Arizona — Traffic Deaths Rise: For the third straight year — says the Arizona Department of Transportation — traffic fatalities have risen. The 2017 total was 1,000. In 2016 it was 952 and 2015 saw 897 deaths.
In 2018 the state saw the most deaths since 2007 when 1,071 people died on Arizona roads, highways and streets.
The department said a quarter of those who died last year in crashes were pedestrians. Of those dying, 320 were killed in alcohol-related wrecks and 285 people died in speed-caused crashes.
The number of vehicle crashes stayed relatively static at 127,000 or so and 55,474 people received traffic tickets.
Source link: Insurance Journal
California — Commissioner Says No to Merger: California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued his finding that the proposed merger of CVS Health and Aetna, Inc. would have significant anti-competitive impacts on American consumers and health care and health insurance markets. Jones formally recommends that the United States Department of Justice sue to block the proposed merger.
On June 19, 2018, Jones held a public hearing at which executives of CVS and Aetna testified about the proposed merger. Expert testimony was provided by a panel of academics in the area of health care competition, with additional testimony from consumer and medical provider representatives, and members of the public. Reports prepared by the expert witnesses and comment letters from members of the public, as well as the hearing transcript, are available on the California Department of Insurance website. Jones reached his findings and recommendation regarding the proposed merger after he and the Department of Insurance conducted an in-depth review and analysis of the testimony, studies, and written comments.
Jones found that the proposed merger poses competitive concerns in the Medicare Part D market, where both companies currently compete, as well as in the highly-concentrated market for Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) services, and in the retail pharmacy market. These anti-competitive impacts pose a risk of higher costs for California consumers.
"The proposed merger of CVS and Aetna will significantly reduce competition in the PBM and Medicare Part D markets, affecting millions of health care consumers throughout the country," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "A merger of this size and type, according to experts on health insurer and health care mergers, will likely lead to increased prices and decreased quality. Further, partial divestiture or other remedies traditionally used by the Department of Justice will not adequately protect consumers or address the adverse consequences of a merger of CVS and Aetna. Traditional methods to avoid market concentration will not address potential impacts on service quality, the power to charge excessive rates, or the creation of barriers to block a potential market participant with the resources to enter into new markets.
Finally, the CVS-Aetna merger will eliminate Aetna as an important potential competitor in the PBM market. In the present health insurance and health care markets, it is impossible to create de novo a PBM competitor with the strength, experience, and provider relationships that Aetna has established. Loss of Aetna as a potential competitor in the PBM market is an irreplaceable loss of competition because of the extraordinary concentration of the PBM market and high barriers to entry. If there are any other entities considering entry into the PBM market, they will now have to enter the market in conjunction with a health insurer. Single entry PBMs will no longer be feasible to compete with these behemoths.
For these reasons, I conclude that the proposed merger of CVS and Aetna will have anti-competitive effects and not be in the interest of consumers or health insurance and health care markets in California and nationally. The CVS and Aetna merger will harm Californians and our health insurance market, and is likely to increase drug prices for consumers rather than reduce them. The CVS and Aetna merger will harm consumers in markets across the United States. Accordingly, I request that the United States Department of Justice sue to block the CVS-Aetna merger."
Jones' findings and recommendations are contained in a detailed, comprehensive 15 page letter formally submitted today to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has an open investigation regarding the proposed merger.
California — Jones Okays Cannabis Carriers: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced he has approved three more insurance carriers to offer coverage for the cannabis industry in California. The North River Insurance Company and United States Fire Insurance Company will begin offering coverage today and White Pine Insurance Company will begin offering coverage later this month. All three insurance carriers will write surety bonds for the cannabis businesses.
"The approval of these new products means California cannabis businesses have more options for insurance coverage available to them," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "I continue to encourage more insurance companies to file cannabis business insurance products with the department to meet the needs of this emerging market." Cannabis business operators are encouraged to check the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) regulations to determine the applicable cannabis surety bond requirements for the applicable licensing categories.
Commissioner Jones launched an initiative last year to encourage commercial insurance companies to write insurance to fill coverage gaps for the cannabis industry. This first filing and approval of commercial insurance for the cannabis industry was announced in November of last year as a successful result of Commissioner Jones' initiative. Jones has convened meetings between commercial insurance company executives and cannabis business owners to educate the insurance industry about the sophistication, professionalism and risk management of the cannabis industry. Jones has also organized tours for insurance executives at cannabis businesses.
In October of last year, Jones held a first-in-the-nation public hearing to identify insurance gaps faced by the cannabis industry. Cannabis businesses and insurance industry representatives testified about the limited availability of insurance for cannabis businesses. The hearing revealed that while there is insurance available from surplus lines insurers, insurance gaps in coverage remain, and, until the approval announced last November, no admitted insurance carriers were offering insurance products to cannabis businesses. Jones also announced that he has directed Department staff to devote the resources necessary to timely approve the cannabis product and program filings.
Commissioner Jones hosted a national webinar titled Weeding through the Unique Insurance Needs of the Cannabis Industry with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Center for Insurance Policy and Research (CIPR). In April, Jones renewed his call for insurers to offer insurance products for California's legalized cannabis industry in the wake of published reports that President Trump has abandoned Attorney General Jeff Sessions' policy on federal law enforcement of cannabis. Jones sent a formal letter to California insurers encouraging them to fill insurance gaps for California's cannabis businesses.
Idaho: Idaho Department of Insurance Publishes 2019 Health Insurance Rates: The Idaho Department of Insurance (DOI) has posted on its website the proposed health insurance premium rates and the requested increases for plans sold starting January 2019.
Here is the link: https://doi.idaho.gov/consumer/RateReview/
Health insurance carriers have submitted their rating information including explanations for the rate increases. The DOI will continue to review the insurance carriers’ submissions. The DOI has the authority to determine the rates “unreasonable” if the requests are not adequately justified. In past years, the DOI has successfully negotiated lower rate increases with carriers to avoid having them labeled “unreasonable.” Final rates will be publicly available around mid-September or early October.
“While the proposed rate increases are not nearly as extreme as some prior years, any increase to health insurance premiums make it that much more difficult to afford,” said DOI Bureau Chief Wes Trexler. “We are still reviewing these increases, and welcome examination and comments from the public.” Comments, questions, or ideas can be submitted electronically or mailed to the following:
2019 Rate Comments
Idaho Department of Insurance
PO Box 83720
Boise ID 83720-0043
The DOI encourages consumers to carefully review all of their options with a licensed insurance agent whether purchasing coverage on or off the exchange (Your Health Idaho) once the final rates are published.
For questions about this or other insurance-related topics, contact the Idaho Department of Insurance by visiting doi.idaho.gov or by calling 208-334-4250 in the Boise area or 800-721-3272 toll-free statewide.
Idaho — Medicare Workshops from the Department of Insurance: Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance, is offering a Medicare Workshops:
• Tuesday, August 28th at the Kroc Center , 1765 Golf Course Road, Coeur d’ Alene ID 83815 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
• Bonneville County on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 and Thursday, August 23, 2018
• Both workshops will take place at the Community Family Clinic, 2100 Alan St., Idaho Falls, ID 83404, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
• The Thursday workshop is in Spanish
• Monday, September 10th at the Shoshone Medical Center, 25 Jacobs Road, Kellogg ID 83837 from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm
• Wednesday, September 12th at the Bonner General Hospital, 520 N 3rd Ave, Sandpoint ID 83864 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
This workshop is especially designed for:
• People who are turning 65
• Disabled individuals under 65 or others approaching Medicare eligibility
• Anyone who would like to learn more about how Medicare works
Presenters will explain some of the vocabulary that is associated with Medicare and introduce the various parts of Medicare. Attendees will learn about:
• Important timeframes for enrolling in Medicare
• Enrollment periods for Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
• How the different parts of Medicare work together — and when they don’t
Anyone interested in attending this workshop is encouraged to call the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422 to RSVP. You can also find more information on the SHIBA website: www.shiba.idaho.gov
Idaho — Medicare Workshop at Home: The Idaho Department of Insurance Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) has announced that it is providing Medicare Webinars on a monthly basis. “You can now learn about the terminology of Medicare, the timeframes for making decisions, and Medicare basics from the comfort of your own home via the Internet,” says Colleen Van Winkle, who hosts the webinar each month. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for people who live in remote areas, or who prefer to log into the webinars to get the same information as people who can attend one of several presentations made throughout the state each month.”
To attend a webinar, a person will need a computer or tablet, an email address, and access to the internet. To register, call 1-800-247-4422 and ask to be signed up for the statewide webinar. An invitation with instructions on how to register on the Webinar site will be sent to the caller, along with updates prior to the webinar.
SHIBA is the statewide program to assist people with Medicare and is funded by the state and the federal Administration on Community Living. For more information, call 1-800-247-4422 or visit the SHIBA website at shiba.idaho.gov.
Oregon — From the Department of Insurance: The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently announced the following Proposed Rulemaking hearing:
Updates references related to FINRA Series examinations
Rules affected: OAR 441-175-0120, 441-175-0130
Amended to include a reference to the FINRA Series 66 exam.
The proposed rulemaking would update references to the FINRA securities Series examinations in order to reflect new and changed examinations. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) is the self-regulating body for broker-dealers. Under contract with the North American Securities Administrators Association and the Securities and Exchange Commission, FINRA also coordinates licensing exams for investment advisors. The licensing exams change periodically. Most recently, the new “Series 66 exam,” allows a person to be licensed as an investment advisor representative and a broker-dealer salesperson affiliated with brokerage firm. The Series 66 was developed to include competency questions both on the brokerage side and the investment advisory side. Oregon law provides for dual licensure; however, current securities rules do not reference the new examination.
Filed: July 30, 2018
Public hearing: August 23, 2018 11 a.m.
Last day for public comment: August 30, 2018, 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:
Washington — Risk Mitigation rulemaking (R 2018-11) stakeholder meeting correction:
It has come to our attention our email notice sent on July 23, regarding the Risk Mitigation rulemaking (R 2018-11) working draft and stakeholder meeting, listed the meeting date as August 10, 2018. This date is incorrect.
Please note the correct date and time of the Stakeholder meeting as follows:
When: August 9, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.
Where: 5000 Capitol Blvd SE, Tumwater, WA 98501
We hope you can attend on August 9th. If our error has caused a scheduling conflict, but you still wish to attend, a member of the rulemaking team will be available on August 10th at 11:00am to go over the meeting agenda again.
Our sincerest apologies for the error and any confusion it may have caused.
If you have any questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
Washington — From the Department of Insurance: Title rating and advisory organization rule adopted
We adopted the title insurance rating and advisory organization rule (R 2017-06) on July 26th, 2018. The rule will take effect on August 26th, 2018. The adopted rule establishes the following; the fee for a license as a title rating organization, the licensing requirements that an applicant for a license as a title rating organization must comply with, require a title rating organization to periodically update its title insurance rate filings, and enable the Commissioner to recover the costs of the Commissioner’s examination of a title rating organization from the title rating organization.
For more information, including the adopted rule (CR-103P) and the concise explanatory statement, please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/title-insurance-rating-and-advisory-organizations-r-2017-06?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=
Notice expedited rule on definition of earned surplus
The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has proposed an expedited rule on the definition of earned surplus (R 2018-05). The rule seeks to remove outdated references to an old form. The new language will still provide updated information without reference outdated documents.
This rule is being proposed using an expedited rulemaking process that will eliminate the need for the Commissioner to hold a public hearing. If you object to the use of the expedited rulemaking process, you must express your objection in writing by October 2, 2018 and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, including the expedited rule (CR-105), please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/definition-earned-surplus-r-2018-05?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=
Washington — Kreidler Tells Kaiser to write policy to treat transgender women fairly: Under the direction of Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, Inc. have reversed their practice of denying breast augmentation, or chest reconstruction, for transgender women. View the agreement.
Kreidler started an investigation into the companies earlier this year when three consumers sought help from his office. The companies specifically excluded breast augmentation as a treatment for gender dysphoria, the clinical diagnosis for transgender men and women. The companies did not consider individual cases, but instead issued blanket denials based on exclusions in their policies.
As a result of Kreidler’s investigation, the companies will now cover chest reconstruction for transgender women. A physician must write a prescription for the treatment.
In addition, both companies will review all denials of this treatment since January 2016, and will complete the assessments by Oct. 28.
“People who are transgender should not be barred from medical treatments because of their gender identity,” Kreidler said. “I’m glad the companies ultimately did the right thing to ensure they are treating their transgender enrollees fairly.”
Kreidler’s investigation found that the companies treated transgender women differently than they treated transgender men and cisgender women. The companies pay for chest reconstruction for transgender men and for cisgender women who have had a mastectomy. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover services for transgender individuals if they cover the services for cisgender individuals.
In addition, Washington state’s mental health parity laws don’t allow insurers to categorically deny a treatment that is medically necessary to treat a mental health condition.
If you have been denied insurance or treatment based on your gender or gender identity, you should file a complaint with Kreidler’s office.
Consumers in Washington state can get help with their health, property, life and other types of insurance from Kreidler’s office. Help is available online or by phone at 1-800-562-6900.
Source link: Washington Department of Insurance