TURZAI ATTACKS PREMIUM TAX EXPANSION
On March 31, PA House Speaker Mike Turzai weighed in on Governor Wolf’s proposed expansion of the PA Insurance Premium Tax to heretofore untaxed insurance entities. He said that “The Governor’s health insurance tax is broad-based and will mean higher premiums for families purchasing insurance in the individual market, for small businesses providing coverage to their employees, and even for seniors purchasing Medicare supplementary or ‘gap’ coverage.” This issue is of top concern to the PA Association of Health Underwriters (PAHU) for their Day on the Hill April 25 and also for this week’s Day on the Hill by PA National Federation of Independent Businesses (MFIB). Some background information:
- The proposed expansion is expected to bring in $141.5 million in new revenue to the General Fund per the Budget Office. A different number also appears elsewhere in the same document, suggesting that the revenue from the expansion will be reflected in revenues of $569.5 million, up from a current $460.2 million – a difference of $109.3 million. Source: https://www.budget.pa.gov/PublicationsAndReports/CommonwealthBudget/Documents/2017-18%20Proposed%20Budget/2017-18%20Budget%20Document%20-%20Web.pdf
- The expansion will not affect for-profit health insurance companies which already remit the premium tax. What it will do is to include new entities within the reach of the tax. According to the PA Revenue Department, these include ‘health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations, nonprofit hospital and health services plans, and entities organized as risk-assuming, non-licensed insurers’. Source:
WOLF ADMINISTRATION TOUTS WC PREMIUM ‘CUTS’
On March 29, Secretary of Labor & Industry Kathy Manderino and Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller announced that PA businesses will be saving $150 million in Workers’ Compensation premiums thanks to the Wolf Administration. NOTE: Technically, the announcement was Insurance Department approval of a loss-cost filing submitted last December by the PA Compensation Rating Bureau (PCRB). The loss-costs may reflect general movement in premium but are not explicitly a premium change since the premium depends on occupational classification and on a firm’s specific experience. The Insurance Department approval was effective April 1. Details on the loss-cost filing are available at www.pcrb.com.
APRIL SESSION DAYS FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HOUSE: 3 ,4, 5, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26
SENATE: 18, 19, 24, 25, 26
- On April 5 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is offering a webinar on FEMA Mapping Changes. There is no cost to participate but there are no CE credits. Details: email@example.com.
- Bulletin W-17010 was posted to the NFIP web site. It presents program changes for October 1, 2017. Details: NFIP iService Bureau & Statistical Agent, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The NFIP draft of the CRS Coordinator’s Manual is receiving a final review from the Office of Management & Budget (OMB). When approved, it may be found at www.CRSresources.org.
- On March 1, 2017, the Federal Emergency Management Agency made a handier version of the Elevation Certificate for the National Flood Insurance Program available on its website (https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/160). It’s the same form¾there were no substantive changes, and the actual look and physical format remain the same. What this version does is incorporates changes to the programming of the PDF that make it easier to use. (FEMA form 086-0-33): —Both items A8 and A9 now accept alpha and numeric characters.; —If the wrong box is checked in Item B12 (Coastal Barrier Resources System CBRS or Otherwise Protected Area), the user can highlight and delete to remove the selection; —Section C2.a through C2.h and Section E have been adjusted to allow correct rounding for decimal input; —Photos can now be deleted by clicking the “Clear Photo” button to the right of the caption box.
HOUSE HEALTH COMMITTEE ACTION APRIL 4
The PA House Health Committee is taking up three bills this week. House Bill 125 sponsored by Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga), requires all health insurers licensed to do business in Pennsylvania to accept the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare credentialing application when submitted by a health care practitioner for participation in the health insurer’s provider panel. It also puts the Insurance Department as the enforcer for not using this form or for intentionally and routinely failing to use this credentialing process.
Another, establishing the Rare Disease Advisory Council (House Bill 239 sponsored by Rep. Marcy Toepel -R-Montgomery), will involve the Insurance Department. A third, House Bill 358 (Baker), provides for a volunteer health care practitioner certification overseen by the PA Department of Health. It states that a health care practitioner who is certified as a volunteer health care practitioner is immune from civil liability as long as they provide 48 hours of uncompensated voluntary care at a PA free health clinic each quarter.
CONSOLIDATION HEARINGS CONTINUE
Following a sometimes contentious series of hearings in the Senate last week, House committees are taking up the question as to whether the Departments of Aging, Health, Drug & Alcohol Programs, and Human Services should be consolidated into one to be called PA Department of Health & Human Services. Two joint meetings of the House Health, Human Services, and House Aging & Older Adult Services are scheduled with the first being April 5. The second hearing will be April 17. Some areas of concern raised by Senators in the Senate hearings included a lack of specific legislative language this far along in the legislative session, the fear that departments with a clear mission such as Aging will be absorbed into a larger bureaucracy and as such, those specific populations would not be as well served. One exchange generating sparks was the absorption of the Drug & Alcohol Programs Department. When questioned about the lessened focus on this issue after consolidation, the Administration said that a new position creating a type of Drug Czar would continue to highlight efforts to deal with the opioid crisis. This revelation of a new drug office was news to some Senators.
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