LEG REG REVIEW 2015, 11th Issue *** April 6, 2015

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.

 

LTC COUNCIL BILL WINS KEY COMMITTEE VOTE

House Bill 753 (Schlegel-Culver-R-Northumberland/Snyder) passed the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee on April 1 unanimously after adopting amendments adding behavioral specialists and others to the makeup of the Long-Term Care Council.  Amendments bring the total number of Council members to 35.  This legislation creates the Long-Term Care Council to create a permanent emphasis by the state on meeting the needs of seniors requiring long-term care.  During the meeting, Rep. Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery/Phila.) raised the point that the Council’s work must focus on promoting long-term care insurance as an offset to rising Medicaid expenditures for long-term care.  Passage of HB 753 is one of PAHU’s top three legislative priorities.

 

COMMITTEE WORK

  • A joint meeting of the House Insurance Committee and the House Health Committee will take place in Harrisburg April 20 to examine the impact of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA) on pharmaceutical manufacturers and companies.
  • The House Health Committee and House Judiciary Committee are convening a hearing on medical cannabis on April 8.  It will focus on law enforcement related issues.

 

BUDGET REVENUES LESS THAN EXPECTED

On April 1, the PA Revenue Department released data on March 2015 tax revenues.  Although year-to-date collections show PA with $368.1 million more than anticipated, March revenues came in $9.5 million less than expected.  The principal causes for March were decreased sales tax revenues ($19.1 million below estimate) and inheritance taxes ($17.5 million below estimate).  Real estate transfer taxes were also short of expectations by $2.7 million.  Other measures looked better:

–          Personal Income Tax $18.9 million above estimate

–          Corporate tax revenue $16.6 million above estimate

–          Other General Fund revenue from cigarette, malt beverage, liquor and table games were $8.4 million more than projected

So far, from July 2014 to the present, PA has collected $21.7 billion of which $4.3 billion came in March.

 

FLOOD RATE CHANGES EFFECTIVE APRIL 1

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) announced numbers of rate changes specified by the two latest pieces of Federal Flood Insurance legislation, the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 and the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 which rolled back some of the premium increases of the previous law.  Nonetheless, following are some of premium changes policyholders may expect.

  • Flat fees (surcharge) for: primary residence $25; non-primary residence single family and condo $250; multifamily residential $250; non-residential (commercial) $250.
  • 2015 assessment per policy going into a Reserve Fund as follows:  Preferred Risk Policies 10%; Property Newly Mapped (previously Preferred Risk Policies) 15%; All other policies 15%
  • Maximum deductible for single and two-family dwellings is now $10,000.  This high deductible may result in as much as a 40% discount in premium.

A link to the FEMA Fact Sheet follows: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1414004070850-3e90be61f9762523126c385a1d7fa95a/FEMA_HFIAA_OctoberBulletinFS_100814.pdf

 

POLITICS

  • Former Representative and now Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro has been named Chair of the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency by Governor Wolf.
  • Rep. Joe Hackett (R-Delaware) announced on April 2 that, effective April 30; he is resigning from the PA House to return to his field of law enforcement.  The political parties select the nominees (not the primary process) for an election to fill this seat which must take place not less than 60 days after the resignation’s effective date.

 

FEDERAL SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD NOTE

On April 3, HHS sent out a reminder that the Special Enrollment Period ends April 30 for those individuals owing a fine because they did not have ACA-compliant insurance in 2014.  This allows them to enroll in an exchange and get 2015 coverage — and reduce the fine for this year.  In 2015, the fines increase to $325.00 per person (1/2 that for children under 19) or two percent of household income, whichever is more.  CMS is holding a webinar on April 29 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. for agents and brokers on Special Enrollment Periods.  For this session, CMS will review the definition of a Special Enrollment Period, qualifying life events and exceptional circumstances that make consumers eligible for the Special Enrollment Period, how to report a Special Enrollment Period, what happens when a consumer is approved and coverage effective dates for various Special Enrollment Periods.  Details and registration at https://www.REGTAP.info/.

 

FROM THE STATE

  • On June 1-2, the PA Department of Labor & Industry is holding its 14th Annual Workers’ Compensation Conference in Hershey.  Workshops focus on WC claims, the legal environment for WC, and medical recovery issues.  In addition, there will be presentations on reviewing the Workers’ Compensation Act as well as a session on how WC law relates to employment law.  Registration information: 800/482-2383 or www.dli.state.pa.us , clicking on Workers’ Compensation and then click on “Conferences, Seminars, Training”.
  • Governor Wolf has declared April to be Financial Education Month.  In making the announcement, the Governor praised several PA initiatives including:

–          Banks participating in ‘Teach Children to Save Day’ on April 24

–          Credit unions participating in ‘National Credit Union Month’

–          PA Higher Education Assistance Agency providing student debt resources through www.MySmartBorrowing.org

–          PA Department of Banking & Securities through its Investor Education and Consumer Outreach Program

 

REGULATORY UPDATE

Aetna has filed applications with the PA Insurance Department for the following mergers:

–          HealthAmerica Pennsylvania, Inc. into Aetna Health, Inc.

–          Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas, Inc. into Aetna Health, Inc.

–          Coventry Health Care of Delaware, Inc. into Aetna Health, Inc.

–          Coventry Health Care of Pennsylvania, Inc. into Aetna Health, Inc.

Persons wishing to comment have 30 days from April 4 to submit written statements to Cressinda Bybee, Company Licensing Division, PA Insurance Department, 1345 Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA17120, FAX 717/787-8557, or cbybee@pa.gov.

 

DON’T FORGET THE I-DAYS…  The Reading I-Day is scheduled for April 22 with details at https://www.bfwrestorations.com/reading-i-day/Pittsburgh’s I-Day is set for April 24 with details at https://www.insclubpgh.com/ticketsreg.php . The Central PA I-Day is May 7 with details at https://www.centralpaiday.com/

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