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Trump Administration & Insurance: Regulations to the FSOC

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fitch Ratings says the Trump administration will help ease some insurance regulatory burdens. However, maybe not right off the bat and not directly. The not directly is because states — as you know — primarily regulate insurance.

 

The ratings firm said the president elect has promised deregulation and more help for business in that direction. A Republican Congress agrees. Fitch says this is where insurance will see the most help.

 

One of the areas Fitch points out is the Dodd-Frank Act. It could see outright repeal or — at the least — serious amending. Within Dodd-Frank is the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). It is charged with determining which businesses are too big to fail.

 

To date three insurers — AIG, MetLife and Prudential — have been given that designation. MetLife filed suit and managed to get the designation overturned by a federal judge. The Obama administration is appealing that decision.

 

Fitch says a Trump administration may not push the appeal.

 

Realistically, Justin Schardin of the Bipartisan Policy Institute Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative said many in the industry hope the new administration will do away with the FSOC completely. He predicts that could likely happen.

 

“FSOC as we know it will not survive the incoming administration and Congress, nor will the SIFI experiment. And since designating SIFIs is FSOC's only significant power, it's not clear what else the council will do beyond the basics of providing a forum for its members to meet and monitor financial stability,” Schardin said.

 

Defending the FSOC and current criticism is U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew who oversees the council. He says it’s important and needed and must be kept. “We’ve been fact-based and analytical in our approach. And we’ve acted only occasionally but prudently and cautiously when risks have required a response. We must resist complacency and remain vigilant to future unrest. I expect the council to continue its mission with skill, care and diligence,” Lew said.

 

That may be so but the federal judge that changed MetLife’s designation and many Republicans say the council is secretive and unwilling to share information.

 

One change PIA National hopes the Trump administration will make in Dodd-Frank is the elimination of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO). Jon Gentile is the PIA National Vice President of Government Relations. He said, “A June 2013 report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found the state-based system of insurance regulation helped to mitigate the negative effects of the financial crisis on our industry. This report highlights the unnecessary bureaucracy that the FIO represents. Our longstanding and robust state-based insurance regulatory regime does not require this level of federal oversight.”

 

PIA contends if the Trump administration is serious about undoing burdensome federal regulation the FIO is a good place to start. “Doing so would reaffirm that regulation of insurance should continue to be the responsibility of the states. PIA will remain vigilant in its efforts to ensure that no new paths to the federal regulation of insurance are created as part of any Dodd-Frank rollback,” Gentile said.

 

Other changes? Fitch says look for a possible review of Department of Labor rules that create a best interest fiduciary standard for investment advice for retirement accounts and annuities. Tax code changes could benefit insurers in the same area.

 

Another problem for insurers could be the loss of the appeal of offshore tax shelters.

 

Source links: Two from Insurance Journallink 1, link 2, PIA National

 

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Trump  Trump Administration & Insurance: Regulations to t  Weekly Industry News 

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ObamaCare Critic Next Health and Human Services Secretary

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Six-term Congressman and chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price of Georgia has been tabbed to run the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Price — who is an orthopedic surgeon — contends ObamaCare interferes with the ability of doctors and patients to make medical decisions.

 

“Premiums have gone up, not down. Many Americans lost the health coverage they were told time and time again by the president that they could keep. Choices are fewer,” Price said recently.

 

The nod is just that a nomination. Price must be approved by the Senate.

 

Trump has made the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare a high priority for his early days in office. Price — as HHS Secretary — would play a big role in the goal. What Trump hasn’t been in his attacks on the Affordable Care Act is specific. Price — on the other hand — has been. Last week he said he imagines the repeal and replacement will look a lot like the bill President Obama vetoed last year.

 

Among other things the Empowering Patients First Act of 2015 gave tax credits for people to buy policies on the individual market. The credits and how much depending on age and went from $1,200 for people 18 to 35 to $3,000 for those 50 and over. It gave more incentives for health savings accounts (HSA) and allowed for the sale of insurance across state lines.

 

The bill also puts together high-risk pools to help those rejected by carriers on the individual market. Usually those are people with high cost pre-existing conditions.

 

It also does away with the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies to help some middle-class Americans purchase health insurance. The bill also cut the tax penalties for those refusing to buy insurance and a bunch of taxes designed to support the expansion of health care coverage for those that can’t afford coverage.

 

The bill had a two-year implementation date to give people time to get used to the change.

 

Price has been an opponent of the law since its inception. In 2011 he said, “The purpose of health reform should be to advance accessibility, affordability, quality, responsiveness, and innovation. None of these are improved.”

 

These days he likes House Speaker Paul Ryan’s A Better Way plan. “It's time for a better way to put patients, families, and doctors back in charge of medical decisions. President Obama and Democrats must put their pride and politics aside so that we can start over with a Better Way — a step-by-step plan to give every American access to quality, affordable health care,” Price said.

 

On his nomination, Price said, “There is much work to be done to ensure we have a health care system that works for patients, families, and doctors; that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit.”

 

Source links: MSN, Fox News, CNN

 

 

Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  ObamaCare Critic Next Health and Human Services Se  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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Oregon’s Corporation Taxing Measure 97 Push Not Done Yet

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

 

For Oregon companies with $25 million in income — and that’s not profit but income — the defeated Measure 97 would have imposed a 2.5% tax on those dollars. Oregonians agreed wholeheartedly — 59% to 40% — the measure was a sales tax on business and not a good idea. Most Oregon voters knew it would ripple through the economy and end up as a 10% tax on most products for consumers.

 

Proponents — not heeding the overwhelming defeat by the voters — vow to go to next year’s Oregon Legislature to get it to pass something similar. Last week a coalition called A Better Oregon said, to start, it wants the Legislature to pass a bill that requires corporations to disclose what they pay in Oregon taxes. Spokesman Brian Rudiger who is the executive director for SEIU Local 503 said, “We know broadly what the overall corporate tax burden is, but we think voters deserve to know how much Comcast is paying as an individual corporation, how much Chevron is paying as an individual corporation. We will be looking to support a policy that would mandate that.”

 

A big problem in the Legislature for A Better Oregon — however — is it does not have a specific plan. Andrea Paluso of Family Forward Oregon said, “We don't want to push forward a revenue solution that happens on the backs of working families or small business. We believe the focus should remain on the largest corporations doing business in our state.”

 

Opponents like Oregon Business Association President Ryan Deckert said there’s a reason the other 49 states haven’t enacted something like this. It puts homegrown firms at a big disadvantage and his group likes the new idea even less.

 

“The ink is barely dry on election 2016 and the proponents of Measure 97 are already back on the attack proposing a law that would be unique to Oregon; asking our businesses to open up all their books for competitors, lawyers…etc. to use against them,” Deckert said.

 

Experts — like University of Oregon economics professor Tim Duy — say the proponents are going to struggle to get anything passed in the Legislature because of the huge percentage of defeat for Measure 97. “Measure 97 (was) far too big and not well structured. As a consequence, (supporters) lost some bargaining power had they started with a smaller and less disruptive tax,” he said.

 

To be fair, the Oregon business community has indicated a willingness to help the state generate more revenue but wants spending controls and how the state puts that revenue to work as part of a deal.

 

Source link: Portland Business Journal

 

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Oregon’s Corporation Taxing Measure 97 Push Not Do  tax  taxes  Weekly Industry News 

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’Tis the Season — Some Website Tips

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Websites for companies everywhere are pushing holiday sales and trying to drive business to stores or toward online purchases. While insurance isn’t exactly a high purchase priority this time of year, there are things insurance agencies can do on websites that could drive business in the future.

 

Or so says Karly Baker who is the Website Coordinator at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC).

 

And her suggestions start with the notion that 80% of all purchases made these days begin with an online search. So, having your website stand out in the insurance crowd is important all year long but especially so during the holidays.

 

Here are four tips Baker says will help.

 

Imagery

 A holiday graphic is a no brainer and tells those checking your website that you are aware of the world around you. “Recent activity on your insurance website tells your prospects you are on top of things. It gives them confidence and a willingness to buy from you and frequent updates also benefit your search engine rankings. Google rewards websites with fresh content,” she said.

 

So, if you can, do switch your website’s imagery to have a seasonal twist. But nothing gaudy. Make it simple and with some style.

 

Special offers and discounts

 Insurance policies can’t be discounted but there are some things you can offer clients and potential clients. “Create a special call to action for the holidays. Your offer could be as simple as a free policy review or promote the potential for discounts for bundling policies. The holidays are also a great time for a referral program or customer appreciation,” she said.

 

Email and social media marketing

 Use email and your website’s blog — and if you don’t have one, you should — to communicate holiday wishes and advice. “Use a holiday template to send warm wishes to your contact list. Write a blog post with valuable information like community events or family favorite recipes, and include a preview and link in your holiday email. Also, let people know if you will have special business hours.”

 

Advertising

 Insurance — as you know — is not a high shopping priority but it doesn’t hurt to do some advertising on your website. “Bump up your agency’s PPC campaigns or try out some new targeted social ads on Facebook or LinkedIn. Make sure you are driving traffic to your website or landing page,” she said.

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

 

 

Tags:  ’Tis the Season — Some Website Tips  holiday  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  website  Weekly Industry News 

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Anthem-Cigna Merger Trial Begins

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Will Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia allow Anthem’s $48 billion purchase of Cigna to go forward? The Justice Department and 11 states — including the PIA Western Alliance state of California — filed suit to stop things and say reducing national carriers from five to three violates antitrust laws and isn’t good for consumers.

 

The Justice Department opened the trial saying Anthem will raise prices to consumers, cut payments to doctors and reduce the quality of health care for all and the higher prices cause large corporations to struggle to purchase insurance for employees.

 

Anthem countered and said the purchase of Cigna lets the company lower reimbursement rates and pass those savings on to employers and policyholders. That’s good for consumers Anthem said.

 

The trial will be in two phases. Part one will be the government’s attempt to prove the merger will be bad for large national employers and phase two will be to prove it will seriously affect local markets.

 

Justice department lawyer Jon Jacobs disagrees with Anthem’s contention that the merger is beneficial to all. “Efficiences don’t count if the only way you get them is more market power,” he said.

 

Anthem’s lawyer Christopher Curran countered and said the government’s contention that Fortune 500 companies will be harmed is ridiculous. “The notion that these Fortune 500 companies are going to be victimized here … is not realistic,” he said.

 

While the trial is fascinating, all eyes now are also on president elect Trump and his Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions. Trump has said he’s going to run a federal government that is friendlier to business. At the same time, he’s been upfront about his opposition to AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner.

 

So, what he’ll do is still anyone’s guess and Sessions — an Alabama Republican — has never established a record on the issue.

 

The trial is expected to last a month.

 

Next week — on December 5th — a different judge will hear the also challenged $38 billion case of Aetna and Humana’s $38 billion merger.

 

Source links: Insurance Networking News, Insurance Business America, Insurance Journal

 

 

Tags:  Anthem-Cigna  Anthem-Cigna Merger Trial Begins  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Tax Reform: What Will It Look Like?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

 

President elect Donald Trump has talked a lot about lowering taxes. And for years so has the Republican leadership. Now with a Republican soon to be president and the party controlling both houses of Congress, tax reform is likely to happen.

 

But what will that reform look like?

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to lower the corporate tax rate and the individual tax rate simultaneously. He and his allies in the cause say a lot of small businesses file taxes as individuals and we need to be careful not to leave them out. So his plan is to lower taxes for large corporations that he says, “are having a hard time competing with the rest of the world,” and for “most American businesses which are not corporations.”

 

Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo agrees and he is one of the major players on the Senate Finance Committee who has jurisdiction over taxes in the Senate. Crapo said 70% to 80% of all business entities in the U.S. are small pass-through entities who file their taxes under individual rates.

 

“I have talked with many of my colleagues about this so I’m aware that there are some who believe we can do just the corporate. If we do just the corporate then we will create a tax disparity between different types of business organizations that I think would be harmful,” he said.

 

That said, Crapo does agree with some of his colleagues that doing corporate tax reform alone is much simpler, “The solution is easier to achieve, it’s not as complex.”

 

Some want a complete overhaul of the U.S. tax code. It’s something that hasn’t been done since 1986. But that’s complicated and is not as needed as corporate tax reform said Crapo’s Finance Committee colleague Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. “Everybody knows the business tax rate is the highest in the world and we’ve got to lower it. Why not do what we know what we can do? It isn’t really absolutely necessary that we do total comprehensive tax reform,” Roberts said.

 

In the House, Republicans have put forth a plan to address the small business issue. It would cap the small business and pass-through entities tax rate at 25% and lower the corporate tax rate to that same 25%.

 

Others — Republicans and Democrats — favor a plan to lower the tax rate for the overseas profits of U.S. corporations. The hope is to entice these corporations into bringing their $2.1 trillion in profits stashed in overseas banks back to the United States.

 

The wild card in the whole discussion is Trump. If he wants to focus on both, then House Speaker Paul Ryan will have more to say than McConnell and his Senate Republicans. Revenue bills all start in the House.

 

For their part, Democrats have expressed interest in tax reform and this is especially true of New York Senator Chuck Schumer who has worked hard on reforming foreign profit taxes for corporations.

 

An aide to an unnamed but senior Senate Democrat said Democrats will work with Republicans if reforms are designed to close loopholes and simplify the tax code. If reform slashes taxes for the wealthiest and for special interests, then Democrats will not participate and will work to block the passage of any bill.

 

If a rewrite of the tax code starts at all, it would begin in the House Ways and Means Committee. It’s headed by Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady. House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t commented on the entire code but last year he made it clear that corporate tax reform should stand on its own. Ryan worries that the give and take that will be necessary for a complete rewrite will take too long.

 

That said, he is in favor of some individual relief. In June Ryan introduced a broad plan that will — if passed — turn the seven individual tax brackets into three. The highest rate of 39.6% would drop to 33%.

 

Source link: The Hill

 

 

Tags:  Business tax  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Tax Reform: What Will It Look Like?  Taxes  Weekly Industry News 

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The Holidays — Are You Prepared for Cyber Mischief?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The holidays are a cyber hacker paradise. Companies are focused on sales and customers and not what’s happening behind the scenes on websites. While the holidays are special and quite fertile, that is also true — says a Ponemon Institute study — year around.

 

The study for the Cyber Resilient Organization done by Ponemon for the IBM company Resilient said 66% of the 2,400 IT and security pros they talked to note their organizations are not prepared for a cyber attack and will have difficulty recovering from one. Here are the survey’s results:

 

  • 75% do not have formal a cyber security incident response plan applied throughout the organization.
  • Just 25% have an incident response plan consistently applied throughout the organization.
  • 23% have no incident response plan at all.
  • 52% of those with plans in place have not updated or even reviewed them since they were put in place. And the same 52% have no plan to do so.
  • 41% say the amount of time it takes to resolve a cyber incident has increased.
  • 31% say the amount of time has decreased.
  • 74% found in the last 12 months they faced threats because of human error.
  • 68% don’t think a company can remain resilient after a cyber attack.
  • 66% don’t think their company can recover from a cyber attack.

 

The average cyber security budget for large corporations in 2015 was $10 million. It jumped to an average of $11.4 million in 2016.

 

Source link: Network World

 

 

Tags:  Cyber Breach  Cyber Insurance  Cyber Security  holiday  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  The Holidays — Are You Prepared for Cyber Mischief  Weekly Industry News 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 29, 2016

California — Insurance Groups Sue Jones

 The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) and the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America (PCI) has sued California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. Arguments have been heard in the California Supreme Court over — what the ACIC says — regulations and misleading issues around insurance costs by Jones and previous state insurance commissioners.

 

In arguing before the court the two groups said he and other commissioners have overreached “their mandates with data calls and regulations that go beyond their mission and authority.”

 

In a news release, the PCI said, “The consumer-protection regulation was developed under Commissioner Steve Poizner and issued by Commissioner Dave Jones to address the problem faced by homeowners, whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Oakland Hills and other fires, after discovering they were underinsured because the replacement cost estimates from their insurers left out key elements of the cost to rebuild their homes,” it said.

 

And the PCI conclusion is, “This regulatory overreach trend is driving up costs for insurers and their customers in addition to impairing insurers’ ability to effectively serve their customers.”

 

The two groups want the court to decide this: “Does the Unfair Insurance Practices Act give the Insurance Commissioner authority to promulgate a regulation that sets forth requirements for communicating replacement value and states that noncompliance with the regulation constitutes a misleading statement, and therefore an unfair trade practice, for purposes of the act?”

 

And second: “Does the Insurance Commissioner have the statutory authority to promulgate a regulation specifying that the communication of a replacement cost estimate that omits one or more of the components in subdivisions (a)-(e) of section 2695.183 of title 10 of the California Code of Regulations is a 'misleading' statement with respect to the business of insurance?”

 

Jones — as expected — disagrees. In his own news release, Jones said, “Yesterday the Attorney General's office presented a strong defense before the California Supreme Court that our consumer-protection regulations are lawful. This lawsuit is yet another example where insurers want to block an important consumer-protection regulation and seek to limit the ability of the Insurance Commissioner to protect consumers,” he said.

 

Source link: Northern California Record

 

 

Idaho — Zenefits Licensing Scheme

 This came to us from the Idaho Department of Insurance.

 

The Idaho Department of Insurance issued a stipulated order for an administrative penalty of $25,000 to Zenefits FTW Insurance Services on October 25 for knowingly allowing employees to sell insurance in Idaho without proper licensing.

 

“Knowingly accepting insurance business from employees who are not licensed is a practice that cannot be tolerated,” says Department Director Dean Cameron. “Zenefits has been unlawfully doing business in Idaho and several other states and has been fined thousands of dollars by several states.”

 

Zenefits has been licensed in Idaho since 2014. In November 2015, after a request from the Department and after other states had opened investigations, Zenefits reported to state regulators nationwide that many of producer compliance issues had been identified. They agreed to conduct an internal audit which revealed systemic flaws in Zenefits oversight and licensing procedures. The report discovered that employees were conducting the business of insurance without licenses and that some licensees had access to a technology tool that would misrepresent the hours studied for licensing exams. These findings were reported to the Department in March of this year.

 

To ensure compliance with licensing requirements, Zenefits now requires all employees whose job function is to sell, solicit, or negotiate insurance to obtain licenses, and has implemented new administrative and technical licensing controls. The technology tool previously accessible is no longer available, and all producers are required to complete 52 hours of continuing education courses, including ethics.

 

In addition, Zenefits has replaced top leadership, hired a Chief Compliance Officer, and established a compliance team to monitor compliance with state licensing requirements.  A national accounting firm has been retained to test the operations of the new licensing controls and report the results to the Department.

 

Cameron said, “It is important for consumers to have confidence that they are dealing with reputable agents or firms who have studied, passed exams, and obtained licenses legitimately before conducting any insurance business in Idaho. We will continue to work diligently to enforce that requirement.”

 

The stipulation can be read in its entirety on the Department website.

 

 

New Mexico — Insurance Back Taxes Update

 New Mexico Insurance Superintendent John Franchini the audit saying his department failed to collect $190 million in taxes from insurances is not exactly correct.

 

Franchini sent a letter to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and asked him to review the audit. He says Balderas will find his department did its work correctly and that the audit by Clifton, Larson & Allen used incorrect data in its analysis. The files they reviewed — Franchini said — were not verified as complete or accurate.

 

New Mexico Auditor Tim Keller says the request is “misguided” and Franchini ought to focus on recovering the funds and not this.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

 

Oregon — Rulemaking

 The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently announced the following Proposed Rulemaking:

 

Definition of Small Employer

 

ORS 743B.020 requires the Department to adopt by rule the method for determining whether an employer is a small employer for purposes of group health benefit plans. The Department defines small employers in OAR 836-053-0015 as those with "an average of at least one but not more than 50 employees on business days during the preceding calendar year and who employs at least one employee on the first day of the plan year." This definition is applicable from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2017. The proposed amendment would abolish the sunset provision and maintain the current definition of small employer indefinitely.

 

Documents

 

Notice of proposed rulemaking — http://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Documents/Proposed/small-group-notice.pdf

 

Rule text — http://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Documents/Proposed/small-group-text.pdf

 

Statement of need — http://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Documents/Proposed/small-group-need.pdf

 

Public comment: The agency requests public comment on whether other options should be considered for achieving the rule's substantive goals while reducing the negative economic impact of the rule on business.

 

Last day for public comment: January 12, 2017, 5 p.m.

 

For more information on this proposed rule, please visit the Division's website:

http://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Pages/proposed-rules.aspx

 

 

Washington — Kreidler's fraud investigators earn law enforcement accreditation

 This from the Washington Department of Insurance.

 

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has earned accreditation from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, joining the 20 percent of law enforcement agencies in the state to have it. The accreditation means Kreidler’s insurance fraud investigations unit is certified as operating under industry best practices and standards and recognizes SIU as a professional law enforcement agency.

 

“Working toward accreditation was an intensive process to make sure we are following industry best practices,” said Kreidler. “Our goal is to increase public confidence and credibility in our agency and the work we do to combat insurance fraud in Washington state.”

 

Earning accreditation was a 25-month process that started in August 2014. The Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs looked at 133 standards in 19 areas, including use of force, health and safety, training, evidence control and code of conduct. SIU will undergo the same process in 2020 to earn reaccreditation.

 

Kreidler’s 13-person fraud unit employs two prosecutors, six detectives and two research analysts. The unit receives 150 insurance fraud referrals per month from the public, law enforcement, the state Attorney General‘s Office, other states and insurance companies. From May through October 2016, SIU opened 36 criminal fraud investigations, submitted 14 to a prosecutor and saw 10 cases end in convictions. Washington state’s insurance fraud most wanted are posted on the OIC's website.

 

Kreidler’s SIU works with the state Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors to prosecute criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the Insurance Commissioner’s website.

 

 

Washington — Underinsured Motorist Coverage Rule update

 We adopted the Underinsured Motorist Coverage rule, effective December 11, 2016 (R 2016-18). The rule will amend language and add a new section to WAC 284-20-300 to require that the following statement is included in any rejection form when a motorist is rejecting underinsured motorist coverage, “In order to provide for an informed decision of the potential consequences of rejecting underinsured motorist coverage; the undersigned acknowledges that by rejecting underinsured motorist coverage there is exposure to the risk of not being sufficiently insured for injury and/or damages when involved in an accident with a driver of an underinsured vehicle.

 

For more information, including the adopted rule (CR-103P) and the concise explanatory statement, click here.

 

 

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Happy Thanksgiving from PIA Western Alliance

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 18, 2016

 

At this time of Thanksgiving we express our appreciation to our members, partners and the insurance industry. May the good things of life be yours in abundance, not only at Thanksgiving but through the coming year. Wishing you plenty to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

 

Truly,

Professional Insurance Agents

Western Alliance

 

 

Tags:  Happy Thanksgiving from PIA Western Alliance  thankful  thanksgiving 

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Special Report: What’s Next for ObamaCare

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 18, 2016

The first two weeks of the Affordable Care Act’s annual sign-up has been remarkable. Despite the uncertainty of a Donald Trump election and his and Republican vows to repeal it and start over, people are signing up in droves.

 

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said to date 246,400 new sign-ups have been recorded and we’ve seen 761,899 renewals of existing coverage. That’s 53,000 more plans than we saw a year ago, during the same time period.

 

And again, this despite uncertainty in the future of the Affordable Care Act.

 

President-elect Donald Trump is all over the place as to what he wants to do. Last week he told the Wall Street Journal, Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced.”

 

Earlier he gave CBS’ 60 Minutes a bit more. “We're going to do it simultaneously. It'll be just fine. That's what I do. I do a good job. You know, I mean, I know how to do this stuff. We’re going to repeal it and replace it. And we're not going to have, like, a two-day period and we're not going to have a two-year period where there's nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. I mean, you'll know. And it'll be great health care for much less money,” he said.

 

 

What Trump hasn’t given is details on what he sees as a new excellent program. All he’s said is he’s keeping two key elements of ObamaCare:

 

  Young people can stay on their parents plans until age 26

  Pre-existing conditions will stay covered

 

Other than that, Trump uses a bunch of adjectives to describe ObamaCare:

 

  A horror

  A catastrophe

  A big-fat, horrible lie

 

Republicans in both the House and the Senate — including the party’s leaders — have issued similar descriptions.

 

All this talk about repeal has insurers nervous. Most are locked into 2017 but with a repeal or more repeal talk, look for more insurers to drop out. And that means — says Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation — about 10 million people using the ObamaCare plans will not have coverage.

 

If they [insurers] know the law is ending sometime soon, I don’t know that they’re going to be so excited about sticking around,” he said.

 

A report from the liberal group, the Center for American Progress (CAP) worries about any type of transition between ObamaCare and what Trump and the Republicans have in mind. Even with a delayed effective date, the reconciliation bill approach would cause massive disruption and chaos in the individual market for health insurance. The complete unraveling of the market would occur by the end of 2017,” the report said.

 

In Washington State, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is already preparing for the worst. He belongs to CAP and said he’s talking with insurance companies in his state and with Governor Jay Inslee about how to proceed. The worry? A big gap in healthcare coverage for those now using the ObamaCare plans on the exchanges.

 

We really desperately need to have a replacement plan. That’s the really critical part of this. Otherwise, they’re talking about repealing in a vacuum. I think that is a guaranteed recipe for absolute uncertainty going forward,” Kreidler said.

 

Trump has his ideas of what to do and so do different Republicans. Hardcore conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz, Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want to repeal the Affordable Care Act completely.

 

More moderate Republicans like West Virginia’s Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Mississippi’s Sen. Roger Wicker worry about those getting insurance now suddenly being without. “We’ll see if we can reach some sort of consensus with our Democrat friends on how to make this repeal and replace. Clearly, we don’t want to do any harm to people who are in the system now. We want to be mindful of that,” Wicker said.

 

These are some ideas that have been pushed around for the last few years by Republicans:

 

  The modification of laws to allow health insurance to be sold across state lines.

  Allow individuals to deduct any health care premium payments from their taxes.

  Make health savings accounts (HSA) tax free and let people pass those dollars onto heirs without fear of the “death penalty.”

  Require health insurers and providers like doctors and hospitals to be more transparent about pricing.

  Give Medicaid block grants to the states to let them help insure the uninsured.

  Free markets for drug providers to offer safe and reliable and cheaper products.

 

There are also those in the Republican Party who want to repeal ObamaCare over a two-year time period. And again, that — and this can’t be emphasized enough — and other Republican ideas have insurers nervous.

 

Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2, link 3, Insurance Journal, Employee Benefit Advisor

 

 

Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  Special Report: What’s Next for ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Trump  Trump Healthcare  Weekly Industry News 

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