At their annual Capitol Conference today, officials of the National Association of Health Underwriters disclosed plans for a new Senate bill that would narrow the proposed exemption of agent commissions from PPACA’s medical loss ratio requirements.
At the same time, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), disclosed during a campaign talk at the meeting that the House plans to vote next week on legislation repealing the CLASS Act, or the Living Assistance Services and Supports program.
Legislation repealing the bill was reported out last week by the House Energy and Commerce as H.R. 1173, the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011 bill. The bill was introduced by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.).
Boehner said in his speech that it was important to get it off the books even though Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services said last October that HHS experts had reviewed the CLASS program and could see no way to make the version of the program described in the statutes actuarially sustainable.
The CLASS Act would have created a voluntary long-term care benefits program, and was part of the healthcare reform law passed in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In comments after the E&C panel voted on the bill repealing the provision, Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance noted, “I don’t understand why some members of Congress are wasting taxpayer money holding this markup when the CLASS Act was already removed and be resurrected.”
“Wouldn’t there time be better spent addressing workable solutions to address the nation’s oncoming long-term financial crisis?” Slome said. ”It’s grandstanding.”
The administration has reassigned all employees and made it very clear to pursue further efforts to implement this provision of the healthcare reform law.
While the bill is virtually certain to pass the House, its fate in the Senate, where the provision originated as a sign of respect for the dying Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., its champion, is less clear.
As for the MLR bill, NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein said at the NAHU meeting that the bill that will be introduced in the Senate will have Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., as sponsors.
Another Republican is expected to be added as a sponsor, Trautwein said.