LEG REG REVIEW 2016, 16th Issue — September 21st, 2016

LEG REG REVIEW

2016, 16th Issue *** September 21, 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 Pennsylvania legislation and regulations impacting 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. Whether it means meeting your CE need or helping with a particular problem/question, please visit our web site to explore how PHILLIPS ASSOCIATES may be of service to you, your employees and your clients.  www.vphillipsassoc.com 

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY RETURNS TO HARRISBURG

The PA House was in legislative session this week and the Senate returns September 26.  There are few session days left in 2016 and little inclination for a lame duck post-election session even though the House has two session days posted after the election.  Right now, here are the session days:

September:      Both House and Senate 26, 27, 28

October:          Both House and Senate 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26

November:      House 14, 15

 

SHORT ONE-DAY SENATE SESSION RESULTS

On August 30, the PA Senate came back to Harrisburg for one day to vote on Governor Wolf’s nominee to the position of Attorney General.  Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane resigned her position immediately after her conviction and Governor Wolf wasted no time in nominating the state’s Inspector General Bruce Beemer to fill that spot.  The Senate confirmed Beemer by a 44-0 vote.

 

HOUSE INSURANCE COMMITTEE MOVES TWO BILLS

On September 19, the House Insurance Committee reported out two bills:

  • House Bill 2241 (Boback-R-Lackawanna/Luzerne) which limits a health insurer’s look-back period to review previously paid claims by health care providers.  This issue has been a hardy perennial for several sessions.  Historically, PAHU has not taken a position on this bill.
  • House Bill 2115 (Quinn-R-Bucks) would direct the Insurance Department to set up a web-based system to help life insurance policyholders/beneficiaries locate insurers since older policies may be lost if the insurer went out of business and book of business going to who knows whom.

 

HOUSE COMMITTEE REVIEWS HOME INSPECTOR BILL

On September 21, the House Professional Licensure Committee held a hearing on House Bill 1421 (Helm-R-Dauphin and Kortz-D-Allegheny) which would require licensing for those doing home inspections as part of a real estate transaction.  What was to be straightforward discourse on licensing turned into a major discussion on “biologic substances” (mold).  Should home inspectors be required to identify mold?  Should home inspectors have expanded liability stemming from an inspection found to be insufficient?  (Home inspectors testifying said no.)  Also coming up was the matter of homeowner’s insurance not providing coverage to the new owner because of a pre-existing condition (mold when the house was purchased.)  Too late in the session to see legislative action, this will certainly come up again next year.

 

STATE LEGISLATORS:  According to news reports, PA House member Leslie Acosta (D-Phila.) pled guilty to federal felony charges.  Continued status as a state representative is unclear as of this writing.

 

FEDERAL LEGISLATORS:  U.S. Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-17) was appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee to replace convicted former U.S. Rep. Chakah Fattah (D-Phila.)

 

 

 

 

BUDGET ITEMS

The Treasury Department announced September 13 that the State Budget Office borrowed an additional $1.2 billion from the credit line established in August to ensure that the state’s main bank account does not go into default status if revenues for this fiscal year do not balance current spending.  August’s $2 billion in revenues fell well short of expectations. — $73.4 million (3.5%) below projections. Year-to-date revenues are 1.8% below forecasts.

 

ON THE HOUSE CALENDAR (Second consideration for most part, meaning that they will still need additional consideration before being voted on finally by the House)

  • Senate Bill 874 (McGarrigle-R-Chester/Delaware) regarding funeral merchandise has a bond requirement.
  • House Bill 1064 (Evankovich-R-Allegheny/Westmoreland) limits liability for emergency personnel treating persons without having access to their medical data.
  • Senate Bill 747 (Vogel-R-Beaver) requires a study of punitive damages awarding in medical malpractice lawsuits.
  • House Bill 2203 (Marshall-R-Beaver/Butler) addresses safety in the testing of autonomous vehicles (driverless) and seeks to support Pittsburgh’s selection as one of seven finalists in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s $40 million award to “fully integrate innovative technologies – self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors into their transportation network.”  NOTE:  The U.S. Department of Transportation September 19 announced that it, not the states, would be responsible for driverless car regulation.

 

DEPARTMENT ISSUES LTC INSURANCE NOTICE

On September 17, the Insurance Department issued Notice 2016-11 regarding the Long-Term Care Partnership Program.  It reduced the compound inflation required coverage to one-percent (reduced from 3% in the previous rule issued April 19, 2008 – Notice 2008-05).  The Long-Term Care Partnership insurance was envisioned as a way to help the middle class shelter assets from Medicaid spend-down to allow them to purchase a private sector long-term care insurance policy.  The PA Association of Health Underwriters (PAHU) sought this change, saying that it could reduce premiums to make long-term care insurance more affordable.

 

FLOOD NEWS

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) issued its October schedule for agent training in Flood Fundamentals and FEMA Mapping Changes.  Webinars are free but offer no formal Continuing Education credits. Details: nfiptraining@h2opartnersusa.com

 

REGULATORY NOTES…The Insurance Department issued Notice 2016-10 to announce that due to passage of Act 59 of 2016, the Department was adopting ‘Principle-Based Reserving’ for calculating minimum reserves for newly-issued life insurance products per NAIC Valuation Manual….Hannahstown Mutual Insurance Company, a domestic mutual property company has filed a request with the Insurance Department to reinsure its entire schedule of policies with Conemaugh Valley Mutual Insurance Company and secondly to surrender its certificate of authority to do business in the Commonwealth.

 

REVENUE DEPARTMENT ISSUES AMNESTY GUIDELINES

On September 10, the PA Department of Revenue issued guidelines regarding how those interested in seeking a limited tax amnesty can do so.  Per Act 84 of 2016, the amnesty period runs from April 20, 2016 ending June 19, 2017.  Details:

https://www.revenue.pa.gov/taxamnesty/Pages/default.aspx#.V-L_sTVqPxo

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