California — Utilities & Wildfire Prevention: A hearing was held last week in Santa Rosa. It was conducted by the Senate Subcommittee on Gas, Electric, and Transportation Safety and had several Santa Rosa and other Bay Area legislators attending.
The subject: power companies and fire prevention.
Many think poorly maintained equipment by power companies like Pacific Gas & Electric are to blame for starting wildfires. The company has already been sued for poor maintenance policies and power equipment failures when there is no conclusions by officials that the fires were started by equipment failures.
Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott says it’ll be several months before any conclusions can be drawn because of the complexity of the damages and the fires.
Sen. Jerry Hill chairs the committee and told area residents, “We will not forget this in Sacramento as we work on reforms in the coming months and years ahead. And we will work to identify and hold accountable any entity found responsible for these devastating fires.”
Sen. Mike McGuire of Healdsburg added, “What we’ve always done will no longer work in the 21st century. We need to make a promise to residents that wildfire prevention is on the top of everyone’s list. The Legislature and all utilities must be focused on preventative actions to ensure that wildland fires and what we have seen here in Sonoma County and throughout our region never happen.”
Utilities are doing their own investigations. The emphasis is to avert wildfires and Michael Picker who is president of the California Public Utilities Commission said, “It’s not that we don’t prepare for it, but the scale, the severity, the granularity defeats our resources, and frankly our ability to prepare. We always know that however much we do, there’s a bigger storm coming.”
He was also critical of legislators who are pushing for new regulations ahead of finding out if utilities are actually the cause of the fires. “We were not designed to be speedy. We were designed to slow things down so that everybody could participate … to form the best policies. I share the frustration, but I don’t think that it’s up to me to change state law and the state Constitution unilaterally, so I look to your direction on that,” he said.
Meanwhile, in San Diego County authorities are putting new high definition cameras on mountain peaks to help with fire prevention.
Source links: The Press Democrat, Insurance Journal
Idaho — Director Cameron named to NAIC committee leadership position: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has announced its 2018 committee chairs and vice chairs. Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron was named chair of the Health Insurance and Managed Care (B) Committee. Director Cameron also serves as chair of the NAIC’s Western Zone.
“The appointment of Director Cameron as chair of the Health Insurance and Managed Care (B) Committee gives American consumers a strong advocate who will work tirelessly to find creative, innovative solutions to help states better regulate health insurance,” said Julie Mix McPeak, NAIC President and Commissioner of the Department of Commerce & Insurance. “I am honored to be chosen for this positon and to have President McPeak’s confidence as we work together on the healthcare challenges of our country and the individual unique needs of the states,” Cameron adds.
The NAIC is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer review, and coordinate their regulatory oversight.
Cameron was appointed Department Director by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter in June 2015. Cameron worked in the insurance industry for 32 years and has served 27 years in state government, including eight terms as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and Co-chair of JFAC, the state’s budget committee.
Idaho — An Editorial by Dean Cameron, Director, Idaho Department of Insurance: Governor Otter and the Idaho departments of Health and Welfare and Insurance recently asked the Idaho Legislature to approve implementation of the Idaho Health Care Plan. The plan has raised a number of good questions, and I would like to try to answer some of them.
First, Governor Otter deserves credit for being one of America’s most creative and courageous governors. He has nothing to gain politically by advancing the Idaho Health Care Plan but is simply working to provide hardworking Idaho families with reasonable solutions to the high cost of health insurance.
The Governor actually has two separate and independent proposals aimed at different parts of the problems created by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) – better known as Obamacare. The two proposals address different populations but have the same goal – lowering the cost of health insurance and stabilizing the individual insurance market. Both focus on Idahoans who have been priced out of the market and those who are left out of assistance and both are needed to reduce rates and stabilize the market.
The Idaho Health Care Plan focuses on Idahoans who have serious end-of-life, complex medical conditions and those who do not have enough income to qualify for federal assistance. It requires legislative approval, through House Bill 464, to enable the State to apply to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for waivers from Obamacare requirements. It has two components which work together to offset costs.
The first, called the 1115 waiver, allows Idahoans with certain serious health conditions the ability to apply for Medicaid. This is similar to the current breast and cervical cancer program. Allowing about 2,500 Idahoans with these complex medical conditions access to Medicaid will reduce the amount paid in claims by an estimated $200 million, which in turn will reduce insurance rates by 20 percent for all who buy insurance in the individual market.
While it allows about 2,500 Idahoans access to Medicaid, the 1115 waiver proposal falls short of what critics call Medicaid expansion. Expanding Medicaid would not require an HHS waiver. We would simply be mandating Medicaid coverage of a certain population based on income and would receive additional federal funding to do so. We are doing neither.
The second component of the Idaho Health Care Plan, called a 1332 waiver, helps Idahoans who have been left out – Idahoans who do not make enough to qualify for the federal subsidy on premium costs provided in Obamacare. The 1332 waiver addresses the ACA rule granting assistance with insurance costs to those with incomes at 100 percent of the federal poverty level or more, but no assistance to those with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. It also addresses the unfairness of the ACA rule that provides assistance to legal residents who are not citizens if their incomes are below 100 percent of poverty, but no help for Idaho citizens at the same income level.
The Governor and I believe health insurance is too expensive. We also believe Obamacare leaves the people of Idaho with too few reasonable coverage options. With the Idaho Health Care Plan, we are doing our best to protect Idaho’s working families.
If you agree, please call or email your legislators and ask them to support the Idaho Health Care Plan, House Bill 464. Together, we can make a real difference.
Oregon — Updated Product Standards:
Items below were updated:
440-4978 – Pediatric Dental Forms & Rates — http://dfr.oregon.gov/rates-forms/Documents/4978.pdf
440-5352 – Limited Wraparound or similar coverage – fixed reference — http://dfr.oregon.gov/rates-forms/Documents/4978.pdf
You can find a list of Current Filing Forms here: http://dfr.oregon.gov/rates-forms/Documents/current-filing-forms.pdf
Washington — Corporate Efforts to Innovate Health Care: This is an opinion of the Washington Department of Insurance.
The announcement by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase to form a company to contain health care costs for their employees has generated considerable attention – and for good reason.
The leaders of these companies are renowned for their ability to innovate. We certainly agree with them that health care costs are unsustainable and need to be lower. We’ve been saying that for years. How they plan to accomplish such a monumental task remains to be seen. Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, said the companies don’t “come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable.”
It’s an admirable goal and one that comes with a lot of work ahead. Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon, acknowledges the truth by saying “the health care system is complex.”
How the companies go about cutting costs and improving results is something that many will watch. Companies like Amazon self-insure for their employees’ health care and are not subject to regulation by this office.
The companies have yet to provide details on what they are considering. But we think it’s safe to assume they may have a focus on the direct purchase of health care – contracting directly with medical providers, including hospitals, and finding an imaginative way around the gnawing issue of soaring costs for prescription drugs. We will pay attention to their efforts to see what effect it has on the health care landscape and the companies we do regulate.
We hope they will build on some the key successes of the Affordable Care Act to date – greater coverage, more focus on costs and results that benefit patients. Regulators stand ready to offer the benefit of their experience in this effort.
Source link: Washington Insurance Commissioner's Office