Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today told the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) to keep its eye on her committee as well as on Ways and Means for action this year on health reform policy change initiatives and other work on Republican priorities, including the possible reinvigoration of some old business with agent-promoted legislation.
Blackburn specifically mentioned three pieces of legislation she supports, beginning with the currently dormant H.R. 1206, the so-called MLR (medical loss ratio) bill that would change the provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) rules in order to have insurance agent commissions stay in the numerator, with health care costs.
The bill, which sundowned with the last Congressional session after it passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, would have exempted commissions paid to insurance agents finding health policies in the individual and small group markets from the medical loss ratio calculation mandated under PPACA.
The MLR provision limits administrative costs in health insurance premiums to 15 percent for large groups and 20 percent for small groups. As a result, agents say their commissions have been cut by up to 50 percent on health insurance products.
The old H.R.1206 was sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., and had scores of co-sponsors.
However, NAHU is looking at helping legislators craft a new bill serving agents on the MLR issue, and expanding it to some of their other concerns with PPACA implementation as well.
“We are potentially looking at a broader broker bill dealing with how agents interact with the exchanges,” said Brooke Bell, director of government affairs for NAHU to the National Underwriter here. For example, this bill could include concern with the navigators and agents role in the state exchanges, which will be run in partnership with the federal government or by the states themselves.
However, action on the MLR initiative is now in a holding pattern, awaiting further details on the role of agents in the exchanges and other concerns of the membership.