LEG REG REVIEW 2015, 22d Issue – July 2, 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.

 

BUDGET BILL VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR

House Bill 1192 (Adolph-R-Delaware), the Republican $30.1 billion State Budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, was sent to Governor Wolf June 30 and vetoed the same evening.  His veto sets up a contentious summer of hard negotiations between General Assembly Republicans and the Democratic Governor

 

AT THE GOVERNOR’S DESK

  • Senate Bill 655 (Browne-R-Lehigh) originally extended the authorization for the State Workers’ Insurance Fund (SWIF) until June 30, 2019 but was amended in the House Appropriations Committee June 28 to also serve as a state spending vehicle.  Examples include Tobacco Settlement monies and the Horse Race Development Fund.  Included is a provision stating that 7.5% of SWIF’s assets’ book value may be invested.
  • House Bill 972 (Pickett-R-Bradford) amends Act 154 specifying the commencement of the period during which the owner of an individual life policy or annuity may examine or return the policy for cancellation.  It shall be the date of mailing, the date the policy or annuity is physically delivered, or the date of electronic transmission of the policy or annuity.  The insurer shall have the burden of proof as to documenting the delivery date.  Both House and Senate passed HB 972 unanimously on June 30.

 

SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR

Signed by the Governor June 30 was Senate Bill 622 or Act 13 of 2015 (Mensch-R-Montgomery/Bucks).  It eliminates the requirement that the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee prepare a cost benefit study every two years on mental health insurance coverage.

 

OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

  • Senate Bill 487 (McLihinney-R-Bucks) received a 195-0 House approval June 30.  It limits co-payments for insured medical services provided by physical therapists, chiropractors and occupational therapists.  It was referred to the Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee.
  • Introduced June 29 was House Bill 1377 (Murt-R-Montgomery).  It would impose an additional ½ of one percent premium tax on all insurance carriers.  This money would be allocated to the Department of Human Services Office of Developmental Programs.  It was referred to the House Finance Committee.  PAHU opposes HB 1377 since health insurers have already been hit with a premium tax by the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and a 3.5% premium surcharge for their business done through the exchange.
  • Timothy Reese was confirmed by the Senate to serve as State Treasurer on June 26, replacing Rob McCord who resigned January 30.  His term runs through 2016.

 

WILEY NAMED MINORITY BANKING & INSURANCE CHAIR

Senator Sean Wiley (D-Erie) is the new Minority Chair of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, succeeding former Senator Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) who resigned his Senate position earlier in June.  Senator Wiley so far in 2015 has not introduced any insurance legislation but his amendment increasing auto insurance minimums was adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee as mentioned elsewhere (SB 928).  He is also a co-sponsor of SB 3 (medical cannabis).

 

LICENSING UPDATE

  • July 1 was the transition date for PSI taking over the contract for Pennsylvania CE and pre-licensing.  On June 30, PSI wrote to say We apologize for the late notice on the procedure for fingerprinting in Pennsylvania; We have been working diligently with the Department as well as the Pennsylvania State Police to develop an interim process so there would be no interruption of licensing services. On or before August 1, 2015, all applicants for licensure in Pennsylvania will be able to be fingerprinted at PSI Services LLC test centers. We will publish the fingerprinting process for the test centers on our website no later than July 15, 2015.”  Through July 31, the interim process is to go to www.sircon.com to apply for a license ($55 fee), FBI and State Police fingerprint search ($27.75).  The applicant will receive a SIRCON confirmation page and fingerprint card which must be submitted to PA State Police Records & Identification, 1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110. Going to a local police station is also an option although PSI recommends that the applicant call ahead to confirm hours of fingerprinting and to be aware that there may be an extra local police charge.  Details:  Jo Anne Wingate 818/847-6180 or 303/408-4390.  E-mail is jwingate@psionline.com.
  • In Maryland, Prometric no longer services continuing education.  Those responsibilities have been taken over by SIRCON (Vertafore).  NOTE:  This means that CE provider numbers and already approved course numbers are changing.  SPARKS’ new provider number is 207869 and the 2015 course number in MD is now 43939.  Details on the Maryland transition:  877/876-4430.

 

AUTO MINIMUMS BILL MOVES

By a 46-3 vote June 30, a bill raising auto insurance minimums was approved by the full Senate after Senate Appropriations Committee consideration June 26.  Unlike House Bill 1258 sponsored by Rep. Ellis (R-Butler) which doubles the minimums, Senate Bill 928 (White-R-Indiana) was amended in the Senate Appropriations Committee June 29 to increase the minimum from $15,000 to $25,000 liability for one injury, from $30,000 to $50,000 for two or more injuries in one accident.  Collision increases from $5,000 to $15,000.  Dissenting votes were cast by Senators Pat Vance (R-Cumberland), Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) and Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne).

 

REGULATORY UPDATES

  • The PA Insurance Department approved Highmark’s request to shift $175 million from its reserves to the Allegheny Health Network.
  • The comment period for the US Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary rule extension to brokers and advisors regarding retirement accounts such as IRAs is extended until July 21, 2015.  In addition, the DOL Employee Benefits Security Administration is holding public hearings in Washington August 10-13.  Submit comments via https://www.regulations.gov or by email to e-ORI@dol.gov referencing RIN 1210-AB32 on the subject line.  Those wishing to testify in person must make their request by July 24 via email e-ORI@dol.gov referencing Conflict of Interest Rule Hearing.  Details: Fred Wong 202/693-8510
  • PA Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) meets in Harrisburg July 16.  Details: Renee Greenawalt 717/232-6787
  • PA Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller urged potential drivers for Uber and Lyft to consult with their insurance companies to make sure that they have adequate coverage. Although transportation network companies (TCNs) will provide insurance, drivers are warned to be aware of livery exclusions in their personal passenger auto policies and those drivers with loans on their vehicles need to know that TNC insurance may not comply with the lender’s requirements.  https://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=17319&PageID=502655&mode=2&contentid=https://pubcontent.state.pa.us/publishedcontent/publish/cop_hhs/insurance/news_and_media/news___media/articles/june_24__2015.html
  • The PA Insurance Department invites public review of Affordable Care Act rate filings at

https://www.insurance.pa.gov/portal/server.pt/community/insurance_pa_gov/4679

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