GPAHU Pulse – July 2020

GPAHU - Monthly State and Legislative Updates

Living through a pandemic certainly puts the spotlight on public health resources. However, more than three-quarters of Americans live in states that spend less than $100 per person annually on public health. According to the State Health Expenditure Dataset project, spending ranges from $32 in Louisiana to $263 in Delaware. Source: Kaiser Health News and the Associated Press,

Significant Changes to the Federal Paycheck Protection Program

This month, President Trump signed legislation extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application deadline through August 8, 2020. The new law gives eligible business owners five more weeks to apply for the estimated $130 billion left in low-interest and largely forgivable federal loan funds. PPP loans are intended to help employers make payroll, including health insurance costs, and pay other qualified expenses. This legislation merely extends the application PPP deadline and makes no structural changes to the program. 

However, the Small Business Administration, which oversees the PPP, has made some structural program changes, mainly to implement the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (PPPFA). The PPPFA was signed into law in June of 2020.  It gives new PPP borrowers and existing loan recipients more options and eases the path towards complete loan forgiveness.  The SBA updated several existing interim final rules to reflect new timeframes and percentages added to the PPP loan terms by the PPPFA.

The agency also issued a new long-form PPP loan forgiveness application that encompasses the program’s new timeframes and parameters.  To help small business owners through the revamped forgiveness process, it comes with revised instructions.  The SBA also released a shorter and simpler version of the forgiveness application, Form 3508-EZ, and accompanying instructions.  Finally, the SBA reversed an earlier policy decision and released information on all current PPP loan recipients.  All of the publicly available PPP loan recipient data is available here.

Pennie, AKA Pennsylvania’s Health Insurance Exchange, Gears Up for Its First Open Enrollment Season

its first open enrollment season starting in November.  To prepare, the Health Insurance Broker’s Work Group, the Exchange Authority’s Advisory Board, and the Exchange Authority’s Board of Directors are meeting regularly and taking feedback on a host of issues.

Some of their most critical recent actions related to brokers include:

  • Establishment of Broker Certification Requirements: The exchange is currently accepting pre-registrations for interested brokers. To sell Pennie products for the 2021 plan year, brokers must:
    • Maintain and active resident or non-resident health insurance producer license;
    • Complete the producer certification training via;
    • Attest compliance with all state and federal rules, including privacy and security rules.
  • Hiring an Outreach Manager: Scott Yeager will be Pennie’s Outreach Manager.  He is a licensed producer with a background of working at an independent agency.
  • Taking Action on SEP Rules: The exchange board approved a host of rules to govern special enrollment periods (SEPs), including allowing SEPs in the case of divorce, when an enrollee or dependent dies, and if a person becomes newly eligible for premium subsidies due to a reduction in income.  The board also approved the creation of SEPs for exceptional circumstances, including natural disasters, system outages or backlog, or personal medical emergencies, among others. Finally, they adopted principles to govern Pennie’s SEP verification rules.

The Pennie Health Insurance Broker’s Work Group meets monthly via teleconference. All GPAHU members are welcome to participate in these calls.  Just reach out to Charles Angelo at the Exchange Authority.

New Remote Option for Pennsylvania Insurance License Exams

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department recently authorized a remote testing option for all insurance license exams. Remote license testing began on July 1, 2020.  This allows candidates to sit for an exam from their preferred location, eliminating travel and COVID-19 concerns.

Exam candidates opting for remote testing must have a computer with a webcam; smartphones and tablets are not compatible with the technical requirements. The candidates’ devices will be tested for technology compatibility when they register and opt for remote testing. If their devices or internet connection do not meet the criteria, candidates will need to schedule an appointment at a physical testing location. Pennsylvania’s exam vendor, PSI, currently offers testing at ten physical locations in various cities. For more information, visit the department’s Licensees page.

Check This Out!

If you want to expand your health policy knowledge beyond this newsletter, here is a resource to check out!

An excellent resource for policy reports on COVID-19, or almost any topic, is the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS’s whole job is to provide timely, objective, and authoritative research and analysis to all Congressional Members and Committees, regardless of political party affiliation. They make all of their reports publicly available and searchable, free of charge!

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