NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.— The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has delayed until Nov. 22 a vote on a contentious resolution that would have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to unilaterally use its authority to exempt agent health commissions from the medical loss ratio, rather than waiting for Congress to act.
In her last comment before closing the NAIC’s fall meeting here Sunday, president Susan Voss said the issue would be discussed again on a Nov. 22 plenary conference call that involves all commissioners.
“We’ll have plenty of time between now and that member call to have discussions and exchange ideas,” she said.
“In the meantime, the NAIC staff will explore if we should present a process for presenting future resolutions so members have time to talk about them,” Voss said.
According to Consumer Watchdog, Voss acted under pressure from four commissioners, Dave Jones, California; Mike Kreidler, Washington; Thomas Leonardi, Connecticut; and Teresa Miller, Oregon, to delay the vote.
The commissioners objected because they believe the NAIC was asking HHS to do something that exceeded its authority.
At a roundtable involving other commissioners that was held as part of the NAIC meeting, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said, “I was very surprised to learn in a casual conversation by happenstance that our solution was going to be proposed to the full NAIC to urge Congress and HHS to make changes to the medical loss ratio rule.”
He added that, “There had been a task force and then a committee and a NAIC plenary phone call at which I asked specifically the question to [McCarty] whether the NAIC was taking a position on this, and the answer was ‘no.’ So that’s why I was really surprised to see this emerge suddenly without any formal notice or notification.”
The resolution is being pushed by health insurance agents because legislation that would exempt agent commissions from the MLR is tied up in Congress. The resolution provided by NAIC commissioners says:
“The Professional Health Insurance Advisors Task Force has voted to endorse H.R. 1206, the bipartisan Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act of 2011 but recognizes that the current political environment makes the prospects of enactment for this and other potential Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, amendments uncertain at this time.”