The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a 60-day request for comment on selling health insurance policies across state lines. PIA National will definitely comment and is opposed to the decision as it has been since before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
The PIA believes the Trump administration decision violates the clear separation of the regulation of insurance as set by the McCarren-Ferguson Act of 1945. It specifically designates the individual states as the regulators of insurance.
The controversy began after an executive issued by President Trump in October of 2017. He instructed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the CMS to find ways to make health care choices more competitive.
CMS is just now acting and said it is seeking “recommendations on how to eliminate regulatory, operational and financial barriers to enhance issuers’ ability to sell health insurance coverage across state lines.”
This — it says — will give “Americans relief from rising premiums by increasing consumer choice and competition.”
PIA National sees it as a push by the federal government to control health insurance at the state level and is the latest in a long set of steps taken toward federal regulation of all insurance. Another example is the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) that was created by the Dodd-Frank Act.
It made several attempts to usurp the power of the individual state insurance regulators.
In a statement on the CMS — and Trump administration decision — PIA National said it reaffirms its “long-standing opposition to proposals that would encourage insurance sales across state lines. Such proposals constitute a clear threat to the successful state-based system of insurance regulation, which PIA supports.”
The administration — obviously — sees this differently. CMS Administrator Seema Verma said Americans are desperately seeking health insurance options. She sees the elimination of state barriers as a way to make health insurance more competitive and more affordable.
“We are looking for information and ideas from the public on how to create a more dynamic health insurance market with more insurers participating and competing to meet the needs of the American people just like we see in markets for so many other products and services that enhance our daily lives,” Verma said.
PIA National disagrees and said McCarran-Ferguson gives states the authority over insurance sales and removes the federal government from the equation. It needs to stay that way. “Allowing the sale of insurance across state lines could strip the states of their authority over health insurance and undermine the regulatory structure set up by McCarran-Ferguson,” PIA National’s statement said.
PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile said, “In its notice, CMS seeks to dismiss these concerns, but we don’t find their assurances credible.”
There is a 60-day window to submit testimony for or against the CMS proposal.
Source links: PIA National, CMS
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