Filed Under:Agent Broker, Coverage Issues

Comity in Congress?

Although an NFIP extension passed, don’t hold your breath for other bipartisan bills

Imagine this scenario for a moment. The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives considers a bill to reauthorize for 5 years a large government program that has an $18 billion debt. The bill does not address this debt. An amendment to abolish this program is defeated by an overwhelming margin. Then, the bill to extend this program for 5 years is passed on a bipartisan vote of 406-22.

This is not a fantasy. It actually happened. Republicans and Democrats from across the political spectrum came together and agreed that the federal government needs to remain in the business of making flood insurance available to Americans.

A little over half of the states are moving toward setting up health insurance exchanges, which the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires be done by 2014. A large minority of the states are either dragging their feet or refusing to set up exchanges, running the risk that the federal government will step in and do so, as provided in the law. At the same time, more than a dozen states are participating in various court challenges to portions or all of the healthcare law itself.

One focus of professional independent insurance agents regarding healthcare reform has been trying to ensure that whatever happens, agents do not get shut out. Language in PPACA makes clear that agents are included in the healthcare delivery system that the legislation sets up.

By not following the recommendation of the task force it appointed to deal with this matter, the NAIC’s Executive Committee seems to have undercut its own position. Endorsing H.R. 1206 would only strengthen the NAIC’s position on this issue with HHS. And passing H.R. 1206 would settle the issue by taking it out of the hands of HHS. We expect NAIC leadership to make their position clear to HHS that agents are indeed indispensible and deserve to be fairly compensated for their services.

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