Producer training requirements for long term care insurance have state regulators trying to balance consumer protections with a need for licensing uniformity.

At issue is a possible change to an agreement hammered out by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., that would require 8 hours of training before a producer could sell LTC insurance and 8 additional hours every 24 months. The agreement is incorporated into Section 9 of the NAIC’s LTC model regulation draft as its senior issues task force updates both the regulation and model act.

But the NAIC’s producer licensing working group is expressing concern that the change would impede efforts to advance uniform licensing rules.

The producer licensing working group has “worked long and hard to get uniformity on producer training and we don’t want to go back on that,” said Sandy Praeger, Kansas commissioner, NAIC vice president and chair of the long-term care working group, during a recent discussion on this issue. He said that any decision on the issue would be deferred until the NAIC Fall National Meeting in St. Louis Sept. 9-12.

In a letter to Praeger and Jim Poolman, North Dakota commissioner and chair of the producer licensing working group, Bonnie Burns, an NAIC funded consumer, called any possibility of reducing the training requirement from 8 hours to 3 hours “preposterous.”

She said it was “astonishing” that regulators charged with protecting consumers would consider reducing training requirements for a product that “involves people’s retirement, a large part of their savings and the estate they will leave behind.”

Burns, a training and policy specialist with California Health Advocates, Scotts Valley, Calif., said the NAIC is considering this change over the objections of 14 consumer groups, even as it touts the existence of a funded consumer representative program to Congress as evidence of the NAIC’s efforts to protect consumers.

Burns also noted the federal government requires sellers of LTC policies through state partnership arrangements to “receive training and demonstrate evidence of an understanding of such policies and how they relate to other public and private coverage of long term care.”

Joe Musgrove, a regulator from Arkansas, requested that language be drafted in the model that would reflect the need for producers to show that they understand what they have learned.

“It is not the number of hours but evidence of what they have retained” that’s important, he argued.

Some regulators expressed concern that focusing on LTC insurance training as a bigger piece of the state requirement for 24 continuing education requirements would cut into training for other product lines for producers who sold a number of products.

It was suggested that LTC partnership training requirements did not have to be a CE requirement, although a number of regulators noted that if producers went through the training, they would want CE credit for that training.