LEG REG REVIEW 2015, 3rd Issue *** January 26, 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.

 

WOLF, STACK INAUGURATED

On January 20, Tom Wolf and Michael Stack were sworn in as Governor and Lt. Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  In his inaugural address, Governor Wolf stressed that he is not a product of the political system and that his personal business success stemmed from his being able to bring different people together to decide on and reach common goals.  For Pennsylvania, he said, some of these goals include education and economic growth with government being a constructive partner.  In his speech however, he did not mention agriculture, PA’s biggest industry, or unveil some of his priorities regarding insurance.  The Governor also pledged to have a government that is more efficient and less wasteful and get rid of outdated laws and “silly” regulations.  Following is a link to the text of the Inaugural Address:  https://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_27356290/text-pennsylvania-gov-tom-wolfs-inaugural-address   Earlier that morning, Lt. Governor Michael Stack was sworn in at the PA Senate chamber.

 

The new Governor also announced his nominations for two more Cabinet posts.  If confirmed by the Senate, they will be Lancaster School District Superintendent Pedro Rivera as Education Secretary and former Rep. Kathy Manderino (D-Phila.) as Secretary of Labor & Industry which oversees Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation system.

 

The PA Insurance Department web site has posted a bio for Insurance Commissioner nominee Teresa Miller.  https://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/meet_the_commissioner/9303

 

SENATE BANKING & INSURANCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS CHOSEN

Members of the Banking & Insurance committee (majority members are Republican, minority members are Democrats) for the 2015-16 session include:

Majority (Republicans)                                 Minority (Democrats)

Chair Don White (Indiana)                             Chair Matt Smith (Allegheny) NEW

Vice Chair John Eichelberger (Blair)              James Brewster (Allegheny)

Pat Browne (Lehigh)                                      Larry Farnese (Phila.)

Thomas McGarrigle (Chester)  NEW         Christina Tartaglione (Phila.) NEW

Pat Vance (Cumberland)                                Sean Wiley (Erie) NEW

Elder Vogel (Beaver) NEW

Kim Ward (Westmoreland)

Gene Yaw (Lycoming) NEW

Joe Scarnati (Jefferson), ex officio

 

Joining the new Minority Chair of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee is Sean Brennan who will serve as the committee’s executive director for the Democrats.  He previously served Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny), Minority Chair of the House Insurance Committee, as well as former Democratic Rep. and now Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro.

 

MEETING NOTE: The House Insurance Committee meets this week to consider House Bill 159 (Kampf-R-Chester) allowing medical liability reciprocal exchanges to convert to stock companies.

POLITICS

  • On January 23, Philadelphia Democrats named Sarah Del Ricci, executive director of the ParkwoodTherapeuticRidingCenter, to be their standard bearer against financial advisor Martina White who was named by the GOP as their candidate January 13.  This is a special election to be held March 24 to succeed former Rep. Brendan Boyle who is the new Democratic US congressman from the 13th district.
  • The first showdown between Democratic Governor Wolf and the Republican-controlled Senate came just after the Inauguration with Wolf rescinding a number of late-in-term appointments made by Governor Corbett before he left office.  Chief among these was Corbett’s designation of former Majority Leader’s Dominic Pileggi’s Eric Arneson as head of the Open Records Office.  Wolf considers the appointment as “murky” at best while Senate leaders regard Arneson’s dismissal as a disregard of the Open Records Office as an independent entity.

 

HOUSE INSURANCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS CHOSEN

Majority (Republicans)                                 Minority (Democrats)

Chair Tina Pickett (Bradford)                         Tony DeLuca (Allegheny)

Gary Day (Lehigh)                                          Ryan Bizzaro (Erie)

Eli Evankovich (Westmoreland)                     Kevin Boyle (Phila.)

Bob Godshall (Montgomery)                          Dom Costa (Allegheny)

Glen Grell (Cumberland)                                Margo Davidson (Phila.) NEW

Tom Killion (Delaware)                                  Tina Davis (Bucks)

Steven Mentzer (Lancaster) NEW              Michael Driscoll

Nick Miccarelli                                                Marty Flynn (Lackawanna) NEW

Tom Murt (Montgomery) NEW                  Ed Gainey (Allegheny)

Marguerite Quinn (Bucks)                              Robert Matzie (Allegheny)

Mike Regan (York) NEW                            Eddie Day Pashinski (Luzerne)

Brad Roae (Mercer)

Justin Simmons (Northampton)

Curt Sonney (Erie)

Todd Stephens (Montgomery) NEW

Mike Tobash (Schuylkill)

 

FEDERAL UPDATES

  • The US House passed HR 33 by a vote of 401-0 exempting volunteer firefighters and emergency responders from FTE requirements under the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Sponsored by PA Rep. Lou Barletta, the measure is similar to one that passed the House last year but was blocked by Senate leadership from a vote at that time.  Nine of the bill’s sponsors are members of the PA congressional delegation: Republicans Barletta (prime), Costello, Dent, Kelly, Marino, Perry, Rothfus, and Shuster. Democrat Matt Cartwright also sponsored the measure.
  • Per Employee Benefit Advisor January 16, here is a checklist of federal 2015 contribution limits:

–          Flexible Spending Account contributions increases to $2,250 but annual limit for dependent care remains $5,000

–          Health Savings Account contribution limit for 2015 is $3,350 for single and $6,650 for family with catch-up contributions remaining at $1,000

–          High deductible health plans maximum out-of-pocket amounts for 2015 are $6,450 individuals and $12,900 per the IRS

–          PPACA spins it differently with maximum out-of-pocket is $6,600 individual and $13,200 for family.  PPACA also dictates a top deductible of $2,050 for individuals and $4,100 for families.  Also from PPACA — the transitional reinsurance fee per enrollee drops to $44 while the Patient Centered Outcomes research tax increases to $2.08 per covered life

–          Adoption tax credit for 2015 increases to $13,400

Details: Keith McMurdy, partner with Fox Rothschild 212/878-7919 or kmcmurdy@foxrothschild.com

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