LEG REG REVIEW 2014, 23d Issue August 25, 2014

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.

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY WORK RESUMES IN SEPTEMBER

  • The PA General Assembly returns to the State Capitol September 15 to complete a myriad of tasks in a very short period of time.  Two large issues are pension reform and passage of legislation imposing a Philadelphia cigarette tax to fund Phila. schools.  Other issues commanding attention are liquor store privatization and property tax reform although it is uncertain whether either of the later two has enough political traction to see further legislative action this session.
  • Insurance issues possibly commanding attention include:

–          Reauthorization of PA Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4).  Its authorization expired June 30 but Governor Corbett issued an executive order giving PHC4 a lifeline until House concurrence of Senate Bill 1267 (Vance-R-Cumberland) can occur.

–          Personal Lines legislation that allows for a transfer of coverage between affiliated insurers without the consumer having to go through a formal cancellation first.

–          Consideration of PAHU-supported legislation to regulate PPACA exchange navigators and certified application counselors (CAC) requiring a criminal background check for individuals working on behalf of the navigators and CACs.  Those bills are Senate Bill 1268 (Eichelberger-R-Blair) and House Bill 1522 (Tobash-R-Schuylkill).

 

SESSION DAYS       September                              October                      November

House                          15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24              6, 7, 8, 14, 15              12

Senate                          15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24              6, 7, 8, 14, 15              12

NOTE: The 2013-14 session of the General Assembly ends November 30.  As of now, neither chamber has indicated that it will reconvene after the election in a lame duck session, meaning that October 15 may be the last active legislative session day.

PUC SETS RIDE-SHARING HEARING

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is convening a hearing August 28 in Harrisburg to examine the regulation of transportation network (ride-sharing) companies.  Issues set forth to be discussed are:

–          Adequacy of driver integrity regulations

–          Adequacy of vehicle safety regulations

–          Adequacy of current insurance requirements

–          Elimination of the ”need standard”

–          Rules for ‘Transportation Network Companies’

–          Enforcement of PUC’s transportation regulations and geographic scope of authority

Link to the hearing agenda follows: https://www.puc.pa.gov/general/pm_agendas/2014/pm082114.pdf   In addition, there is a public comment period which closes September 11, 2014.  The hearing follows a tense period between the PUC and ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft doing business in Pittsburgh as well as a House Insurance Committee hearing in June which highlighted insurance issues connected with ride-sharing firms.  On August 13, the PUC did however grant ridesharing companies 60-days temporary authority to continue to operate in AlleghenyCounty.

 

 

 

 

NAIC ISSUES RIDE-SHARING GUIDANCE

On August 19, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) issued two Consumer Alerts on utilizing transportation network companies.  The first was addressed to ride-sharing drivers to remind them that relying on personal passenger auto policies as the primary carrier for accidents means a gap in coverage where an accident will not be initially covered.  The NAIC recommends that drivers contact the ride-sharing company to ask how much liability insurance is provided.  It also suggests that the driver understand whether the company policy covers accidents when the driver is available but not actually transporting a passenger as well as when the driver is actually logged in and transporting a passenger.  The second Consumer Alert is directed to passengers, reminding them that using a transportation network company is not the same as using a taxi service, meaning that regulatory safeguards with taxis may not apply here.

 

LONG-TERM CARE STUDY RELEASED

On August 22, the Joint State Government Commission’s Advisory Committee announced release of its final report at https://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/ .  There are several sections relating to private sector long-term care insurance.  Page 31 begins a section which recognizes that there are proposals to create tax incentives for persons to purchase long-term care insurance but does not take a position per se except to say that “Regardless of the incentives considered, there needs to be a greater awareness of the product options, better public education and more dissemination of information so consumers can make informed decisions about long term care planning. “

The report also: 

–          Recognizes the value of an insurance advisor (Page 106) but also recommends utilization of  “independent advisors such as a long-term care specialists or elder law attorney (which) can assist in many ways, including, but not limited to: reviewing fiscal suitability for potential LTC insurance consumers, ensuring potential LTC insurance retailers are financially sound, ensuring aptitude and comprehension of policy features, terms, and rates, and identifying terms in the policy that could lead to written clarification from insurance companies for policy details”.

–          Calls for creation of a permanent state governmental entity to focus on long-term care  (Recommendation #8)

–          Calls for passage of legislation (Page 105) requiring notification to consumers about LTC hybrid products per Senate Bill 1296 which would allow a new option in long-term care coverage requiring Medicaid programs to proactively notify applicants or prospective eligible individuals of life settlement conversion options.”

–          Calls for increased levels of consumer protection (Page 21): “There is a need for enhanced protections against financial fraud and pension poaching. Many seniors employ the services of financial planners, insurance agents and attorneys, the intent is not to deny them of reasonable fees, but additional safeguards are needed against unscrupulous individuals engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices who often sell unneeded products, do not provide full information, or charge unwitting seniors and veterans to fill out applications that would otherwise be free services. Consumers and veterans also need tools to direct them to legitimate sources for planning including financial/estate planning, reverse mortgages, long term care insurance options, living wills, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives, which should be encouraged and implemented in an early and timely fashion.”

 

Questions on the study may be directed to Joint State Government Commission Public Policy Analyst Ted Herman 717/787-6617 or therman@legis.state.pa.us

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