Around the PIA Western Alliance States – Week of December 4, 2023

Montana — Montana Free Press look at 2024 Election: For those living in Montana, this is a very good piece of journalism on the election in 2024. The focus is national races and some critical state races.

Here is a link to the story: https://montanafreepress.org/2023/11/28/whos-running-state-federal-office-montana-2024-election/?utm_medium=email

Oregon  — Governor Appoints Council on AI: In response to the growing role that generative artificial intelligence is playing in society, Governor Tina Kotek today announced the formation of the Oregon State Government AI Advisory Council to develop recommendations for its utilization across state government.

“Artificial intelligence is an important new frontier, bringing the potential for substantial benefits to our society, as well as risks we must prepare for,” Governor Kotek said. “This rapidly developing technological landscape leads to questions that we must take head on, including concerns regarding ethics, privacy, equity, security, and social change. It has never been more essential to ensure the safe and beneficial use of artificial intelligence – and I look forward to seeing the work this council produces. We want to continue to foster an environment for innovation while also protecting individual and civil rights.”

The Council will provide a recommended action plan framework to the Governor’s Office no later than six months from the date of its first convening and a final recommended action plan no later than 12 months from its first convening.

The action plan will aim to maximize potential benefits of ethical and effective artificial intelligence implementation and adoption, along with thoughtful governance and standards to mitigate risk and address privacy, ethics, and equity. The goal will be to ensure Oregon has clear usage policies that outline the acceptable use of AI tools, providing transparency, uplifting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and protecting personally identifiable information and other sensitive information.

Full membership and meeting times will be announced at a later date.

The Council will consist of no more than 15 members, all of whom must have a commitment to data ethics and data equity. Council members will include the Oregon State Chief Information Officer (who will chair the council), the Oregon State Chief Data Officer, a representative from the Governor’s Racial Justice Council, the Department of Administrative Services Cultural Change Officer, and an additional agency representative to be appointed by the Governor.

Governor Kotek will also appoint up to eight additional members, which may include community organizations with demonstrated expertise in data justice, artificial intelligence experts from Oregon universities, and representatives from local governments.

Additionally, the President of the Senate shall appoint one member of the Oregon State Senate and the Speaker of the House shall appoint one member of the Oregon House of Representatives.

Last year, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy published the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights: https://bit.ly/3T7crML.

The council was created through the signing of Executive Order 23-26, which can be found here (https://bit.ly/4aiebsK).

Source link: Governor Tina Kotek: https://bit.ly/3Gv4vgM

November 29, 2023

Washington — Workers’ Compensation Rates: It’s official. Washington’s workers’ compensation rates will increase for 2024 and employers are looking at paying an average of $65 a year more than last year.

The increase adopted by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries is 4.9%. It is effective on January 1, 2024.

Source link: Business Insurance — https://bit.ly/47IKsXY

Washington — Consolidated Health Care: We adopted the Consolidated Health Care rules (R2023-07) on Thursday, November 30, 2023. The rules take effect on Monday, January 1, 2024. To be consistent with the legislation passed and codified in the Revised Code of Washington, OIC is adopting health care and insurance related regulations for the Washington Administrative Code. This effort includes updating regulatory definitions for emergency medical condition and prior authorizations, clarifying hearing instrument coverage requirements, updating telemedicine timeframes, providing guidance for health care benefit manger and health carrier contract reporting requirements, and clarifying cost sharing for abortion and diagnostic or supplemental breast exams. The adopted rules impact the following authorities: WAC 284-43-0160, 284-43-7220, 284-44-046, 284-50-270, 284-170-130, 284-180-460, and new sections in Chapters 284-43 and 284-46 WAC.

The adopted rules will facilitate implementation of the legislation by ensuring that all affected health care and insurance entities understand their rights and obligations under the new legal framework.

For more information, including the adopted rule (CR-103) and the concise explanatory statement, please visit the rule’s webpage.

Washington — New legislative report on affordability reveals current state of Washington’s health care system: Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have delivered a preliminary report to legislators describing the current state of Washington’s health care system. The report explores recent market consolidation and a process for evaluating changes that could improve affordability.

The Legislature provided both Kreidler and Ferguson with funding last year to review key factors impacting the affordability of health care coverage for individuals, businesses and state government. The two offices were tasked with compiling policy options for improving the affordability of health care in Washington.

The final report is due to the Legislature in August 2024.

“Washington state has made tremendous progress in helping people access health coverage,” said Kreidler. “Our uninsured rate is one of the lowest in the country, and I’m so proud we were early adopters of Medicaid expansion. But too many people have health insurance they cannot afford to use. We need to get at the underlying costs of health care and I’m grateful the Legislature is helping us do this critical work.” 

A 2022 survey found that 62% of people in Washington had trouble affording health care in the past year and had either rationed their prescriptions, delayed care or depleted their savings to pay for health care. Eighty-one percent said they worried about affording health care in the future.

In their joint message to legislators, Kreidler and Ferguson describe how the cost of health care is driven by two factors: The type and number of health services people use, and the price of those services. Employers, including Washington state, have tried to reduce health care costs by promoting the use of generic drugs and high-deductible plans and encouraging the use of higher quality, lower cost health care providers and facilities. But the structure of our health care system, including consolidation of health insurers, hospitals and health care providers, has limited the impact of these efforts.

The preliminary report includes details on:

    The structure of Washington’s current health care system, including information about vertical and horizontal consolidation of health insurers, hospitals and health care providers.

    Private equity investment trends in Washington.

    An overview of potential policy options to improve health care affordability, some of which have already been adopted in Washington.

    An overview of current enforcement of federal and state antitrust laws aimed at securing strong market competition.

    A review of how other states monitor and challenge health care consolidation.

    A review of non-compete agreements in health care and anti-competitive provisions in insurer/provider contracts.

The final report will include in-depth actuarial and economic analysis of the policy options that generate the most interest from legislators and interest groups.

About PIA Western Alliance

The Professional Insurance Agents Western Alliance is a membership organization promoting and enhancing the success of independent agencies seeking to grow, learn and be heard within the industry.


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