Last Thursday, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) took a very important action to advance the cause of removing independent agent and broker compensation from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) medical loss ratio (MLR) requirements. The NAIC’s Professional Health Insurance Advisors (EX) Task Force voted to formally endorse H.R. 1206, the bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Mike Rogers (R-MI) and John Barrow (D-GA) that would provide state insurance regulators with greater flexibility on MLR implementation.
The motion to endorse H.R. 1206 was made by Mississippi’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney and seconded by Wisconsin’s Deputy Commissioner of Insurance Dan Schwartzer. Eleven of the 15 commissioners who serve on the Professional Health Insurance Advisors (EX) Task Force voted by acclamation to endorse the legislation. The sole dissenter was outgoing West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jane Kline, who has always opposed this effort. North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin abstained, perhaps due to intense pressure placed on him by local “consumer” groups, and Vermont Commissioner Steve Kimball did not attend the meeting.
Task Force Chairman Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty also did not vote, as the leaders of NAIC committees traditionally only cast tie-breaking votes. However, Commissioner McCarty has served as a champion of this cause from the get-go.
In addition to calling on Congress to pass H.R. 1206, the task force also agreed to work with HHS on a parallel track to seek an immediate regulatory solution. This effort will be led by NAIC President and Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss.
NAHU could not be more pleased with the decision of our nation’s insurance regulators to formally recognize that independent agents and brokers need to be protected in their role as advocates on behalf of American families and businesses. If you live and/or do business in the states where the insurance regulator voted in support of our effort yesterday, we encourage you to contact your regulator to express your appreciation. These states are:
The support of the NAIC is critical to our work with Congress and the Obama administration to solve the problems PPACA’s MLR requirements have caused for agents and brokers, and more importantly the problems they have created for your individual and employer clients. In a recent hearing on H.R. 1206 held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where both Rep. Rogers and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) spoke in support of agents and brokers, federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) representative Steve Larsen repeatedly stated that the administration was watching what the NAIC would do on this issue before taking additional action.
The next step in this process will be for the NAIC’s executive committee to meet and determine how the task force’s endorsement will move forward. Since the NAIC so rarely endorses federal legislation, the group’s officers need to determine how to proceed. There are two potential tracks the endorsement could take. The first would be to refer the matter to the NAIC’s Government Relations Council, which does technically have the power to speak for the NAIC and endorse federal legislation. However, this group, like the Professional Health Insurance Advisors (EX) Task Force, does not include representation from all states. Another option, since this legislation has attracted so much public attention, would be to have all of the commissioners from all states and territories vote on the endorsement.
No matter what course of action the NAIC leaders opt to take, NAHU is confident that our nation’s insurance commissioners will again express their support of health insurance agents and brokers. As the NAIC determines its path, NAHU will be in contact with our membership so that we can continue to express our support of H.R. 1206 to all insurance commissioners at the grassroots level.
Another way that you can help right now is by encouraging your member of Congress to sign on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 1206. Right now, we have 97 bipartisan representatives signed on to the legislation, due primarily to the grassroots work of our members. With just a little more work, we will be able to announce over 100 co-sponsors!