LEG REG REVIEW 2015, 8th Issue *** March 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.

 

AND SO IT BEGINS…BUDGET SEASON IS UPON THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Just as sure as the Groundhog gives us six more weeks of winter and we have daylight savings time (so that we can better see the icy roads), we have the annual progression of the State Budget cycle beginning with the Governor’s speech to the General Assembly.  After the speech comes a month-long set of hearings held by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees where government officials will be asked to explain Governor Tom Wolf’s Budget proposal for them.

 

The Tuesday March 3 address will be carried live by PCN, WITF and other public media outlets throughout the state.  Because we have a new Governor, the date was delayed one month from its usual date of the first Tuesday in February.  Media is all abuzz with suggestions that the Governor will reduce corporate net income tax but increase sales and personal income taxes; that he will increase education funding from a five-percent tax on natural gas extraction; that tax increases could be used to lessen property taxes, and so forth… Schedule details for the broadcast of his speech:  https://pcntv.com/schedule/?d=2 .  On Wednesday March 4 or later on Tuesday March 3, details of the Governor’s proposed Budget will be available at https://www.budget.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/office_of_the_budget____home/4408

 

SELECTED BUDGET APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEES’ HEARINGS

Agency                        House              Senate

Aging                          3/9                   3/24

Agriculture                  3/10                 3/31

Banking/Securities      3/23                 3/30

DCED                         3/11                 3/26

DCNR                         3/16                 4/1

DEP                            3/11                 3/25

Education                    3/16                 3/30

Governor’s Office       3/26                 3/16

Health                         3/17                 3/23

Human Services          3/25                 3/26

Insurance                     3/23                 3/24

Labor & Industry        3/17                 3/30

Transportation             3/17                 3/31

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

  • Senate Bill 293 (Eichelberger-R-Blair) which requires that navigators, certified application counselors and “assisters” authorized by HHS under the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) register with the PA Insurance Department and complete criminal background checks was referred to the House Insurance Committee after its passage through the Senate February 23.
  • A Senate State Government Committee hearing was held February 25 on Senate Bill 3 (Folmer-R-Lebanon) which proposes to legalize medical cannabis.
  • House Bill 149 (Killion-R-Delaware) was reported out by the House Consumer Affairs Committee February 25.  It would allow private operators with vanpools “ridesharing” to be exempt from Public Utility Commission jurisdiction–assuming that the driver is going to the same destination.
  • Senate Bill 487 (McIlhinney-R-Bucks) would prevent healthcare plans from imposing of multiple co-payments for licensed physical therapy and occupational therapy.  It was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • Senate Bill 9 (Stefano-R-Fayette/Westmoreland) requiring proof of citizenship before a person can access state benefits passed the Senate February 24 by a vote of 40-9.
  • House Bill 60 (Baker-R-Tioga) stipulates that health insurance policies that cover cancer chemotherapy may not prevent coverage or impose cost sharing for oral chemotherapy versus intravenous chemotherapy.  HB 60 passed the House February 24 by a vote of 197-3.

 

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER MEETS WITH PAHU LEADERS

Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller met February 26 with leadership of the PA Association of Health Underwriters (PAHU) in order to become better acquainted and for insurance producers to get a better understanding of policy priorities in the Wolf Administration for the Insurance Department.   The 75-minute meeting (originally scheduled for a half-hour) covered a number of topics.  A key area of interest is establishing a PA state-based exchange as a partial alternative to utilizing the federally-facilitated marketplace (FFM) as the Commonwealth does now.  That goal is driven by factors which include preparing for a possible elimination of federal tax subsidies for anyone not in a state-based exchange per a possible Supreme Court ruling and a desire to have more state regulatory authority in operating the exchange.  PAHU had previously supported a state-based exchange but when the Corbett Administration decided to go with the FFM, PAHU centered its efforts on making the FFMs more understandable to consumers and businesses.  At this meeting, the brokers’ group raised the concern that flipping PA exchange enrollees away from the FFM abruptly would cause more insurance market confusion and uncertainty.  To learn more about PA’s new Commissioner, link to https://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/meet_the_commissioner/9303

 

PID ASKS TO HELP IN IMPROVING THE DEPARTMENT WEB SITE

At the meeting, Commissioner Miller asked for PAHU’s help in improving the Insurance Department’s web site to make it easier to access and to be a better resource for consumers.  Those wishing to help should send their SPECIFIC ideas to Vince Phillips at xenobun@aol.com.   The Insurance Department website is https://www.insurance.pa.gov/portal/server.pt/community/insurance_pa_gov/4679 .

 

REGULATORY UPDATES

  • ACE INA Overseas Insurance Company, Ltd. has applied for renewal of its designation as a certified insurer in the Commonwealth.
  • Meetings

–          The PA Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) will meet March 4 in Harrisburg.

–          The Patient Safety Authority established as part of the MCARE Act will meet in Summerdale March 10.

 

CONSEDINE NAMED TO TRANSAMERICA POST

Former Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine has been named to the position of Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Executive Director of Government Affairs at Transamerica.  The February 24 press release quotes Consedine as saying, “I’m excited to be lending my knowledge and expertise to benefit Transamerica and its policyholders during this dynamic time for the insurance industry.”

 

I DAY NEWS…This last week, three I-Days opened registration.  Information for Reading I-Day April 22 is available from Julie Angstadt 610/401-2624.  Pittsburgh I-Day follows on April 24 https://www.insclubpgh.com/ticketsreg.php , info from Elaine Barnes 412/594-7502 or Irene Barbera 724/836-1510 x 590.  Central PA I Day is May 7 with program information at https://www.centralpaiday.com/Home/Program

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