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PPACA: Lindeen Fights for Authority to Implement Individual Coverage Mandate

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Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen is trying to persuade lawmakers in her state to let her continue to implement a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provision that could require many individuals to own health coverage starting in 2014.

The Montana House recently held a hearing on Senate Bill 125, a bill introduced PPACA regs toolkitby state Sen. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, Mont., that would prohibit the state government from administering the federal health insurance purchase requirement imposed by PPACA Section 1501.

PPACA is a component of the federal Affordable Care Act legislative package. Republicans are trying to block implementation of Section 1501 and of the entire law.

If Section 1501, the “Minimum Essential Coverage Provision,” takes effect as written, it will require many people with incomes above a certain level to buy a minimum level of health coverage starting in 2014 or else pay a penalty.

S.B. 125 would not seek to block implementation of all PPACA provisions, and provisions in the bill explicitly state that the act created by the bill not interfere with “voluntary actions taken by individuals to purchase health insurance or to participate in health insurance exchanges” or “the state requirement to purchase motor vehicle liability insurance.”

Lindeen testified during a hearing organized by the Montana House Human Services Committee that she believes the bill conflicts with her constitutional

duties as Montana’s insurance commissioner.

The U.S. Treasury Department will be responsible for enforcing PPACA Section 1501, and the Montana insurance commissioner will have no direct role in enforcing that provision, Lindeen testified, according to a summary of her remarks provided by Lindeen’s office.

But, in addition to keeping Lindeen from enforcing PPACA Section 1501, the bill would restrict Lindeen’s involvement in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Kansas City, Mo., “by prohibiting her from participating in any NAIC discussions of the individual mandate for health insurance,” according to officials in Lindeen’s office. “Being restricted from participating in NAIC discussions would seriously hinder Commissioner Lindeen’s and her staff’s ability to serve Montanans because that is where her office gains their knowledge about what is happening on the federal level and in other states with insurance.”

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