Distracted Driving: SB 1165 — sponsored by Republican Sen. Kate Brophy McGee — has passed the Senate and is now lounging in the Arizona House. It addresses the distracted driving of people texting or talking on their phones while driving.
The bill — if passed by the House and signed into law by the governor — would make that illegal unless they’re pulled over or at a stop sign or stop light.
AAA of Arizona says its survey says 85% of Arizonans are in favor of the ban. Spokeswoman Michelle Donati-Grayman said, “Voters from across the state agree that it is time that we take a statewide approach to this issue and ensure that everyone operates under the same rules. Legislators should rest assured that this is something their constituents overwhelmingly support.”
Source link: Your Valley
Work Comp Premiums Down: The California Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau says California’s workers’ compensation rates continue to drop. They fell 4% in 2018 over 2017 and 6% below 2016.
Other findings in the WCIRB report:
• The average rate per $100 of payroll of $2.25 is 11% below 2017 and 24% below the peak in 2014
• The projected combined ratio is 91% and is six-points above 2017
• Indemnity claims were settled faster and the ratio of claims to closure is at a 19-year high
Source link: Insurance Journal
Insurance Diversity Bill: The California Senate Insurance Committee has approved Senate Bill 534, which encourages the $310 billion insurance industry to use its buying power to benefit diverse small businesses. SB 534 is authored by Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.
SB 534 extends innovative programs that bring increased transparency and opportunities for partnership between the nation’s largest insurance market and woman-, minority-, LGBT- and veteran-owned businesses.
"California’s nation-leading insurance industry can be an engine of prosperity for diverse businesses, benefiting our communities and the customers they serve,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “SB 534 will continue to leverage the rapid growth of the insurance sector’s role in contributing to vibrant local economies.”
“California is a diverse state and becomes more diverse with each day,” said Senator Steven Bradford. “Ignoring that fact also ignores the proven value diverse businesses have and the importance of making our economy more inclusive. Insurance spending on diverse businesses increased 93% over the few years the supplier survey was administered. I think that difference speaks to the enormous impact this measure will have.”
Since 2011, the California Department of Insurance’s Insurance Diversity Initiative has aimed to increase supplier and governing board diversity in the insurance industry. Through surveys administered by the Department to insurers since 2012, critical data has revealed important findings on diversity in the industry.
The Department’s surveys have seen procurement between insurers and California’s diverse-owned businesses increase by 93% over a five-year period, from $930 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion in 2017.
SB 534 will reauthorize the Insurance Supplier Diversity Survey, which expired in January 2019, and expand it to include LGBT- and veteran-owned businesses. In addition SB 534 will continue the Department of Insurance’s governing board survey and extend the Insurance Diversity Task Force, comprised of up to 15 members representing insurance companies, experts in supplier and governing board diversity, and minority, women, disabled-veteran or veteran, and LGBT business enterprises.
Source link: California Department of Insurance
Medicare Workshop to be Offered in Coeur d’Alene: A free Medicare Workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held Thursday, April 18 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hospice of North Idaho Community Building, 2290 W. Prairie Ave., Coeur d’Alene. Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.
Medicare workshops are designed to introduce the various parts of Medicare and to share some of the costs and benefits associated with the program. Sessions cover enrollment timeframes for Medigap, Medicare Advantage, prescription drug plans, and how the different parts of Medicare work together.
Staff members with the state’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program, a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance, conduct the workshops. To register for the upcoming session, please contact the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422.
Idaho — Cease & Desist Order: A cease and desist order for soliciting health insurance clients without being properly licensed to do so in Idaho has been issued to Makina Health, the Department of Insurance announced.
The order immediately prevents Makina Health or any entity with the word ‘Makina’ in its name from engaging in the business of transacting insurance in the state of Idaho. The actions of Makina, which operates as a private purchasing cooperative based out of Texas, are in violation of Idaho Code § 41-213(1)(a).
Acting on a tip from the public, the Department began investigating Makina this past December following an allegation the company was soliciting self-funded health care plans in the Gem State. The company maintained a website touting health plans labeled “fantastic options for the value.” Idaho Code § 41-4003(3) provides that self-funded plans, including multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) that operate within Idaho must be registered with the Department. Makina violated this code by acting as a MEWA in the state of Idaho.
“We have a responsibility to protect Idaho consumers by making sure the insurance producers with whom they do business are properly licensed under the Idaho Insurance Code,” said Director Dean Cameron.
Makina may file a request for a hearing in this matter. A copy of the Makina Order is available on the Department website.
Asbestos Superfund Removal: Montana’s asbestos-filled vermiculite mine in Libby has been taken off of the Superfund list. It appears — at least to the federal government — that the 17-year project is finished.
Or at least close to finished.
It’s a processing plant owned by W.R. Grace. The mine polluted the Montana cities of Libby and Troy until it was closed down in 1990. Over 400 people are said to have died because of asbestos exposure and another 3,000 became sick. People in that area are still being diagnosed with asbestos poisoning today.
The cost of the cleanup has been estimated at $596 million. Two other sites in the area are still on the superfund list.
Source link: Insurance Journal
From the Department of Insurance: The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently announced the following Proposed Rulemaking hearing:
Network Adequacy Compliance Requirements
Rules affected: OAR 836-053-0320, 836-053-0330
Need for Rules:
Oregon adopted its network adequacy requirements through House Bill 2468 in 2015 and adoption of related administrative rules in 2016. The Oregon process allows insurers to demonstrate its networks are adequate by submitting to the department evidence of compliance with a nationally-recognized standard.
Acceptable nationally-recognized standards were established in administrative rule and included federal network adequacy standards applicable to Medicare Advantage plans, adjusted to reflect the age demographics of the enrollees in the plan or federal network adequacy standards applicable to Qualified Health Benefit Plans as outlined in the Final United States Department of Health and Human Services Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters and Letter to Issuers in the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) no longer conducts network adequacy compliance reviews for Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and now defers to state processes to determine compliance. CMS relies on insurers’ accreditation with an HS-recognized accrediting entity for states without authority and means to conduct network adequacy reviews.
At the time Oregon’s current network adequacy rules were adopted, the rulemaking advisory committee considered whether accreditation with an HHS-recognized accrediting entity would be an acceptable nationally-recognized standard and determined the accreditation process would not provide sufficient evidence that networks are adequate.
The proposed amendments to the rules remove the federal network adequacy standards applicable to QHPs as an acceptable nationally-recognized standard to use in demonstrating network adequacy. The proposed rules also provide clarification requested by the external rulemaking advisory committee on:
• The applicability of the annual report required in OAR 836-053-0320 to networks associated with health benefit plans currently in force and to those health benefit plans currently being sold.
• The evidence of compliance with a nationally-recognized standard should be based on compliance as of December 31 of the calendar year immediately preceding the March 31 reporting date.
• How the Medicare Advantage network adequacy standards must be adjusted to reflect the age demographics of the enrollees in the plan.
Filed: April 5, 2019
Public hearing: May 23, 2019, 10:00 a.m.
Last day for public comment: May 31, 2019, 5 p.m.
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.
For more information on this proposed rule, please visit the Division's website:
Surprise Medical Bill Passes: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s proposal to end the harmful practice of surprise medical billing passed the Senate today on a vote of 47 to 0. It now goes back to the House of Representatives for a concurrence vote before heading to the governor’s desk.
Second Substitute House Bill 1065 (www.leg.wa.gov) prevents consumers from getting a surprise bill when they seek either emergency treatment at an out-of-network emergency room or medical services at an in-network hospital or facility but are treated by an out-of-network provider.
“I’ve heard from hundreds of people with health insurance who received a surprise medical bill on top of what they expected to pay,” said Kreidler. “We learned this year of two Washington families facing surprise medical bills of $100,000 and $227,000. Both feared bankruptcy and losing their homes. Something is clearly wrong with our system when you have health insurance, follow what’s required by your health plan, and you still face medical bankruptcy.”
Kreidler added, “Thankfully, everyone involved this year worked really hard on bill language that everyone can live with – and most importantly, that protects consumers from being caught in the middle. I’m grateful to Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, and Sens. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, and Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, for their critical work on this legislation and to the other legislators who supported this important consumer protection."
In part, under the proposed legislation:
• A consumer who receives emergency care in an out-of-network emergency room or who has a non-emergency medical procedure in an in-network hospital or facility cannot be balanced billed.
• An insurer cannot balance bill a patient if they seek emergency care at an out-of-network facility in a state that borders Washington.
• Insurers must pay the out-of-network provider or facility directly for care their enrollee receives.
• If the insurer and provider or facility do not agree on a commercially reasonable payment for out-of-network services within 30 days, their dispute goes to binding arbitration.
• A disclosure template will be developed to describe when a consumer can and cannot be balanced billed.
• Insurers, providers, and facilities must include provider network information on their websites.
• Any provider who continues to illegally balance bill may be referred to the state Department of Health for enforcement.
“We are close to enacting one of the strongest surprise billing laws in the country,” said Kreidler. “It strikes a good balance and does what everyone agrees should happen – it takes the innocent consumer out of the middle of these billing disputes.”
Learn more about our efforts to end this practice, Watch one Clark County resident’s story about how she dealt with a surprise bill of over $100,000 and read about one Washougal couples’ struggle (www.time.com) with a $227,000 surprise bill and what it took to bring them relief.
Source link: Washington Department of Insurance