Justin Simmons (Lehigh), and Dan Truitt (Chester).

 

DEPARTMENT PLANS 2016 REGULATIONS

The PA Insurance Department announced that it is pursuing four regulations in 2016.  Contact point for all is Bridget E. Burke, Regulatory Coordinator 717-787-2567.  These are:

  • Annual Financial Reporting Requirements (31 PA Code, Chapter 147)adding an internal audit function requirement for large insurers
  • Deleting a provision of Insurance Code which is no longer applicable (31 PA Code, Chapter 161)
  • Minimum Nonforfeiture Standards (31 PA Code, Chapter 84) adopting new mortality tables for use in determining minimum reserves insurers must maintain for annuities
  • Clarifying appeals process for cancellation and non-renewal notices (31 PA Code, Chapter 59)

 

INSURANCE DEPARTMENT RELEASES RESTITUTION STATISTICS

On March 2, the PA Insurance Department announced that in 2015, it had recouped over $185 million for more than 12,000 consumers.  The press release cited several examples to demonstrate the Department’s activities.  These include restoration of funds received by an agent but not forwarded to an insurer, improper payment of insurance claims by carriers, refunding of premiums when the Department concluded that an insurer was charging premiums above what the Department had approved, and success in convincing life and annuity carriers to utilize the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to more diligently seek out beneficiaries.

 

WC HEARING SET FOR MARCH 17

The House Labor & Industry Committee plans a public hearing in Harrisburg on House Bill 1800 (MacKenzie-R- Berks/Lehigh).  The bill would require that the Department of Labor & Industry convene a stakeholders’ group to review and propose modifications to Workers’ Compensation medical treatments “be consistent with nationally-recognized evidence-based medical treatment guidelines.”

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